Leipzig has an illustrious history of being a city of learning, art, trade and philosophy. So it’s no wonder that the movement to topple the former GDR regime was born not in Berlin, but right here in Leipzig. The Runde Ecke (‘round corner’) and Stasi Bunker museums are well worth a visit to learn of this era and of the infamous Stasi secret police that held the GDR regime together.
The Stasi Bunker is located in Machern about 25km outside the city. Entrance to the Runde Ecke museum in the Zentrum is free though most displays are in German only. The Runde Ecke location offers guided tours (available in English) of the museum and also around the city. One city tour is called “In the Footsteps of the Peaceful Revolution”. Similarly the self-guided “Sites of the Peaceful Revolution” takes you on a tour through 20 locations, marked by pillars, where important events occurred and brought the regime to its knees in 1989/1990.
Anyone with the vaguest interest in the DDR and the events leading up to the re-unification of Germany will thoroughly enjoy either of these museums.
Hours: 10am to 6pm, Mon-Sun
Tram: Take 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 12, 14 or 15 to
Founded in 1878 this is a proper world-class Zoo with just about every creature represented except the Loch Ness monster. The large site is divided into theme worlds. My favourite, especially for a wintry day, is the steamy Gondwanaland tropical jungle. You can walk or take a boat tour around Gondwanaland and there are places to eat, shop and chill out. The Siberian tiger enclosure and Pongoland (apes) are very cool as well. The Zoo is a great day out for all ages. If you’re going to be in Leipzig for a year or more look into the annual pass. There’s far too much to see in one visit so it’s definitely worth going several times. The Zoo’s website is very good and does justice to this great facility. Have a look here.
Hours: open 9am-5pm Winter, til 6pm Spr/Aut, til 7pm Summer.
Tram: Take tram 12 to Zoo stop
Belantis is a passable Disneyworld-like theme park about 12km south from central Leipzig. There are two excellent rides adults will be interested in; the Huracan and Belantius. Kids about 7-years and older will absolutely love this place, but adults may not like the expensive food and queuing. Bring hats and water if the sun is out. We brought our own food and no one seemed to mind. There’s enough variety to easily spend 6-8 hours here. The park itself is quite big so expect plenty of walking. Family ticket for 2 adults and 3 kids was €120. Despite what others may say we think this represents good value for what it is.
Hours: Seasonal April to October only
Tram: Take 3 to Knautkleeberg stop then the 118 Regional bus. Or drive, plenty of parking.
By 1894 the Leipziger Baumwollspinnerei (‘cotton mill’) was like a city within a city. It was the biggest cotton spinning mill in Europe with an output second only to the mills of northern England. Working conditions and wages however did not reflect this success. Karl Liebknecht led a struggle to unionize and improved conditions. During WW2 the factory management notably (and fatally) refused to use slave labour.
Various random industries occupied the premises until the DDR regime fell in 1989. Things came to a complete collapsed in 1993 and the site stood disused and abandoned like a vast ghost town occupied by a few radical artists and squatters. In 2001 investors bought the entire 10 hectare site with 90,000m2 of building space and began to slowly, piece-by-piece create the artist community you see today. Many believe the turning point was May 2005 when an exhibition attracted an international audience of 10,000. Since then Leipzig is firmly on the global art map.
Hours: usually til 6pm, but check
Tram: Take tram 14 to S-Bahnhof Plagwitz stop
Battle of Nations
The Battle of Nations monument (‘Völkerschlachtdenkmal’) sits in a lovely park setting in Zentrum-Südost. This mind-blowing edifice was finished in 1913 to commemorate the 1813 Battle of the Nations. An epic battle that effectively ended Napoleon’s dominance over Europe. Check out this website for more information on the background to the battle, tours and related exhibitions. Also see our blogpost here.
In any other city in Europe this would be a major tourist trap. But this is Leipzig, where understatement is the norm. There’s a guide shop where you pay an entrance fee of €8 to go inside the monument (worth it for the views alone) plus a small but interesting museum opposite. Part of the monument is accessible for free. There’s a restaurant / beer garden across the road from the main entrance. Behind and to side of the monument park is a cemetery, the grounds of which are extremely serene and beautiful and well worth an amble.
Hours: 10am to 6pm summer, til 4pm winter
Tram: Take tram 2 or 15 to Völkerschlachtdenkmal stop
[page content last updated November 2016]