As early as 1360, a town hall on the Leipzig market was first mentioned in a document. The Old Town Hall is made up of several buildings that have grown together over the years and have subsequently been given a uniform facade. The Renaissance town hall that we see today was built in 1556 by Hieronymus Lotter, who was then mayor of the city of Leipzig. The facade was designed by architect Paul Speck. The 41 m high town hall tower with the baroque copper dome was added later. It stands above the passage to the Naschmarkt. This makes the facade of the old town hall asymmetrical. There are 2 gables on one side and 4 gables on the other. This creates proportions that come very close to the "golden ratio".
The ballroom and the council chamber are located in the old town hall. In the past, the treasury, the court and prison cells were also in here. Shops and restaurants can be found behind the arcades on the ground floor. The 93 m long facade of the Leipzig Town Hall occupies almost the entire east side of the square. The Old Town Hall is one of the most famous sights in Leipzig.
The Old Town Hall is accessible via the Leipzig Markt underground train station built in 2013.
The Naschmarkt is a small square behind the old town hall where fruit was previously sold. The old stock exchange stands at the north end of the narrow square. The early baroque merchant exchange is used today as a representative event hall. The Leipzig merchants joined forces in 1678 to set up the representative building. The beautiful building was completed in 1687. Johann Georg Starcke or Christian Richter are suspected as architecs. The figures on the roof and the colored facade with the Leipzig coat of arms are striking. The old stock exchange burned out during the Second World War and was restored until 1962. A monument to Johann Wolfgang Goethe stands in front of the stock exchange. The Frankfurt born poet immortalized the city of Leipzig in his tragedy "Faust".
The St. Thomas Church is not a pearl of architecture, but the church has other qualities. Johann Sebastian Bach worked here and the church is home to the famous St. Thomas choir, which has existed since 1212. The tomb of Bach (1685-1750), who became known worldwide as a composer, is inside the church. The reformer Martin Luther gave a sermon here in 1539.
The Market Church, which became the collegiate church of the Thomas monastery in 1222, was previously located on the site where the St. Thomas Church stands today. This church was replaced in 1496 by the current building. From the outside, the St. Thomas Church looks strangely composed. The main aisle is blocked in the west and east by small stems, which were built neither in the same material nor in the same style. Interesting is only the ribbed vault in the interior and the very steep roof of the Thomaskirche, which is one of the steepest in Germany at 63 °.
The 68 m high church tower combines several epochs, from the base built in 1355 to the top of the tower, which was completed around 1850. The Thomaskirche is a Gothic building with neo-Gothic elements.
In front of the church stands the Johann Sebastian Bach Monument, which attracts numerous visitors from all over the world.
Theodor Kösser build the luxurios shopping arcade for Anton Mädler in 1914. The existing world-famous wine restaurant Auerbachs Keller was skilfully integrated into the new complex. During GDR times the Mädler Passage was used as exhibition hall. Today the Mädler Passage is an exclusive shopping center and one of the most famous sights of Leipzig.
The extravagant Art Nouveau house with Asian elements by architect Paul Lange was built in 1909 for the Riquet company. The elephant heads were the trademark of Riquet, which mainly traded in cocoa, coffee and tea from Asia. There is a tower in the style of a Chinese pagoda on the roof. The Riquet family came from France after Protestants had to leave the country in 1685. The enterprising Huguenots built a grocery store and became respected citizens. Riquet's chocolate was Goethe's favorite brand. The Riquet company had over 700 employees in 1921. In the GDR, the company was expropriated and the production of chocolate ended.
Since 1996, the historic building has become home to a coffee house that recalls the good old days.
The city of Leipzig grew from 100,000 inhabitants in 1870 to over 500,000 in 1905. Due to the rapid growth of the city, Leipzig needed a larger administration. The Pleißenburg castle on the southern city wall was bought and the New Leipzig City Hall was built on the property. The Pleissenburg tower was a landmark of Leipzig and should return in a similar form in the new building. Leipzig city director Hugo Licht won the architecture competition by using the tower as base for the new town hall tower and also using the medieval defense tower as an architectural model.
The New Leipzig City Hall was completed in 1905 with a 114.5 m high city hall tower. It surpasses the Hamburg city hall built in 1897 by 2 m and is the tallest of its kind in Germany.
The evangelical St Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche) is the oldest church in Leipzig. The church was built in 1165 in the Romanesque style. In the 15th century the church was rebuilt in the late Gothic style. Martin Luther preached in the St Nicholas Church in 1539. In 1797 the Gothic interior was redesigned in a classicist style, with the columns became palm trees. With delicate pink on the pillars and stucco decorations with light green floral decor, the interior looks a bit cheesy.
Monday prayers have been held in the Nikolaikirche since 1980 which led to the Monday demonstrations in 1989. The demonstrations in Leipzig grew and eventually led to the overthrow of the GDR.
Leipzig Central Station was opened in 1915 as the largest train station in Europe. With a covered area of over 80,000 m², it is still the largest terminal station in Europe. However, the Leipzig train station has significantly fewer passengers than the train stations in Hamburg, Frankfurt or Munich. In this category, Leipzig Hbf does not even end up in the top 10 of Germany. But with its 299 m long main facade, it surpasses all other stations in the country. The main train station in Leipzig was designed by the architects Lossow and Kühne. In addition to its good functionality, their design was also selected for its monumental, light-flooded halls.
After the reunification, the Leipzig train station was rebuilt. A shopping center with some 70 shops on two levels was built under the cross platform hall. In 2013 the City Tunnel was opened, an S-Bahn tunnel that leads from the central station under the city center to the Bavarian Station. As a result, Leipzig Central Station became a through station for regional transport.
The opera has a long tradition in Leipzig, in 1693 the first Opera House was built nearby. Leipzig was the second city with an opera in Germany. The opera house built in 1868 by architect Carl Ferdinand Langhans was destroyed in World War II. The current building was designed by architect Kunz Nierade and opened in 1960. The new opera takes up the classicist architecture of the Langhans opera, but in a very simplified form. The Stalinist classicism of the Soviet Union was abandoned after Stalin's death in 1953 and the socialist architecture became somewhat more modern again.
The Leipzig Opera is known for first-class performances. For current events check the link below.
The historicist building by the architects Hoffmann and Dybwad was completed in 1895 as an imperial court building. The monumental, classicist architecture was typical of the German Empire. It is very similar to the Reichstag in Berlin by Paul Wallot from 1894. It was partially destroyed in World War II and used as a museum after the reconstruction in the GDR. Since 2002, it serves again the judiciary as a federal administrative court. The structure consists of a right-angled block with a tower in the middle. The gigantic entrance hall and the large boardroom are worth a visit. These areas are open to the public and tours of the building are also available. See link for opening times and prices.
The "KarLi" is the urban heart of the city. There are countless cafes and restaurants in beautiful Wilhelminian style houses. Although a lot has been renovated, the district has retained its charm. Karl-Liebknecht Straße is an arterial road leading south from the historic center. It begins behind Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz, where it is called Peterssteinweg. The most interesting part is between Braustraße and Schenkendorfstraße.
From 1933 the broad avenue was called "Adolf Hitler Strasse" and was renamed in the GDR after the famous Leipzig communist Karl Liebknecht. Liebknecht proclaimed the "Free Socialist Republic of Germany" from the Berlin City Palace in 1918. After the October Revolution of 1917, people feared a communist dictatorship like that in Russia. For this reason, Karl Liebknecht was shot in 1919 in the Berlin Tiergarten.
The Wollgarnfabrik AG was founded in 1887. Pfeifer & Handel's prestigious West Building was opened in 1897. In 1990 the VEB Buntgarnwerke factory was shut down. Today there are high-quality loft apartments in the beautiful brick buildings. The Buntgarnwerke (colored yarn plants) are among the most beautiful buildings from the industrialization era in Germany. The colored bricks and the location right on the water make the former factory a remarkable ensemble.
Because the exhibition halls in the city center became too small, a new fair ground was built in 1913. In 1965 the famous double-M was installed as a symbol of the Leipzig trade fair. In 1996 the fair moved to the new area in the north of Leipzig and the former exhibition center in the south of the city was transformed into an industrial area. The Leipziger Messe M (Messe = Fair) is a symbol of the city, but lives a rather sad life on Prager Straße.
The Russian Memorial Church was built in 1913 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations by the Orthodox community of Leipzig. During the Battle of Nations, 130,000 Russians fought against Napoleon's army. 22,000 Russian soldiers were killed in the battle. The 18 m high icon wall in the interior is worth a visit.
The Rococo palace in Leipzig's Gohlis-Süd district was built in 1756 by merchant and council architect Johann Caspar Richter as a summer palace. Due to the Seven Years' War, interior work was delayed until 1780. Since the client died in 1770, he was unable to use the building himself. In 1793 the Gohlis Palace was transferred to the city of Leipzig.
Over 600,000 soldiers from all over Europe faced each other here in 1813 in a great battle. Over 100,000 soldiers died or were wounded. The Battle of the Nations was the largest battle in Europe before the first world war. At the start of the battle, both sides had around 200,000 soldiers. On the third day, the Allies had more then 300,000 men on their side through supplies. Napoleon had the german Confederation of the Rhine on his side while Prussia and Austria were fighting together with Russia. So Germans fought against Germans.
What was it about?
Napoleon had subjugated almost all of continental Europe, but had experienced the catastrophic Russian campaign the year before. Many former allies banded together in 1813 to defeat Napoleon. Prussia, Russia, Sweden and Austria gathered their troops around Leipzig. Napoleon's soldiers were in Leipzig when the ring around the city slowly closed. The battle lasted 3 days, during which the French concentrated on defending and with their superior artillery kept the enemy at a distance. The attackers' losses were significantly higher. When the allies' reinforcements arrived on the third day, the French began to withdraw. The way west was deliberately left open for Napoleon to leave. A defeat was inflicted on him and his troops weakened considerably, that was enough for the attackers and they occupied Leipzig.
As a result of the Battle of Nations, the states of the Rhine Confederation changed to the Allies and Napoleon had to give up Germany. Napoleon was finally defeated in Waterloo in 1805.
The Monument to the Battle of the Nations was erected 100 years after the victory over Napoleon. It was designed by architect Bruno Schmitz, who also planned the Kyffhäuser Monument, the Deutsche Eck in Koblenz and the Kaiser Wilhelm Monument in Porta Westfalica. It is a gigantic monument that is reflected in the lake of tears.
Leipzig was evolved at the intersection of two long-distance trade routes. The Via Regia connected Paris with Novgorod and the Via imperii led from Bergen to Rome. At this intersection around 1165 a market place emerged from which the city of Leipzig developed. From 1268 onward, merchants traveling to the Leipzig fair were put under protection. In Germany, only Frankfurt am Main has an older trade fair privilege.
This travel guide will show you the most important sights and tourist attractions of Leipzig. There is a tourist map of Leipzig with all sights at the end of this page.