… at least that’s what I keep hearing – from Barcelona to Berlin. Speaking of which, Leipzig is just an hour’s train ride away from Berlin. Having grown up near Leipzig and spending most of my student time there, I am obviously not impartial… However when visiting Berlin and Leipzig in May, I now totally understand why they say this. Berlin now feels pretty much saturated with tourists, new residents (too many Swabians 😉 ) and expats taking over the local neighbourhoods. I swear I never heard a Berlin accent near the city centre, which used to be so characteristic to me! Going out in popular Neukölln could have well been in Frankfurt if it hadn’t been for its basswood trees. And the city is getting expensive!
Leipzig however is finally getting its act together
Over the past 10 years the city has gone from having empty buildings that were difficult to rent out, to now selling very quickly. Most of the city centre has been developed and the last quiet corners are now being turned into pretty and soon-to-be vibrant spots to shop or enjoy a coffee. And all that at prices still reasonable compared to most other cities in Germany. Even the big hotels near central train station, which we looked at for years not understanding why they were letting them fall down, are being taken on and redeveloped (though we are still waiting for the famous Astoria to come back to life).
With half a million people, Leipzig still feels pretty spacious and quiet. It may not have the most outstanding architecture, the wildest nightlife nor the funkiest shopping scene, but it rates pretty highly in each – with a fantastic quality of life and great offer in education and cultural events whilst at the same time being very close to nature.
It has a long history as a trade convention city and university town. The city has lots of well-preserved Wilhelminian style buildings on grand streets. Goethe (the German equivalent to Shakespeare) called it Little Paris for good reason. Being a student city, it offers a great variety in nightlife and cultural events with an unusually high number of cabarets.
Leipzig is also rich in historical background such as the Monday Demonstrations in 1989 in St. Nicholas church, which became the centre of peaceful revolt against communist rule; or the Battle of Leipzig, which lead to Napoleons’ first defeat in 1813.
It is one of the greenest cities I know, it’s got loads of parks, which allow you to walk across the city continuously under trees. During the last few years they made a huge effort to encourage local recreational areas with plenty of lakes nearby to sail, surf and canoe. One campaign that stood out to me was “Neuseenland” (translated: new lakes land, which plays on the German word “Neuseeland” for New Zealand, which is an extremely popular travel destination for Germans). It’s a developing project to turn old sand and coal quarries into a huge connected network of lakes.
Leipzig seems to have everything you’d wish for and with the current developments it will hopefully be able to offer more jobs again, thereby allowing a lot of people to move back who had to leave years ago in order to find work elsewhere. As far as I can see, people are starting to come back already, even families who escaped from the GDR between 1961 and 1989. I recently came across the video below with great aerial shots, however it’s in German only.
Sure there are still a few things to fix, such as better airline connections (internationally you mostly have to go via Berlin) and industry for more job opportunities, but it’s so NICE to see Leipzig getting back on track! Check it out and let us know what you think 😉