The New Town Hall in central Leipzig
Despite the status of Leipzig being far less of a tourist magnet than Dresden, among the city's claims to fame are its lively student population, and the fact that it played host to a few key matches in the 2006 Football World Cup tournament. In recent times, money has been poured into the development of the city to elevate its status somewhat, and perhaps the best piece of evidence of this is the brand spanking new 400 million euro shopping complex tagged onto Leipzig's main station, which is itself Europe's largest in terms of floor space. Roughly speaking, the city's chief attractions are all enclosed within a ring road, within which all the prominent public buildings and commercial areas are located.
Stately-looking public building.
One of the city's most striking buildings is the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall), situated at the southern end of this central enclave, which contrasts well with one or two more modern-looking buildings in the immediate area. In terms of the exclusive end of the shopping scale, look no further than the cluster of shops contained within the 'Madler Passage' shopping arcade, which is essentially 4 corridors which converge into one central spot, reminding me of a diminuitive version of the Gallerie in central Milan. The city is synonymous with Bach, and there is indeed a museum dedicated to the great composer located fairly centrally in Leipzig. In a 2006 Europe-wide survey, Leipzig was officially rated Europe's cheapest city, and although this statistic may not still hold five years on, it feels palpably cheaper than nearby Dresden, and perhaps suggests why students flock there and are able to sustain themselves on a reasonable budget.
Quintessentially Germanic styles in central Leipzig
Here in the UK, the independent music shops are dying a slow and painful death thanks, for the most part, to internet sales and downloads which have all but killed off the independent retailer's business. In Leipzig however, there was firm evidence to suggest that this type of store was very much being kept afloat, and satisfied this shopper's desire to get hold of some German CDs which would act as timely reminders of my city break to Germany. Wall art is represented on a fairly impressive scale here, which hints at the city's artistic flair, and other cultural aspects such as the city's Opera House suggest that there is indeed life beyond the youth cultural facets readily consumed by the student population. Despite the developments already up-and-running, Leipzig also gave the impression of being something of a city in transition to elevate its status even further, and a sizeable construction site close to the train station left me wondering how the cityscape would appear in a couple of years time when the urban terrain has additional features.
Italian-esque building with Venetian overtones
All in all, the effects of Leipzig were by no means immediate, but the city revealed its teeth after spending a couple of hours wandering through the streets and absorbing the sights and sounds which more than validated both the return rail fare and the one-day departure from Dresden needed to experience the place. On the back of the Dresden and Leipzig trip, I can safely declare my fulfilment of sampling the Saxony region's highlights, and with a renewed sense of confidence of having re-kindled my spoken German skills, I hereby declare this city break's mission to have been accomplished, the memories of which will no doubt glow until my next similar-length European escapade.