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Right Place. Right Time.
Germany has long excelled at surprising travellers.
And one new German hotspot definitely has the power to surprise you about Germany again.
I have just returned from a dynamic and energizing trip to a unique German urban experience.
Whether you like traditional German food or chilling in a park with local German artists and hipsters, Leipzig has successfully edged it way near to the top of the new ‘must-see’ list in Germany.
Here’s a taster on why this city is being talked about so much these days.
Location, location, location
Occupying prime territory right in the heart of the former East Germany, Leipzig is centrally located and attracting the attention of growing numbers of people – and for some pretty sound reasons.
People are currently moving to Leipzig as it represents the latest in what’s next in Germany’s continuing reinvention of its culture, since reunification of East and West more than 25 years ago.
What is happening is a powerful and intoxicating combination of traditional German history, mixed with flavours from the East and turbo-charged by a new hip dynamic and youth-filled culture causing thousands of new residents and tourists alike to experience the cool vibe of Leipzig.
Getting there and back is almost too easy – with one of the world’s most useful airports just minutes away from the town centre. I took a local train which was just a few euro (€4.30) and got me into the heart of town in less than 30 minutes. I heard that if you catch an intercity train from the airport station, you can be at the Hauptbahnhof Central Station in ELEVEN minutes. Simple.
For ground transport when I was there I was able to choose from local trams and buses as well as an easy to navigate Metro system. I opted for the S-Bahn as it stops in all the places I needed to be – but much of what you will enjoy is easy walking in or near to the city centre.
To get my bearings, I arranged a two-hour guided walking tour – a great way to get an initial handle on the geography.
My guide was great – with part of her personal story being attending the demonstrations back in the days of the East – when Leipzig was (as it turns out it so often is) right at the centre of what was happening. The regular Monday demonstrations for more civil liberties and freedoms began in Leipzig just outside the St Nicholas Church. Today there stands a series of lighted cobble ‘stones’ to highlight what became the start of peaceful revolutions across East Germany in 1989 and began at that very spot.
My guide explained how and why things took place in the ways they did. What struck me most was the protestors’ unyielding belief in a better life, free from state surveillance and grounded in peace. The ‘electric’ cobblestones you find there today recognise that every week the demonstrations grew and grew in size, but there was a concerted – and successful – effort to advise people peacefully protesting to resist any anger they felt and to leave the stones in the road.
Peace won – and the unified Germany we know today was being born on those streets of Leipzig.
We navigated on the tour through the main squares of the town and saw so much history as we went.
History lives in Leipzig
When you step outside your hotel, history you’ve heard of is right there. So much of what has made Germany the place it is today is all round you.
As well as 1989’s Leipzig demonstrations for peace that changed Germany forever, the city is crammed with reminders of key moments in history.
Experience how life felt before the 1989 Peaceful Revolution began – visit the Stasi Museum. I cannot say it was a ‘nice’ experience to see what state-sponsored surveillance felt like for the residents of the city back then, but it was immensely powerful – and something I will never forget.
There are many museums to suit all different kinds of tastes.
Check out Part 2 of the Leipzig experience to learn how dining, hip East cool and a fresh LGBT scene will round out your visit to Leipzig beautifully.