I am going to Berlin in early June and am considering a side trip to Bachfest Leipzig. http://www.bach-leipzig.de/index.php?id=26&L=1 Have you ever been? Do you know anything about it? I would appreciate any info on whether I should go and if so, what I should see. Thanks.
Leipzig is an easy 1 hour train ride from Berlin and a great destination! The Bach Festival is a great opportunity. You want to see St Thomas Church where he used to work but there's so much more: * A great way to start a visit to Leipzig is by taking the elevator up the City Hochhaus ("skyscraper") for the views. The Hochhaus is on the famed large Augustusplatz, with the opera on one side and symphony hall on the other. In front of symphony hall is the Mendebrunnen, a decorative fountain which survived the war in storage. * Continue exploring the historic centre from there. There are numerous shopping arcades called "Passage", some of them historic and quite unique. My favourite is the "Maedler Passage". You can also find a Glockenspiel made of Meissen porcelain there. And "Auerbachs Keller". That's a historic restaurant made famous by Goethe who placed some scenes of "Faust" there. It may be touristy but the food is decent, not expensive and the atmosphere is really quite something. * On my last visit to Leipzig my first stop was the Nikolai Church. This is where the "Monday Demonstrations" started the "Peaceful Revolution" in spring 1989 which eventually led to the fall of the Wall. Half of the city's population and many from towns surrounding Leipzig were on the streets calling "Wir sind das Volk" (we are the people). If you have a chance to talk to somebody who's been there do so! * Don't miss the exhibit about the Stasi (Secret Service in former East Germany) in the "Museum Runde Ecke". Absolutely chilling! It's run by a non-profit organization and free. There are very good audio guides in English available for a small fee.
cont. * Leipzig has some of the oldest coffee houses in Europe. Check out "Coffe Baum" which also has a coffee museum http://www.coffebaum.de/ * Porsche has a plant in Leipzig and factory tours can be arranged (book in advance!): http://www.porsche-leipzig.com/default.aspx * Leipzig also has some very interesting old industrial sites. Most of them have been converted into housing since reunification. Plagwitz is one of the more interesting areas. You can walk along the canals and contrary to 20 years ago you don't need to plug your nose anymore doing so ;-) The "Buntgarnwerke" is probably one of the most impressive buildings. I came across a very interesting website that gives some good background on the area. I don't know the company behind this but it might be worthwhile checking them out. We had my aunt and a good friend (he did his Masters thesis on the Buntgarnwerke) as tour guides in the area. http://www.architektouren.com/english/leipzig/tour_7.html * Talking about canals, during the warmer months of the year you can actually get a gondola for a tour! The website below talks about the gondola tours but also has a lot of other touristic information on Leipzig http://www.ltm-leipzig.de/cs/click.system?navid=1611&jumpancor=ps3166&sid=c#ps3166
contd. * Voelkerschlachtdenkmal - a monument to commemorate the "battle of the nations" who defeated Napoleon at Leipzig in 1813 (besides Germans from the various states, Austrians and Russians fought side by side.). This is a very famous site as it's the largest monument in Europe. Rather ugly, but interesting as you can also go inside, get up the stairs and then get some good views from the top. * The Russian Church nearby the monument (commemorating the Russian troops who fell during the battle) is beautiful inside and out. You can recognize it by the golden domes or spires.
Gary, Beatrix has pretty much said it all. The last time I was in Leipzig, we went to the Hochhaus - skyscraper to the restaurant almost on top and then went on to the roof - had a wonderful outlook over Leipzig by night at a full moon. They sell champagne by the glass when you get off the elevator, just before a short stair case to the roof. I hope they still do, I was there four years ago. All the major sights Beatrix mentioned are clustered in the center of the city, fanning out from the old market square and walkable, with lots of restaurants and cafes in between. If you go for the Bachfest, make sure you order tickets in advance. By the way, the main railway station - Hauptbahnhof - is also close to the center of the city; buses and street cars going in all directions stop in front of it but if you stay close in, a taxi ride would also be very reasonable.
Excellent summary of some of the highlights of Leipzig. Truly one of the cities most steeped in classical music, with professional performers and music students seemingly all overs the place. Wonderful to hear Bach's music performed in the church where he worked for many years. Two minor items: As of a year ago, yes, they were still selling champagne. But be warned, it can get REALLY windy @ the top ! And lets not call the Denkmal "ugly, " those i will accept "imposing" ... in any case its worth a visit.
Laura, I connect a lot of fond memories with the Voelkerschlachtdenkmal. It is monumental in the best sense of the word but beauty is a different concept in my books. However, last time I was there they were in the process of restaurations and cleaning it up. Decades of socialist style coal mining (i.e. with no regard to air pollution) have done little to make this monument more attractive ... Hopefully, it will once again shine in its full glory by 2013, the 100th anniversary of the Voelkerschlachtdenkmal and the 200th anniversary of the epic battle.
Just feel compelled to defend a little drop of family honor here. My great grandfather's work is in some of those big statues inside ! And yes, it is being cleaned and restored for the big anniversary celebration next October. There are to be several days of memorial observances, musical performances, military reenactments, etc. from what i am reading, Should be quite an event. I plan to be there.
Hi, I agree with recommendations given above, especially if you want to see music and historical sites, such as Bach's house, Mendelsohn's house/museum, and so, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal and Museum. I thought the museum on the battle would be larger. Leipzig Hbf is a huge and interesting station to explore in itself. You can take the ICE train from Berlin Hbf to Leipzig, from which that train proceeds to Dresden.
Yes you could take an ICE from Berlin to Leipzig. And they go quite frequently every hour. However, there is also the Interconnex, a private train company that runs twice a day on this line and takes the same time as the ICE. But it costs less then the Bahn tickets. Special saving tickets start at 14 Euro (online booking ahead of time) up to 23 Euro when bought sitting already in the train. Bahn tickets start at 29 Euro (online booking ahead of time) up to 45 Euro at regular price. www.interconnex.com
I went to Bachfest Leipzig and it was wonderful. I highly recommend it. Great music. Many of the concerts are free. The staff is great and very helpful. Nice city. Overall, a great experience!