Leipzig can look back on an exceptional musical tradition. Johann Sebastian Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann all worked here. Richard Wagner, who was born in Leipzig, underwent his musical training in the city.
Leipzig is still writing musical history today: internationally acclaimed ensembles delight audiences at the Gewandhaus concert hall, St. Thomas Church and the opera house. Many different museums document and uphold the city's musical heritage, and there are annual festivals dedicated to nearly all of the city's major composers. Visit the sites where eminent composers lived and worked, and follow the Leipzig Music Trail to explore places with both a magnificent musical past and a vibrant present.
But Leipzig is much more than a destination for lovers of classical music. During the Wave Gothic Festival and Jazz Festival, the city attracts fans of alternative music styles in their tens of thousands every year.
The Grieg cultural forum in Leipzig is situated at Talstrasse 10 in the former premises of music publishers C. F. Peters. The Norwegian composer and pianist Edvard Grieg stayed in the building, mainly in the winter months, as the guest of his publishers Max Abraham and Henri Hinrichsen. He composed his famous Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 here in 1888.read more »
The Coffe Baum is one of Europe's oldest original 'coffee temples'. Johann Lehmann acquired the building in Fleischergasse in 1711 and converted it into a coffee house. In 1720, the year after his death, his widow opened it under the name Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum.read more »
The Museum of Musical Instruments in the refurbished Grassi complex is home to one of the world's largest collections of musical instruments. The chronologically arranged permanent exhibition entitled 'In Search of the Perfect Sound' offers visitors of all ages an insight into Leipzig's musical heritage and into the fascinating world of musical instruments. It is divided into 13 sections and presents the most important periods in instrument-making and the history of music.read more »
Leipzig Opera House is the third oldest municipal musical theatre in Europe (after Venice and Hamburg) and has a heritage of operatic performances dating back more than 300 years. Besides its opera ensemble, it also encompasses the Leipzig Ballet and the Musikalische Komödie company, which performs operettas and musicals in its own venue in Leipzig's Lindenau district. With the Gewandhaus Orchestra accompanying all productions, opera-goers have a musical treat in store.read more »
RES SEVERA VERUM GAUDIUM (true pleasure is a serious business) is emblazoned in large letters across the organ front in the great hall of the new Gewandhaus concert hall. The saying was adopted by the Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1781.read more »
St. Thomas choir is the musical city of Leipzig's oldest cultural asset and can trace its roots back to 1212. In that year, Margrave Dietrich acquired a church and 'donated' it to power-hungry Augustinian Canons Regular. The affiliated seminary initially had the task of training boy choristers to sing the liturgy, leading to the establishment of St. Thomas choir.read more »
Even while he was still alive, Mendelssohn became one of the most performed composers of the era. The son of a Jewish family, he maintained a deep affection for Leipzig, where he lived from 1835 until his death. He was also kapellmeister of the Gewandhaus Orchestra.read more »
Richard Wagner was born in Leipzig on 22 May 1813. He spent his childhood in Dresden before returning to Leipzig in 1827 to take lessons at the Alte Nikolaischule (Old St. Nicholas school) and St. Thomas school. Attending Leipzig's Gewandhaus concert hall, Wagner got to know Beethoven's masterpieces and decided to dedicate his life to music.read more »
Johann Sebastian Bach worked as director musices lipsiensis and cantor of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig from 1723 to 1750. He was also buried in St. Thomas Church, his place of work for so many years. Opposite the church are the Bach Archive and Bach Museum. Leipzig is the venue of the annual Bach Festival, which is held in honour of the great composer every year.read more »
Leipzig is described as the capital of the Gründerzeit era due to the city's unparalleled number of buildings from the period from 1830 onwards.
The former affluent residential districts, for example the studenty Südvorstadt, the fashionable Musikviertel (Music Quarter) and the family Waldstraßenviertel (Waldstraßen Quarter), have now been extensively renovated, giving the city a unique shine. Striking trading and exhibition houses, courtyards and arcades are the defining features of the city centre. The traditionally developed self-contained system of 30 arcades, 20 of which are original, is unique in Germany. The best-known and most expensive arcade is the Mädler Passage, inspired by Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, with its elegant glass roof and the tradition-steeped Auerbachs Keller, once frequented by Goethe.
But Leipzig also has a lot to offer when it comes to modern architecture, as impressively demonstrated by the Augustusplatz square in the city centre. Built by the Dutch architect Erick van Egeraat in 2015, the new Paulinum building is an eye-catching sight. Both the building's name and its frontage bring to mind the Paulinerkirche church, which was blown up during the German Democratic Republic era. Today, it houses the Leipzig University auditorium.
Just a few steps away is the new Catholic "Propsteikirche St. Trinitatis" (St. Trinitatis parish church). Designed by the architectural practice Schulz und Schulz, it is the only new Catholic church to be built in East Germany and has won several awards, including internationally. The centre is also home to the first new museum building to be constructed in East Germany after 1945, the "Museum der bildenden Künste" (Museum of Fine Arts), opened in 2004 and presenting a unique mixture of art and architecture.
As well as its tradition-rich culture and history, Leipzig also has a vibrant alternative scene that can be discovered, in particular, outside the city centre.
From vegan restaurants to industrial art galleries and alternative street festivals: according to the Skyscanner and Mashable online platforms, Leipzig is the world's number 1 destination for "yuccies" – or young urban creatives. The former industrial district of Plagwitz has become a hub for innovative start-ups and designers. A visit to the "Spinnerei" is a must for art lovers. Previously the site of the largest cotton mill in continental Europe, the building is now home to world-famous galleries and studios, which organise a great Gallery Tour three times a year.
Other places that are well worth a visit in the "Kunstareal" art area are the Tapetenwerk and the Kunstkraftwerk, which captures visitors' imaginations with continuously changing innovative exhibitions. Nearby Karl-Heine-Straße is the place to go if you are looking for quirky shops and lively bars. To end the evening in relaxed style, visitors should stop by "Noch Besser Leben" – somewhere to see and be seen.
A perfect example of alternative sub-culture combined with classy, trendy chic is Karl-Liebknecht-Straße in the south of Leipzig, a street affectionately known as KarLi and lined with bars, clubs and shops. The animated atmosphere both day and night is particularly appealing to students. Young families also appreciate its many attractions - from a cinema from the days of silent films to open-air concerts in the nearby Clara Zetkin park and flea markets on the site of the former Feinkost factory.
A visit to Leipzig promises a sensory feast for culture enthusiasts and modern art lovers alike.
From a ballet at the Leipzig Opera to a great concert in the world-famous Gewandhaus or a motet by the St Thomas choir in St Thomas Church, there are so many ways to enjoy classical music – in many cases for free. But that's not all. Few German cities can boast such a vibrant arts scene, attracting worldwide attention. The most noteworthy examples being the Spinnerei art centre with over 100 studios and 11 galleries, as well as the leading representative of the "New Leipzig School", artist Neo Rauch.
Leipzig also has a lot to offer shopping fans. As well as major fashion brands, the compact city centre is also home to some exquisite designer labels, such as Liebeskind. The atmosphere in the historic arcades, in particular the elegant Mädler Passage, adds very special charm to shopping trips in Leipzig. And after your retail experience, you can choose from a wide selection of outstanding restaurants offering great cuisine at attractive prices. The FALCO** enjoys an excellent reputation with its Head Chef Peter Maria Schnurr - Chef of the Year 2016. As does the Villers gourmet restaurant in the five-star superior Hotel Fürstenhof. Not forgetting the Stadtpfeiffer*, situated right next to the Gewandhaus, which has been a favourite foodie destination for years.
Leipzig's hotel scene is equally multi-facetted. From the classic atmosphere of premium establishments such as the Steigenberger Grandhotel Handelshof, the Hotel Fürstenhof Leipzig and the Westin Leipzig to "newcomers" such as Innside by Melía Leipzig or the ANA Symphonie, offering a modern urban feel and stylish interior design.
Throughout the ages, merchants from all over Europe have rhapsodised about Leipzig's inns. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, once a student in Leipzig, immortalised the Auerbachs Keller restaurant in his play "Faust", elevating it to worldwide fame.
Over the last few years, different Leipzig restaurants have cooked their way to gastronomic "star" status, notably FALCO** on the top floor of the Westin Leipzig and Stadtpfeiffer* in the Gewandhaus. As well as its modern, innovative cuisine, the Panorama Tower restaurant on the 29th floor of the City-Hochhaus boasts a panoramic view over the city.
For coffee culture enthusiasts, no visit would be complete without a break in one of the city's traditional coffee houses. "Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum" is Germany's oldest coffee house and also features a coffee museum with over 500 exhibits. Even from the outside, the Kaffeehaus Riquet is a striking sight, with two large elephant heads above the entrance. Once inside, the excellent coffee and cakes make an equally strong impression. Some other essential points to tick off the culinary "to-do" list include a cup of "Bachkaffee" coffee and a "Leipziger Lerche", a shortcrust pastry cake filled with almonds, marzipan and jam, at Café Kandler. If you are in the mood for something more savoury, try the "Leipziger Allerlei" made from fresh vegetables, morels and crayfish tails, which is ideally accompanied by a glass of "Leipziger Gose" beer. The best place to enjoy this top-fermented beer is in the Gasthaus- & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof.
The pulsating heart of the city centre lies in the area around Barfußgässchen, with its many pavement cafes and terraces. Just a few steps westwards takes you to Gottschedstraße, where you can find lots of trendy meeting places with international cuisine, luscious after-work cocktails and regular live music.
Since the early part of the 2000s, Leipzig has ranked among the top cities in the German automotive industry thanks to the presence of Porsche and BMW.
The Leipzig Porsche plant opened in 2002 and is much more than simply a production site. Visitors can see the production of the Panamera, Macan and Cayenne first hand and take part in a wide range of guided tours and experiences. The spectacular architecture of the exclusive Customer Centre, the plant's own certified circuit and an off-road track also make Porsche Leipzig a popular event venue.
With its award-winning architecture by Zaha Hadid, the BMW Plant Leipzig is one of the most modern and sustainable vehicle production sites in the world. Since March 2005, up to 740 vehicles have been produced here every day. As well as conventional vehicle production in Leipzig, the company's future focuses include electric cars and cars with lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic bodies. Plant tours provide insights into the vehicle production process - from welding of the bodywork to painting and customised features.
Leipzig is also the perfect place to experience the nostalgia of East Germany's automotive history - on a cool Trabi tour. An object of desire, the Trabant car was, and still is, a highly coveted item. In the former German Democratic Republic, people had to wait up to 15 years for their own little "cardboard box" and they are now almost as rare again today. At the former production site in Zwickau, 80 kilometres from Leipzig, visitors to the August Horch Museum can now gain a deeper insight into German automotive history, from Horch to Audi and Trabant right through to Volkswagen.