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LEJ Neues Rathaus

Further Reading

 

Things to see in Leipzig

 

 

 

 

Leipzig

Leipzig, located in western Saxony, some 200 kilometers south of Berlin, is one of the cities that have obviously been upgraded a lot since the reunification of Germany in 1990. Formerly an example of the deteriorated state of many East German cities, Leipzig today is an active, livable town with many beautiful sights and a population of 531,800.

The city played an important role in the uprising of the East German people that triggered the collapse of the GDR, as it was here at St. Nicholas Church, where protesters met every week for the now-famous Monday demonstrations, demanding freedom to travel and democratic elections. The demonstrator’s chant “Wir sind das Volk” (We are the people) has become one of the hallmarks of the peaceful revolution that was going to change German history. What had begun as a small protest among a handful of church-goers in September 1989 quickly evolved into mass demonstrations with more than 300,000 participants in October and similar protests happening in other East German cities.

As in most parts of Eastern Germany, demographics in Leipzig show a significantly different picture to what is common in the Western part of the country. Many people, especially the younger, had left the Eastern German states in the 1990s looking for better employment opportunities in the West. This migration movement not only caused Leipzig’s population number to plummet from 545,000 in 1988 to as little as 437,000 in 1998, but it also effected birth rates dramatically. Today, Leipzig has bounced back to a population of 531,000 with that number expected to keep rising. Compared to cities in Western Germany, the percentage of inhabitants with ancestry roots outside of Germany is rather low. The percentage of foreigners in Leipzig in 2009 was at only 6,2%, mostly consisting of people from a country formerly associated to the Soviet Union.

Leipzig is an important city for the history of Music. It is the birthplace of composer Richard Wagner and the city where Johann Sebastian Bach worked for more than 25 years. The Bach-Archiv at Leipzig University today researches work and life of the great composer, operates a Bach museum and organizes the annual Bach Festival.  The St. Thomas Choir (Thomanerchor), whose history goes back to its founding in 1212, traditionally interprets the works of Bach. Among other famous names, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s is also connected to the city, as he established a music school here – today the University of Music and Theatre -  before he became music director of the famous Gewandhausorchester, one of the oldest symphony orchestras of the world which has its home base at the Gewandhaus at Augustusplatz. Many of the city’s main attractions are within easy walking distance to one another in the city center.

The city of Leipzig has in recent years established itself as a major hub for logistics, alongside other businesses. The Leipzig-Halle Airport sees a steadily growing number of freight being handled here. The airport is connected to the international gateways of Munich, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf by feeder flights. Together with a newly built network of autobahns and a good railway connection via Europe’s largest railway station by floor area, Leipzig today has an excellent infrastructure.

Before you go, be aware that you’ll sometimes have to train your ear to understand people in Leipzig (and in all of Saxony, for that matter), even if you’ve got a good grasp of the German language. The region is famous – and sometimes mocked – for the very distinct dialect spoken here. This dialect, however, has a friendly, laid-back sound to it, so people will probably make you feel welcome, even if you don’t understand them right away.

Back to: Saxony