Visit Leipzig, Germany, by Mouse
Leipzig, Germany (official web site) is 242 miles northeast of Frankfurt, and 118 miles southwest of Berlin. It is in the area formerly known as East Germany, which was considerabley less wealthy than West Germany. It has been a center of commerce since the middle ages, and has hosted a trade fair since then. And it is home to the venerable (founded 1409) University of Leipzig where the philosopher and mathemetician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz studied. The composer Richard Wagner was born here. And, more important in our view, Johann Sebastian Bach worked here as Director of Music in the Saint Thomas Lutheran Church for 27 years until he died. It was in this poorly paid employ that he composed many of his major works. Indeed, one of the reasons we came to Leipzig was to visit the church.
Like other German cities, Leipzig had been heavily damaged during WW II, and the Nazi's had destroyed many things in the city that had a relationship to Jews, like synogogues and a monument to the composer Mendlesohn. But other German cities seemed to be farther on the way back from these traumas. Leipzig shows the signs of its more or less depressing years as part of the German Democratic Republic.  As is mentioned in our letter we saw many buildings with boarded up windows, walls where the stucco surface had fallen off, and grafitti in many places.    However, there also were areas that were quite nice, very modern buildings and many ongoing construction projects.
The highlights for us were the St Nicholas Church and Bach's Saint Thomas. And even though we did not visit it, we would include Leipzig's oldest restaurant, Auerbach's Keller, frequented by the poet and composer Goethe, and mentioned in his opera, Faust. Entrancing statues depicting scenes from the opera are in the Madlerpassage just in front of the entrance. You can see photos of these on our photos page.
St. Nicholas Church's painted interior is simply a thing of great beauty, which you can see in our photos. Especially notice the pillars which represent lime trees, the ceiling, nave, apse and organ. It is a historic place as well, dating from 1165. In addition, in 1989 it was the scene of the so-called Monday Demonstrations, peaceful meetings every Monday night protesting against the authoritarian German Democratic Republic of East Germany. These protests spread throughout East Germany and even to Prague, involving thousands of people and leading eventually to German reunification.
By contrast, Bach's St Thomas Church is nowhere near as pretty.  Inside it is quite plain.  But when you see its organ in its loft, you cannot help feel the presence of the musical genius who played there.  And the church's plain interior helps you understand, if not condone, the paltry subsistence it provided Bach during his years there.
(Google Map)
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