|The St. Thomas Boys Choir performs at the famous St. Thomas Church.|
From Johann Sebastian Bach to Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, and a veritable orchestra of maestros who have been born, or have lived or died in Leipzig through the centuries, this small but stately city in Germany’s north-west Saxony is rightfully anchored at the epicenter of Europe’s rich cultural history.
|The Bach Festival draws thousands of music lovers each June.|
Leipzig commemorates and celebrates its musical heritage with passion. The city will mark the 800th anniversary of the world-famous St. Thomas Boys Choir, Church and School in 2012 and the 200th birthday of Richard Wagner in 2013, making the next two years a fascinating time to visit.
In 2012, the city will also unveil the new Leipzig Music Trail, a three-mile walking route connecting the city’s most significant historical sites with distinctive stainless steel ground markers identifying each attraction.
The recently opened Bach-Museum on St. Thomas Square is a highlight of the new trail, exhibiting a treasure trove of hand-penned scores, original manuscripts, precious instruments and priceless memorabilia from the life and works of Bach. Tip: The touch screen interactive display in the Research Laboratory adds a contemporary edge to the classical music artifacts.
Bach was cantor of the neighboring St. Thomas Church for 27 years and is buried under the main altar. Note: The St. Thomas Boys Choir performs occasional concerts in the church, but you can also hear them sing on Fridays at 6 p.m., Saturdays at 3 p.m. and at Sunday services.
Another must-see in the city is Mendelssohn House, the only remaining private home of the great composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, which has been painstakingly restored to what it looked like when he lived there in 1845.
The acclaimed Gewandhaus Concert Hall and Leipzig Opera vie for attention on either side of central Augustusplatz, while the Schumann House on Inselstrasse is one of the city’s architectural gems.
|Maedler-passage is Leipzig’s most stylish shopping area.|
If you start confusing Beethoven with Bach and Mozart with Mendelssohn, take a break from the music scene with a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts on Katherinenstrasse. Children will love Leipzig Zoo (www.zoo-leipzig.de) which recently opened Gondwanaland, Europe’s largest tropical hall.
The most stylish shopping arcade in Leipzig is Maedler-Passage where you’ll find upscale designer stores such as Aigner, Mont Blanc and Wempe.
The historical Auerbachs Keller in the same arcade is worth dining at just to see the dramatic cellar decorated with scenes of Faust by Goethe, who was a regular at the tavern when he was a student in Leipzig from 1765 to 1768. End your evening with a drink in one of the city’s lively pub alleys, Kleine Fleischergasse or Barfussgasse, which are short walks away.
For a more sophisticated evening, Falco Bar, Lounge and Restaurant at The Westin Leipzig Hotel on Gerberstrasse is positioned on the 27th floor, hundreds of feet above the city, with panoramic views of the skyline. The bar serves an array of aged whiskeys, digestifs and cocktails, and the sleek restaurant has two Michelin stars to its name.
Tip: Stadtpfeiffer in the Gewandhaus is another highly recommended restaurant with one Michelin star and a great place to dine before a concert. For a slice of history with fine food, reserve a table at Niemanns Tresor, set in a former private bank near St. Thomas Church.
One of the best late-night bars in Leipzig is Chocolate, on Gottschedstrasse. It’s also a popular restaurant but really comes alive after 10 p.m. when the city’s party crowd hits the bar and disco. Note: The bar specializes in coffee, cocoa and chocolate drinks, hence the name, but be warned, it’s also a smoker’s bar.
Built in 1770 as a private residence for Karl Eberhard Lohr, a respectable banker and city councilor, this elegant mansion is now one of the best luxury hotels in Leipzig.
On Troendlinring, a five-minute walk from the city’s historical center, Hotel Fuerstenhof bears all the hallmarks of its patrician heritage while delivering a contemporary and stylish guest experience.
|The Johann Sebastian Bach monument in St. Thomas Square.|
The entrance lobby has a country-house feel with sink-into sofas and armchairs, fresh flowers and a whisper-quiet ambiance, along with a polite and efficient check-in staff to whisk you through the formalities and up to your room.
Luxury Travel Advisor’s Grand Deluxe Room No.121 compares favorably to a suite in other city hotels, with a king bed, large windows that open to the fresh air, an office-size desk and a well-appointed marble bathroom.
Note: There are no irons/boards in the rooms and the TVs are outdated, but General Manager Jorg Muller ([email protected]rycollection.com; 011-49-341-140-4608) says new flat-screen TVs are being installed in all 92 guest rooms this summer.
The Fuerstenhof’s six larger and more luxurious Executive Suites (Nos. 102-104 and 202-204) are the most requested premium accommodations, and all the suites (on floors 1-4 with room numbers ending 02-04) overlook the hotel square and have the best views of the historical center.
The Wintergarden bar, with its Tiffany-inspired glass ceiling, makes for a cozy pre-dinner cocktail before dinner in Restaurant Villers where up-and-coming Head Chef Till Weiss is a contender for his first Michelin star with interesting dishes like sturgeon rillette with fennel honey and lobster confit with champagne risotto. For a more casual bistro-style meal, opt for Vinothek 1770 with its 140 wine selections. Contact Service Manager Volker Theilig ([email protected]; 011-49-341-140-4908) with queries.
The subterranean AquaMarin Spa is managed and owned by one of Germany’s wellness experts Riccardo Suesser ([email protected]; 011-49-172-548-6020) and has a Finnish sauna, a relaxed Wellness-Area for beauty treatments, fitness room and landscaped pool. Tip: Treatments should be booked at least 24 hours ahead.
Hotel Fuerstenhof is part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection. Contact Mandy Rotting ([email protected]; 011-49-341-140-4703) for details.