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Leipzig City Tour
Update (June 2006): Leipzig was one of the host cities of the FIFA World Cup 2006 - you can find pictures of the fans and events in my flickr photostream.
Leipzig has been a city of trade fairs since its very beginning: In the 7th-9th century, Slavonian settlers founded the town Lipzk at the intersection of the trade routes Via Imperii and Via Regia. 1165, Leipzig received municipal and market rights and was granted trade fair rights in the following centuries, up to the trade fair privilege of 1507. As Leipzig turned into one of the most important venues for worldwide and especially east-west trade over the centuries, many of the old fair houses and merchant courts that still characterize the city center's look today were built.
The following photos take you on a quick virtual tour through the historic city center, which has been beautifully restored and is amazingly compact at just 1 km in diameter.Alte Handelsbörse, Naschmarkt (Old Bourse, "Naschmarkt" square)
Right in the city center are the Old Bourse and City Hall. In the Old Bourse (built in 1687), merchants closed their contracts in earlier trade fairs. It is situated at the side of the Naschmarkt square, which also features a statue of Johann Wolfang von Goethe that reminds of his time as a student (and his girlfriends) in Leipzig.
Dominating the market square, the Old City Hall was built in the record time of nine months in 1556/1557. It is considered one of Germany's most beautiful Renaissance buildings. Branching off from the market is Barthel's Court, Leipzig's last originally preserved trade court. Walking through this passage, it's not far to the Coffe Baum (Coffee Tree), Europe's oldest preserved restaurant-café - continually opened since the middle of the 15th century.
One block west of the market is the Cloister Alley, running along an impressive building that was once an Augustinian monastery and today hosts the Commerzbank and various restaurants.
The St. Thomas Church was consecrated in 1212 and remodeled 1884-89 in neo-Gothic style. Since over 780 years, it is home to the famous Thomanerchor (St. Thomas Boys Choir), led by cantor Johann Sebastian Bach from 1723 to 1750 who is buried in this church today.
The New City Hall was built on the foundations of the ancient Pleiße castle. Today, it hosts the city administration. Walking to the eastern part of the city center, we often note painted lion statues (Leipzig's heraldic figure) and combinations of modern architecture with skillfully restored old elements.
Celebrating its 600th anniversary in 2009, the University of Leipzig is Germany's second-oldest university. Among its students were Tycho Brahe, Thomas Müntzer, Georg Philipp Telemann, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz; among its professors the Nobel laureates Wilhelm Ostwald and Werner Heisenberg.
The internationally renowned Gewandhaus orchestra dates back to 1743 and has its home in the New Gewandhaus Orchestra Hall, which is considered to have one of the best acoustics in Europe. Across the spacious Augustus Square is the Opera of Leipzig, Germany's second-oldest opera dating back to 1693.
Consecrated in 1175, St. Nicholas Church is Leipzig's oldest and biggest city church. Since 1982 (and still continuing today), it hosts regular peace prayers every monday evening. In fall 1989, these peace prayers grew into mass demonstrations with hundreds of thousands of people that initiated the peaceful revolution in the German Democratic Republic and gave significant impulses towards the German reunification. A replica of the columns in the church was recently erected in the church court in remembrance of the demonstrations that started here.
The numerous old trade courts and passages are a unique trademark of Leipzig's city center. Beautifully restored, they host stores, restaurants and art galleries of all kinds today. The Speck's Court Passage, for example, leads from St. Nicholas Church inward to the city center.
Leipzig's grandest and most luxurious passage is the Maedler Passage which is especially famous for hosting the wine cellar and restaurant Auerbachs Keller (Auerbach's Cellar) that dates back to 1525 and was immortalized by Goethe in a scene of his work "Faust".
That's the end of our short virtual city tour which only gave a glimpse of Leipzig's sights and didn't even mention the various museums, pubs, parks, zoo and train station (one of Europe's biggest terminal stations, occupying an area almost as big as the city center and housing a complete shopping mall with 140 stores on three levels). I highly recommend you visit Leipzig to see all the sights for yourself! :-)
|© 2003-2006 Matthias Book|