1 March 2020

Leipzig and Dresden Travel Guide 2019

Leipzig and Dresden are in the east of Germany, south of Berlin, and are easily accessible from anywhere in Germany by train.



LEIPZIG

Accommodation:

Radisson Blu, Augustusplatz
https://www.radisson-leipzig.com/en/
Just 5 minutes walk from the Hauptbahnhof, opposite the Opera House and Gewandhaus Concert Hall. A business-oriented hotel, with good facilities and a decent breakfast.

Visitor Card:

There is a Leipzig Card, valid for 1 or 3 days, which gives free public transport and some discounts.
https://english.leipzig.de/leisure-culture-and-tourism/tourism/leipzig-card/
https://www.leipzig.travel/en/offers/welcome-cards/leipzig-cards/

A 15% discount is given at the Tourist Information by presenting your valid DB train ticket on the day of arrival, along with a "mittenrein reisen" bonus coupon, downloadable here.
There is also a booklet of regional discounts for train travellers, but nothing to write home about (wittenberg's 360 degree panoramic history of the Reformation, anyone?)
Food:

Bayerischer Bahnhof, Bayrischer Platz 1
https://www.bayerischer-bahnhof.de/
At a disused main-line station dating from 1842, just 10 minutes beyond the southern ring road, the Bayerischer Bahnhof now contains a large pub-diner. You need to make reservations as it is always popular. This is a good place for beer fans, as it serves its own Gose wheat beer, flavoured with coriander and salt.

Nordsee, Markt 9, and in the Hauptbahnhof
https://www.nordsee.com/de/
A German chain of fish restaurants, great for a main meal or for fishy snack food.

Shopping:

Gudrun Sjoden, Nikolaistrasse 38
https://gsw.gudrunsjoden.com/uk/gudruns-world/store_leipzig
Swedish clothes for women, with some homewares

Sightseeing:

Paulinum, Augustusplatz 10
https://www.uni-leipzig.de/en/university/profile/paulinum/
On the same square as the Opera House and Concert Hall, the old church facade has been incorporated into the new University buildings, and the church inside is a blaze of whiteness, neon and other light sculptures. Paulinum is open Tue-Sat 11am to 3pm, and there are also guided tours available.
Behind the church, the university has a statue of Leibniz, mathematician, rival of Newton, and inventor of the Choco Leibniz biscuit.

Old Town Hall, Markt
https://www.stadtgeschichtliches-museum-leipzig.de/en/visit/our-museums/old-town-hall/
Built in 1556, you can explore the many floors of this impressive trade hall, including the draughty attic. As well as a history of the city, there are many paintings and artefacts showing how Leipzigers have lived through the centuries.

Thomaskirche, Thomaskirchhof 18
https://www.thomaskirche.org/entdecken/bauwerk/
An impressive cathedral-sized building, with a tower (closed until 2021) with large bell display.

Monument of the Battle of the Nations, Strasse des 18. Oktober 100
https://www.stadtgeschichtliches-museum-leipzig.de/en/visit/our-museums/monument-of-the-battle-of-the-nations/
Bizarrely built in 1913, just before a World War, this enormous blocky sculpture was actually to commemorate the 1813 battle where the coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden defeated Napoleon's French army. It has a 91 metre tower and information displays.
Transport options are tram 15 from the Hbf or tram 2 from the southern ring road to Leipzig V├Âlkerschlachtdenkmal, or the S3 train to a stop with the same name, a little further away.

Hauptbahnhof
This is possibly the widest station in the world, owing to the fact that the 300 metre facade was built to separate out the Royal Saxon and the Prussian state railways, with an entrance for each. It also has Europe's largest station floor area, at 83,000 sq metres. The shopping area is on 3 levels and is well worth exploring, with and Aldi and a Spar. The food options include Pizza Hut, Burger King, Nordsee, KFC, Subway, McDonalds, and a multitude of bakeries.
https://www.promenaden-hauptbahnhof-leipzig.de/

N'Ostalgie Museum, Nikolaistrasse 28 – 32
https://www.nostalgiemuseum-leipzig.de/index.php/de/
Hardly comparable to Berlin's DDR Museum, this is more like a warehouse of stuff, with a souvenir shop attached.

Holocaust Memorial, Zentralstra├če 4
To the west of the city, the 140 chairs represent the 14,000 members of the synagogue who were taken from the city and killed.

Leipzig was home to annual trade fairs during the Cold War, and was often the only part of East Germany that was visited by Western businessmen. You can find out more about the history of Leipziger Messe at https://www.fu-berlin.de/en/presse/informationen/wissenschaft/2014/201403/leipziger-messe.html, and pick up some souvenir badges at the bookshop in the Markt.

Leipzig is a city of music, with houses and sculptures commemorating Schumann, Mendelssohn, Grieg, Wagner and Bach, amongst others. Pick up a Music Trail leaflet and follow the metal clefs embedded in the pavement all around town, along with information boards and an app.

Leipzig was also one of the centre's of the Peaceful Revolution if Autumn 1989, where citizens tried to reform the DDR by demonstrations, rather than fleeing to the West. Their chants of "We are the people" and "We are staying here" were brutally repressed by Erich Honecker. There is a signposted route through the city, with 20 sites and an app, showing the events that took place inside the city.



DRESDEN

This is doable as a day trip from Leipzig, with trains every hour taking about 1h15m. Because both cities are in Saxony, you can get a Sachsen-Ticket (€25 for 1 person, €33 for two) for travel after 9am Mon-Fri, all day weekends, not valid on all fast trains.

The station is a long walk from the main centre, along a pedestrianised avenue reminiscent of British New Town shopping precincts. One has to remember a combination of WW2 bombing, and the Communists, have not left much of the modern city in a stylish state. Fortunately some old buildings have survived.

Visitor Card:

There is a Dresden Card, valid for 1, 2 or 3 days, which gives free public transport, free entry to most museums, and some discounts.
https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/dresden-welcome-cards.php

Tourist Information is at Neumarkt 2, by the Frauenkirche.
https://www.dresden.de/en/tourism/information/dresden-information.php

Boat Trip:

A chance to travel along the Elbe, on a boat with a great restaurant on board - sausages, soup, schnitzel and ragout. There is a one hour cruise in summer, and in the srping and autumn the ship stops at Blasewitz where you can disembark for a couple of hours before taking a later boat back to Dresden.
https://www.saechsische-dampfschiffahrt.de/
They leave from Pier 2, on the river just north of the Frauenkirche, and you can buy tickets online or at their offices at Georg-Treu-Platz 3

Sightseeing:

In the Altmarkt, there is the Kulturpalast, a building which readily betrays its DDR origins https://www.kulturpalast-dresden.de/en/kulturpalast-dresden.html
There is also the rebuilt Kreuzkirche https://www.kreuzkirche-dresden.de/kirche/geschichte.html

In the Neumarkt, the rebuilt Frauenkirche and its statue of Luther represent the Reformation. You can visit the Dome. https://www.frauenkirche-dresden.de/en/visits/

Dresden State Art Collection
https://www.skd.museum/en/
Spread over 14 museums, there is plenty to fill several days. We only had time for one:
Albertinum, on Salzgasse near the Frauenkirche, though the entrance is on the river side.
https://www.skd.museum/en/besuch/albertinum/
Art from the Romantic period to the present day, with a beautiful atrium, a sculpture collection, a Gerhard Richter archive, and special exhibitions.

From the Bruhl Terrace outside, you can walk along the old Dresden city walls by the river.

If you have time, cross the bridge over the Elbe to Innere Neustadt, the northern half of the city which has a very different feel. There are museums, theatres, Baroque townhouses, but also a counter-culture feel and graffiti murals.

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