Enjoy a Short City Break in Leipzig, Germany
Leipzig could be the saviour of the weekend away. Located in Germany's old East, a few years ago you could be forgiven for not knowing much about Saxony's largest city, but now, as other cities become saturated with tourists, Leipzig has emerged as the ultimate secret getaway.
While peaceful protests i the city in 1989 directly led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was Leipzig itself that threatened with demolition after reunification. The city had fallen into such a state of disrepair some architects argued that it would be worth knocking it down altogether.
Thanksfully, for the half a million people living there and the thousands of young creatives flocking there each year, that didn't happen. This is a city rich in culture that is a natural draw to artists, with a laid-back attitude that sets it aside from other more hectic European cities, while it is only a one-hour train ride from Berlin.
But while it can be an interesting place to stroll through, with an abundance of interesting galleries and fascinating architecture, Leipzig also offers a vivacious nightlife. This is not a place to be mainstream; Leipzig's nightlife is still very rooted in the ramshackle squatter scene and club culture took off in the 1990s.
Around the Südvorshadt on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße, building due for demolition were turned into makeshift bars, sound systems and theatre stages. The area grew into a meeting place for young people looking for a space they could call their own and an alternative to commercial music. Today the venues have spilled out beyond these former limits. 'KarLi', as the street has been nicknamed by locals, is a remarkable mix of culture and gastronomy.
Chain bars and coffee shops are sparse in this city, replaced with a proud sense of identity among the mix of Soviet-era blocks, Baroque architecture and Art Nouveau facades. Both an institution and the alternative heart of Connewitz, Conne Island is a self-governing culture centre 'by and for left-wing, youth, pop and sub-cultures'. Situated at the other end of KarLi is naTo - the trade fair city's cinema venue for alternative films that are a far cry from corporate multiplexes.
The Distillery is the oldest techno club in eastern Germany and respected worldwide for its well curated line-up of DJs. Next door, Leipzig's latest club project has emerged on the site of the former Kohlrabizirkus Market Hall. The club Institut Für Zukunft has been financed by a crowd-funding campaign and attracts party-goers with techno and house beats.
For anyone looking for a more leisurely night out, check our former materials testing machine factory Werk II, which has a commendable pub and houses galleries and associations.
In the west of the city are new clubs such as Alte Damenhandschuhfabrik, in a historic ladies' glove factory, and Täubchenthal, in the converted offices of a spinning mill. Karl-Heine- Straße, in the fashionable district of Plagwitz, is home to cultural venues such as Schaubühne Lindenfels, the Westwerk and bars such as Noch Besser Leben ('Live Even Better'), which offers both guest rooms and regular club nights.
After the nightlife you'll need to recharge - luckily, Leipzig is gastronomy and coffee heaven (the people of Leipzig are known as the 'Kaffeesachsen' or 'Coffee-Saxons'). As far back as 1695 there were already coffee shops here in this city of trade fairs, and they were popular meeting places. Today, the tradition is preserved in a number of historical cafes in the city centre.
Culinary specialities include the Leipziger Allerlei, a dish of peas and crayfish, and the city's restaurant scene has long been crowned by the only two-star Michelin restaurant in East Germany outside Berlin: FALCO, towering over the city on the 27th floor of the Westin Leipzig.
Another hot candidate for culinary accolades is the Australian chef Paul, owner of The B10, For casual fine dining in the heart of the city, Planerts, opening up just outside the beautifully restored Oelssers Hof passageway, has proved to be an instant hit. Inspired by many trips to Asia, host Stefan Planert opted for a light, healthy and intelligible menu carried by Far Eastern influences.
ENJOY LEIPZIG CLASSICAL SIDE
Leipzig mixes 1,001 years of tradition with a young heart, and this is no better seen than in its rich classical music scene. The recent appointment of the celebrated conductor Andris Nelson, at 37 he is the youngest Gewandhauskapellmeister of the past 150 years underlines how Leipzig both treasures its tradition and embraces the future.
No city outside Vienna can claim the same musical heritage as Leipzig. The Gewandhaus Orchestra has cultivated classical music in Leipzig for over 250 years.
St. Thomas Boy's Choir was founded over 800 years ago by the Opera House is the third oldest civilian music theatre stage in Europe. The city's cultural and architectural beauty has always been a source of inspiration for creative minds, such as the composers Johann Sebastia Bach, Felix Mandelssohn-Bartholdy, Robert and Clara Schumann and Richard Wagner.
In the summer, many of Leipzig's music festivals can be enjoyed open air, often for free. Check out BACHmosphere on Leipzig market square as part of the annual Bachfest Leipzig, Klassik airleben with the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Rosental Park or the Monday Concerts at the Bach Monument in front of St. Thomas Church.
With so much to choose from and with a compact city centre, Leipzig is an easy place to enjoy for a weekend break.