Saxony's largest city - Leipzig - is also among Germany's most culturally and historically significant destinations. Its long and illustrious past has helped to shape not only the modern city - but also the national identity of Germany itself.
Situated at the meeting point of three major rivers - the White Elster, the Parthe, and the Pleisse - Leipzig is a city characterised by its water, and is bordered by natural wetlands. To the south lies the new district of Neuseenland - where open-cast mines are being reclaimed and re-imagined as stunning, broad lakes, such as the Cospudener See.
Its location provides the city with it unique character; first-time visitors to Leipzig take delight in discovering a city where they are able to navigate as much by canal as by road. But Leipzig is also loved for its abundance of parks and areas of natural beauty. The city contains 2,500 hectares of woodland within the Riverside Forest nature reserve alone. Indeed: approximately one third of the entire area of Leipzig is given over to green spaces and parkland. It is little wonder that the city in Saxony has been ranked as one of the three Germany cities with the highest quality for life in recent years.
With its geographically advantageous location - as well as its position in the very heart of mainland Europe - Leipzig became an established and valuable centre for both trade and innovation throughout the Middle Ages and the rule of the Holy Roman Emperors. It stood at the intersection of two of the busiest highways in medieval Europe - the Via Regia and Via Imperii. Today, Leipzig retains its commercial heritage with the staging of the Leipzig Trade Fair. The annual event is the oldest trade fair in the world.
In the intervening centuries, Leipzig would play an equally instrumental role in shaping German contributions to Western art and culture. The city was both the home of Classical composers Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn, as well as the place where writer and scholar Johann Wolfgang Goethe chose to study.
In the second half of the twentieth century, Leipzig again became the focal point of national identity. Nikolaikirche ("St. Nicholas's Church") in the city is often cited as the starting point of the peaceful revolution of 1989, which would ultimately see the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, and the reunification of Germany.
Today, Leipzig retains its artistic and cultural heritage, and the city's half a million inhabitants take pride in the fact that Leipzig is seen as one of the creative centres of modern Germany.
Visitors will discover a city whose appeal goes beyond its unique situation, its vast areas of parkland, and its numerous waterways. Leipzig is a destination where tourists come to experience the rich culture of Germany: from its seasonal events, to its museums; and from the stunning architecture of its luxuries hotels to the many landmarks found throughout the city.
Bach and Mendelssohn are both commemorated with popular attraction, including the Bach archives, the Bach Museum, and Mendelssohn House. Visitors eager to uncover the city's living culture will find concerts, ballet and drama hosted by the Leipzig Opera.
Auerbachs Keller (Auerbach's Cellar) is one of Germany's oldest restaurants - and a place where Goethe both dined, and wrote about: it is featured in his play Faust. Zum Arabischen Coffe Baum, on the other hand, is Europe's oldest coffee house. Both establishments act as museums to the city's past, while also providing food and refreshments as modern, functioning restaurants.