Once your travel anxiety has subsided, you’ll notice that Leipzig is actually an incredible city. Some people call it the ‘New Berlin’; others disagree and say that it is still not the best place. I’m going to go ahead and disagree with both of those statements. I think Leipzig is its own city. It is nothing like Berlin, and that’s what I loved about it. If you ask the locals, they will say the same. Leipzig is Leipzig. It is in the middle of a revival, with millennials flooding the streets. It’s an incredible place to be. From huge city centers to small neighborhood vibes, Leipzig really does have something for everyone. I’m going to tell you why I think this by showing some of my favorite places and things in Leipzig.
While my first place isn’t really a place at all, Stadtfest is a celebration that everyone should experience. Most cities have a Stadtfest, which is basically a birthday celebration for that city, but Leipzig’s is amazing (not biased, I promise). This year we arrived during the 1000th anniversary of Leipzig. Augustplatz and Marktplatz were lined with food and drink vendors, and there were street performers as far as the eye could see. There were two huge stages set up where bands and dancers performed all day, every day. If you get a chance: Go. To. Stadtfest.
Speaking of, Augustusplatz and Marktplatz, also known as the city Zentrum, were the two places we went the most, other than the Hauptbahnhof. They are called ‘Treffpunkt” which basically means ‘meeting point’. On Augustusplatz there is the University of Leipzig, the Gewandhaus, and the Oper, not to mention shops and resturants. Marktplatz has a bit of an older vibe. On it stands the Altes Rathaus, and on Fridays it has a farmers market, with fresh fruits, veggies, and meats. Also on Marktplatz is Rizzi, which needs an entire paragraph dedicated to it.
Rizzi is the name of the Italian restaurant that Sean took our group to on the first day. It is also our group’s favorite resturaunt. I don’t think I could count the amount of times that we ate there. Whenever we couldn’t decide where to go, Rizzi was the answer. It could be that it wasn’t very expensive, that the food was actually incredible (Get the gnocchi), or that the staff was so fun, Rizzi was a staple in my diet. It’s even open on Sundays!
Leipzig is an incredibly green city. For having a population of 500,000 people, you would not think that it has as much green space as it does. One of the best places is the Clara-Zetkin-Park. It is near the United States Consulate, and another part of the University of Leipzig. This park is incredibly expansive, and has a bridge that is popular to go eat on with wine and take-out food. My favorite part though, is something that Sean’s daughter showed us. On one of the trails, there is a tree that has a bunch of tiny toys around it. The base of the tree is decorated, and the local legend is that a tiny creature lives in the tree, and children come and leave toys for the creature to play with. It’s one of those urban legends that is so personal to the city.
The Völkerschlachtdenkmal is a monument to the Battle of Leipzig of 1813. This is where Napoleon was defeated. The monument is the tallest in Europe, and if you are looking for an educational workout, this is your place. You can take the stairs all the way to the top, where you get an incredible view of Leipzig and its surroundings. The monument has a Mayan temple look, and the inside is filled with huge stone warriors. It was easily one of the coolest things I did in Leipzig, and I wish I went back more than once.
My favorite place, though, was the Leipzig Zoo. We passed it every day on the way to interDaf, and we always heard that the Leipzig Zoo was the place to go. I kept putting it off; I’d been to a million zoos before, what was so special about this one? Let me tell you: everything. It is huge, and had at least one of every animal you can think of. They may not have a big one, or many, but they have them. For example, want to see a hippo? They have a PYGMY hippo. Also, the zoo has one of the best lion breeding programs in the world. Who would’ve thought Germany had that?
These are only a few of the places that make Leipzig so unique, and so special to me. No amount of writing can describe the feeling that this place gave me. It truly is one of a kind. Leipzig is Leipzig.