Leipzig History

Around 900 AD, a Slavic settlement was founded at the confluence of the Elster and Parthe rivers, while the first mention of the name Leipzig can be traced back to 1015. In 1165, “Lipz” at the junction of the Via Regia (King’s Street) and the Via Imperii (Empire’s Street) received its town charter and market privilege by the margrave of Meißen, Otto der Reiche. In the following years, Leipzig evolved into a hub for trading and grew into a prosperous marketplace.

Leipzig University (“Alma Mater lipsiensis”) was founded in 1409 and is thus the second oldest university in Germany. Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Erich Kästner or Friedrich Nietzsche rank among her most famous students. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who studied in Leipzig between 1765 and 1768, respectfully called Leipzig “Little Paris”. Today, about 30,000 university students and those of other institutions of higher learning enrich city life in Leipzig.

Leipzig has always been at the forefront when it comes to adopting innovations. The first daily newspaper in the world was published in Leipzig in 1650; at the beginning of the 18th century, Leipzig was the first German town to have street lighting installed. The largest European train station was opened in Leipzig in 1915, but trains shuttled between Leipzig and Dresden as early as 1839. Leipzig developed thus into an important hub for traffic.

The decisive battle between the allied European powers and Napoleon’s armies took place near Leipzig in 1813. The largest European monument, the Battle of Nations Monument, was erected in 1913 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle.

Huge parts of the city centre were destroyed in the Second World War, but the people of Leipzig soon found the strength to rebuild their city. Under communist rule, Leipzig was a fortunate exception as thousands of national and international visitors came to attend the International Spring and Autumn Trade Fairs. In the autumn of 1989, the Prayers for Peace at St. Nicholas’s Church and demonstrations that followed contributed to the peaceful revolution and reunification of Germany.