Of a number of recommendable museums in Leipzig, the Grassimuseum complex holds a unique position as it actually combines three very different museums under one roof. After extensive renovations finished in 2005, these museums are housed in an impressive building at the Johannisplatz in Downtown. Originally built in 1929, the museum had been heavily bombed in WWII, resulting in the loss of several thousand valuable exhibits.
The Museum für Angewandte Kunst (Applied Arts Museum) aims to showcase how art and design can be found in everyday items, going back in history all the way to antiquity. Sculptures, furniture, tiles and textiles are among the more than 90,000 exhibits the museum owns. The collection is supplemented by an extensive photography archive and library.
The Museum für Musikinstrumente (Museum of Musical Instruments) in contrast collects instruments and related objects from the world of music. The approximately 10,000 items in the possession of the museum focus on the Bach period but also contain even older instruments. In addition, visitors have the opportunity to try instruments in a sound laboratory.
The Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnography) holds one of the largest and most significant collections of ethnographic objects from around the world. The main focus of the museum is on Asia and Australia, showcasing several thousand artifacts that shed a light on everyday life and arts in these parts of the world.
Grassimuseum, Johannisplatz 5-11, open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-6 pm
Famous for its many different species and successful breeding program, the Leipzig Zoo has been continuously upgraded and extended since its opening in 1878. Today covering more than 200,000 square meters, the zoo is home to about 9000 animals from more than 800 species. The animal park is subdivided into six different areas, each replicating the natural environments of the animals living there. Among others, there is a large, covered tropical rainforest area, where visitors can follow a treetop trail – or just stay on the ground. In the Africa area, you will find the big cats, for which the zoo is internationally recognized as it has bred more than 2000 lions and hundreds of tigers. The zoo also offers an aquarium and a large free flight area.
Pfaffendorfer Strasse 29, large parking garage available.
The Gewandhaus concert hall in Leipzig, noted for its fine acoustics, is actually the third building in the city to bear this name, which could roughly be translated as “cloth hall” because parts of the first building were used by clothiers to display their goods. The original Gewandhaus was built in 1498 and expanded by a concert hall in 1781. Here, a number of important classical music works had their debut performances and noted composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy served as one of the bandmasters. This building was torn down at the end of the 19th century and its replacement, the concert hall built in 1884, was destroyed by bombs in World War II. It wasn’t until 1977 that Leipzig got a concert hall again. This third version of the Gewandhaus has an organ with more than 6600 pipes and a capacity of about 1900 spectators. In the months leading up to the peaceful revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall, renowned bandmaster Kurt Masur opened the Gewandhaus to the general public and held panel talks here in which the future of the GDR were discussed. The building thus served as a forum for those aspiring to overturn the East Berlin regime. Today, there are about 250 classical concerts performed here annually. Outside of these performances and other events, there are guided tours available for visitors.
Augustusplatz 8, parking garage available
Friends of classical music will also be familiar with the name of the Thomaskirche (St. Thomas Church), a Lutheran church built in 1496. The church, notable for its steep ceiling, is famous for being the former home of the Thomanerchor, a boys’ choir with a tradition going back to the year 1212, of which composer Johann Sebastian Bach was the director from 1723 to 1750. Bach’s remains are interred in a grave at the church since 1950. They had been moved here from their original location at Johanniskirche (St. John’s Church) when this church was destroyed in a WWII bombing raid. The square in front of the church is adorned by a statue honoring Bach made in 1908. Most visitors to the church, which is still used for regular services, are interested in seeing Bach’s grave and may do so free of charge. However, there are also guided tours into the church’s tower at the weekends.
Thomaskirchhof 18, church open daily 9 am - 6 pm, closed during services