Last weekend I spent my birthday roaming the streets of Leipzig, getting to know the city, learning a lot about history and just getting super tired from all the walking. I saw so much in such a short time, that firstly I fell into bed that night after celebrating with a pizza, and secondly wanted to share how you too can see Leipzig in 48 hours!
Now this is NOT just some travel guide. This is the ultimate, take with you and be set to go travel guide. I have the top things to
do, see, visit
and places to
run, eat and stay.
With every place to see and visit goes a compact history lesson.
And with every place to eat and visit goes an exact address and the price of tickets.
You’re pretty much all set to go with this post!
So, let me present:
48 Hours In Leipzig: The Ultimate Travel Guide With Everything You Need To Know!! (History, Architecture, Art, Food And Fitness Included)
Walk through the city
The city of Leipzig is absolutely wonderful. I recommend just taking the time after arriving or before departure, or pretty much any time in between, to just stop thinking about things to see and do and just start walking.
Take the city in.
Breathe its air.
Observe its people.
Feel its atmosphere.
If you’ve just arrived this is a way of getting a first feel for the city.
If you’ve been here a little, then keep your eye out for things you might want to look at closer.
If you’re leaving again, reflect on what you’ve seen and done. Walk and recall the moments and treasure them in your heart.
Any way: just walk.
Enjoy the architecture
Leipzig has absolutely stunning architecture. Not only in the way you might think of as the architecture of a castle. Here it tells stories, not of princesses, but of prosperity, despair, hard times, flourishing times, hope, renovation and abandonment.
Each house has its own story.
There are so many different kinds of houses. Here you have the chance to feel, breathe and experience history: from seeing typical buildings in the style of the GDR, real left over buildings built and used in that time.
Abandoned houses that have still not been restored.
But also old mansions built for rich people.
Big publisher houses of companies which settled here.
Passages, so artsy you have to just look and stare.
Just take in all the impressions and feel the different times.
Have a picknic at the riverside
Want to really feel what it’s like to be a local here?
Then get a blanket and pack some food and off you go the riverside. The Elstar has a lot of large green places where you can have your picnic. I personally found the place in front of the Department Sport of the University of Leipzig the one with the friendliest atmosphere.
Or maybe that was just me and the feeling of sport near and around me… I don’t know. It just looked like a wonderful place to rest and look into the sunset:-)
Get on a train and get off just anywhere
Remember my wild list?
If you’ve been following me for quite some time, you might remember my wild list, which was inspired by a giant inspiration and fellow blogger Juni Desirée. It’s practically a list of activities that are unconventional, out of my comfort zone and not normal (all things 100% legal of course!), such as going to the movies alone or confessing something, singing out loud in a mall.. and so many more crazy things. If you’re interested to see the full list and join the challenge to create your own, click here!
Anyways, one point on that list was “getting on a bus/train and just getting out anywhere, completely random.” Well I did that in Leipzig and I ended up in the middle of nowhere outside town. I told myself I’d get out in 3 stops, so I did and it was definitely eye opening.
You see things, you wouldn’t have seen, if you just had your full plan and crossed things off your list – nothing against plans and lists – you know I’m obsessed, but nothing beats a little spontaneous action of thrill of the unknown! Just give it a try!
Now this was a pleasant surprise for me to just walk the streets of Leipzig and suddenly see this sign hanging there….
now I don’t know if you’re familiar with the tragedy/drama “Faust” of Goethe? Here in Germany everyone knows this play, as it’s a mandatory part of high school. So practically everyone who has gone to school here, has read “Faust”.
The basic content of “Faust” is the professor named Faust – duh! – who is very unhappy with his life. By chance (after failed suicide) he encounters a poodle whom he invites into his house, by even greater chance this poodle is Mephisto, the devil (literally). As he reveals himself to Faust, they make a kind of treaty or bet (even literary scholars argue about which of the two is correct…) stating that the devil is Fausts servant on earth, trying to persuade him that life is worth living, until Faust is in a situation where he feels like this is the case. If that moment ever comes, the devil may take Faust and his soul and Faust shall be the servant of the devil for ever in hell. The further course of the drama is Mephisto taking Faust to many different places trying to get him to have that feeling. One of those places is the “Auerbachs Keller” where they encounter a few students from the university who are happily getting drunk… there is also a love story later in the drama.
Just saying, great german poetry – for anyone interested! 😉
The old city hall marks the center of the old city. It is the one of the only renaissance buildings left in Leipzig. Now it is home to the city museum, where you can see the great ballroom, the chamber of the city council and a room built-in the style of the late baroque, plus the only authentic portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by Elias Gottlob Haussmann. Bach is a very known classical composer, who lived and worked here.
New City Hall
Already in the early 1870s, the Leipzig administration thought about building a new city hall to represent the increasing role of Leipzig in Europe and to demonstrate power. Yet the plan was only set into action in 1897 when the competition on who would get the role of the architect in this project ended. Pre-requirement being that the new city hall must have the same/similar tower as the old one, since the latter had become a symbol for the town that was not to be changed. The architect Hugo Licht won. 1899 the construction started. 1912 the administration moved in.
This is one of the highest five courts in Germany and part of the judicial branch of the German politic . Matters that include data security, asylum, protection of nature, building plans, right of education, military and much more are treated, discussed and verdicts are decided.
The new Augusteum is the building of the University of Leipzig, located at the Augustusplatz, the central place of the city. This building is not very old, it was built from 2007 to 2009 in the context of a complete renovation of the uni’s buildings. The reason of this being that the original Augusteum was partly destroyed in WW2 and needed to be rebuilt. Yet later in 1968 the SED-Leaders decided to blow the building up, which is a shame, since with a little effort it could’ve been restored perfectly! Nevertheless, now we have a wonderful new and chic building!
Two interesting dates
1879 The first institute of the world for experimental psychology was opened here thanks to Wilhem Wundt.
1927 The first neurobiological chair in Germany was established.
Fun Fact Angela Merkel graduated here.
Built in the classicistic style of architecture in 1817, as the new place for the Opera of Leipzig to reside, it is located at the biggest central place in Leipzig, the Augustusplatz. The opera already existed before the building was erected. It was founded in 1693 as the third music theater in all of Europe, after Venice and Hamburg.
Currently, under the lead of Ulf Schirmer the general music director, the main musical focus lies on the german and Italian Romantic. If you want to hear Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini (I prefer the two latter), make sure you either have a ticket to a concert or you at least try the evening sale of tickets.
This is probably one of the two most known churches in Leipzig and when I say you HAVE to go into this church, you REALLY have to! It is not only one of the most important places where milestones in the modern and early German history was made, but the inside of it is astounding as well!
Built in 1165 in the romanesque style, it was always a work in progress. In the 15th and 16th century it was expanded and built into a three-aisled late gothic church.
The reformation of Martin Luther also started here, as he began holding his speeches in the Nikolai Church along with a fellow called Justus Jonas der Ältere.
It doesn’t stop there. On the 7th April 1724 Johann Sebastian Bach presented his Johannespassion for the first time in this church. This music is still very well-known and often played today!
Between 1784 and 1797 the inside as you can observe it today was renovated, inspired by the ideal of the Urhütte, which just marked very simple nature close architecture.
This palm pillar in front of the church was erected 1999 there. I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside, so I figured I’d show you this so you can imagine the inside as these pillars make up a big part. The rest, a lot of stucco, is held in the same rose and green pastel colors.
Now coming to the modern german history. I bet you’re all familiar with the GDR? And you all know that this system wasn’t sustainable and somehow overthrown in 1989. But maybe you don’t know where the protest against the regime began?
Well you’re about to find out and probably you already guessed!
It started here. In this very church.
With the so called Montagsdemonstrationen, which means nothing more than demonstrations held on Monday. These had their origin in Monday prayers in the early 1980s which were poorly visited. Yet what evolved from only prayers turned into peaceful demonstrations of – wait for it – over 100.000 people at the end of the 1980s!!! They wanted a democratic republic, free elections and freedom of travel (I can totally understand that). The 40th anniversary of the GDR was the last anniversary they will have ever celebrated as on this day thousands of people fled over the border into freedom and the rest that remained demonstrated against the regime. This demonstration took over and in the end the people won. The very end of the GDR was marked on the 9th of November 1989 when the Berlin wall “fell”.
I cannot tell you this story with out remarking one thing: We had a wall in Germany separating us. It was horrible, horrendous, brutal, marked by brutality and surveillance. We have been a german union for no longer than 27 years and reconciliation and reconstruction have been on our program ever since.
The wall was a huge mistake. So many people suffered.
Please let us learn from the mistakes germans made and not make them again! Walls are no solution to any problem, they are a tremendous problem themselves.
We don’t need more people to suffer, be shut out and suppressed.
What we need is to remember history.
What we need is understanding, peace and reconciliation.
Built in the 12th century as a romanesque church, along with the university of Leipzig in the same time period, it also played a role in the reformation chapter of history, as Martin Luther also held his talks here. From the beginning until now the Tomanenchoir is widely known as a great choir! This was also the church where Bach resided and worked. Many of his numerous pieces have their origin in this time, as he wrote a new mass practically every week. He also wrote a lot for his love, Maria Barbara.
Now to the architecture.
The church is made up of several different architectural epochs. As the altar is gothic and from 1355, the nave is from 1482 and late gothic, the tower from 1702, I still find they fit well together. In 1884 the baroque furniture was removed and the church was reequipped in new gothic style, like the Mendelssohn portal.
Fun Fact: Mozart also played on the organ here!
Another fact: In 1806 St. Thomas was used as an ammunition dump under Napoleon.
Statue of Goethe
The bronze statue was erected 1932, honoring Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s time of three years as a student at university here. It’s located at the Naschmarkt in front of the Old Stock Exchange.
It is widely known that Goethe had many, many love affairs in all the cities he went to. Hence a lot of inspiration for different poems. To my amusement Goethes two women in Leipzig also got a place on his statue, at each side of the plinth: Friederike Oeser and Käthchen Schönkopf.
If you have time and are interested in seeing a completely different type of architecture than what Leipzig has to offer, you should go see the Russian Church.
The church is a copy of a church in Moskau-Kolomenskoje. It has a typical russian pavilion roof, built-in frame construction by the architect Wladimir Alexandrowitsch Pokrowski. It’s supposed to be a memorial for the the 22.000 russian soldiers who died in the Völkerschlacht of 1813 (to find out what that was, keep on reading!).
Inside the church there is also a little library as well as a museum, so if you have the time, tell me how you liked it, as I didn’t have the time to look inside, I just marvelled at the outside.
Cost: 6-8 Euros
With it’s 91m height, it marks one of the largest memorials in all of Europe. This giant construction was built in honor and memory of all those who fell in the Völkerschlacht of 1813.
This fight took place from the 16th to the 19th October that year. It was part of the wars of liberation from Napoleon Bonaparte.
It was Austria, Prussia, Russia and Sweden against Napoleons troops, which included France of course, Italy and Napoleons Poland. The latter were defeated, but only later did Napoleon admit that he lost. He left Germany after the fight having lost great pieces of land.
The thing was that Germany didn’t fight as a union. Part of it was on Prussia’s side, like Bavaria and part of it fought on Napoleons side, like Leipzig. Bavaria for example quickly switched sides just before the fight from Napoleon to the Austria, Prussia etc. Leipzig probably would have done the same, had they not been the main base of Napoleon in Germany.
In total 600.000 soldiers fought against each other, making it the biggest combat in the history of the world before WW1. (You didn’t know that, did you?!;-) now that’s a fact to remember, if you want to play smarty-pants!) 92.000 of them were killed or injured.
Hence this giant memorial.
Another reason you should visit this place is because if you go all the way up you have the best view of the city and it’s surroundings!
Grimmaische Str. 6
I highly recommend visiting this museum, if only for an hour. It’s completely free, so you can enter and leave whenever your heart desires! (budget friendly!!)
Inside the history of the GDR is currently an exhibition, which is so worth visiting! With documents, pictures, posters, cars, books, toys, videos … from that time, everyday life is illustrated as well as the oppression of opposition, not to forget the demonstrations and the final fall of the regime (as I shortly mentioned earlier). It brings this time to life for you to take part in.
I recommend this for anyone, whether you’re older or younger, adult or child, there is something for everyone here!
Cost: 5 to 10 Euros (depending on whether you want to see everything or only one exhibition) + 2,50 Euros for taking photos (optional)
Visit this museum for inspiring art exhibitions of both modern and older artists. It’s an art work in itself on the inside as well, on the outside it’s getting renovated, as a local so charmingly said: „well because: ugly. I mean it’s ugly on the outside“ But as I said the inside is extremely chic, take a look yourself.
At the moment you can visit the following exhibitions: :
- Max Klinger/ Markus Lüpertz
- Nolde und die Brücke
- DDR auf Wänden
All of these are highly interesting and definitely worth visiting!!
The story of my visit of the exposition with all the photos will be a future post!
In Leipzig there are many wonderful places to run, as big parks are not a rarity. I suggest just wandering around the city and finding your favorite spot, taking your running shoes with you the next time you come there!
This is not the cheapest of all options, but definitely something unique. With a view of the backside of the old city hall, the front side of Goethe’s Statue and the Old Stock Exchange Building drinking a coffee or eating something small and enjoying some well-deserved rest will be wonderful here!
Grimmaische Str. 2-4
This is a very idyllic place to enjoy a light or not so light lunch. They have everything from gnocchi, Fish, Noodles, Risotto to light salads and locally baked cakes. Whatever your heart desires!
La Trattoria Amici
I highly recommend this place for some great italian food, friendly waiters and wonderfully ancient vibes. This is also the place to go if you want something non-touristy, as this place is packed with locals. Which is why you should try to get a reservation if you’re more than two people wanting to eat.
KarLi – Karl Liebknecht Straße
This place is packed with locals and students, who are all looking to eat well at a good price. You can find anything here. From Vietnamese, italian to african..anything! We were recommended this street by locals, but after walking from 9 am to 8 pm we decided to stay in the area of our hotel.
There are also local markets at this street, in front of interesting historic buildings:-)
This is only budget friendly, if you book over sites where they offer discounts or combination offers.
But if you do decide to stay here, the view over Leipzig won’t disappoint! From your room or at breakfast, you’ll have a full view over everything!
Ibis Budget / Ibis
This is nothing luxurious, but something budget-friendly full filling all needs. I personally like staying at Ibis hotels. The rooms are chic and comfy, breakfast is very large and satisfying (at a plus cost 11 Euros – but so worth it, if you eat much:-)) and the staff is very friendly.
Plus, these two hotels have a great central location, absolutely perfect!!
That was it.
I really hope this helped anyone planning a trip to Leipzig! And was interesting to read for the rest…and maybe inspiring?!
If you learned anything, like this post, if you have questions don’t hesitate to comment and if you want more posts like this follow my blog!!
This was a heck of a lot of work….but worth it!!
Until next time