Tour the sights of Leipzig, and you can't fail to sense the city's unique
atmosphere. Having long played an important role in Europe's commercial
and intellectual history, the city's glorious past and its current renaissance
are equally palpable. And as the 21st century gathers pace, Leipzig is known
as one of the most dynamic cities in Europe.
The lively heart of the city comprises its historical centre, encircled by a green promenade indicating where the fortifications used to be.
In c. 1165, the small settlement originally here was granted town and market privileges banning fairs from being held within a radius of a 'mile' (actually about 15km/9 miles) which would have detracted from trade there. This was a crucial element within the town's growth into a centre of commerce. The development of the Leipzig Fair went hand in hand with the city's growing prosperity, which was in sadly interrupted on a number of occasions by war.
The arts and learning benefited from the generosity of a populace ever receptive to new ideas. Leipzig's museums, for example, were originally founded on the basis of private collections and donations. The University of Leipzig, one of Germany's oldest centres of learning, soon attracted students from all over Europe. Goethe, the father of German literature, studied in Leipzig, deferentially describing the city as a “Little Paris”.
In the 20th century, Leipzig developed into a city of European stature with a formative influence on commerce, technology, science and the arts.
And its political importance was underlined in autumn 1989 when mass demonstrations ushered in the Peaceful Revolution, which in turn paved the way for German reunification in 1990.