A Night Walk in Leipzig

Heritage Times was launched one year ago, during the 2016 edition of “Denkmal”, the largest European fair for monument restoration. It was also the occasion, for me as an enthusiast about Germany, to see for the first time Leipzig, one of the most engaging cities of the country.
Since I had to stay at the fair for most of the day, the only chance to discover the city was after the sunset. With its wide avenues and impressive buildings, Leipzig looked to me greater than it actually is. Today it ranks 10 among the largest German cities, but before the First World War it was the fourth.
The result of that short journey was a series of fascinating night shots, which enhance the monumentality and the architectural diversity of the Saxon metropolis.

Exiting my B&B just after my arrival, I was surprised by this magnificently illuminated old gasholder.
In contrast with other large German cities, many historic buildings survived the heavy bombings of the Second World War. Not the Old Stock Exchange from 1687, rebuilt in 1962 after a fire destroyed it in 1943.
The Old City Hall, one of the most important Renaissance buildings in Germany, built in 1557 and constantly renovated in the following centuries.
A symbol of Leipzig’s richness: the commercial galleries (“Passagen”) inside the buildings of the city centre. Mädlerpassage, opened in 1914, is one of the best preserved.
Specks Hof, the oldest preserved commercial gallery, built in several stages among 1908 and 1929.
Augustusplatz is the stage of one of the Leipzig’s pride: music. In front of the Stalinist Opera House stands the Neues Gewandhaus, a beautiful concert hall opened in 1981. It hosts the Gewandhaus Orchestra, one of the leading symphony orchestras in the world.
The Neues Gewandhaus is overlooked by the City-Hochhaus, built in 1972 for the University of Leipzig and, when it was inaugurated, the highest high-rise building in Germany.
In 1905 the city administration moved into the magnificient Neues Rathaus, still today the biggest city hall in Germany and one of the largest in the world.
Another striking building is the Reichsgerichtsgebäude, built in 1895 to host the Supreme Court of the German Empire. Since 2002 it’s home of another national tribunal, the Federal Administrative Court.
Leipzig has been for centuries a manufacturing center. Artificial canals were made to power water wheels across the city. Covered after they became useless, canals like the Pleißemühlgraben in front of the Supreme Court are going to be reopened for a better hydraulic protection of the city.
Quiet in Plagwitz, a former industrial neighborhood.
The Russian Memorial Church was inspired by the tsarist estate of Kolomenskoye. It was inaugurated in 1913 to honor the 22.000 Russian soldiers died in the Battle of Leipzig 100 years before.
Night is probably the best time to meet for the first time the Monument to the Battle of the Nations (Völkerschlachtdenkmal), the true landmark of Leipzig. The pond perfectly reflects the 91 mt. high structure made to commemorate the battle where Austria, Russia, Prussia and other allies defeated Napoleon in 1813, sending him to his first exile on Elba.
At the base of the monument, the German war motto “Gott mit uns” (God with us) dominates a giant relief of Michael the Archangel, protector of the soldiers. Around 600.000 men took part at the Battle of Leipzig, 100.000 of them died.

The greatness expressed by the architecture reflects a period when Leipzig was a commercial, industrial and cultural stronghold of the German Empire and, later, of the German Democratic Republic. But I didn’t feel to walk in a city stuck in the glory of the past: instead, the excellent conditions of the monuments show the new rise of Leipzig as one of the fastest growing cities in the reunified Germany.