Visiting Leipzig has been on my bucket list since I found out that Bach spent around half of his life there as a Kapellmeister for the church (somewhat like a music director). On February last year, I randomly applied to participate in the Leipzig Book Fair (Leipziger Buchmesse) choir in March. Turns out that also entitled me with a free ticket to the Book Fair and the Manga Comic-Con. The songs were 4 Lithuanian songs (the 2017 Guest Country) and two other Balkan songs, which were quite exciting because the comitee sent us a recording on how to pronounce the words in the songs.
My Book Fair ticket was also embedded with local transportation ticket for the whole day. The fair officially opened at 10 but before 10 am people were already queuing before the door. Leipzig Book Fair is the 2nd biggest book fair in German after the Frankfurt Book Fair.
The book fair is mainly divided to 5 section and there was 1 section specially for Children’s books, which was super cool. I would like to spend a whole day there reading, if only my german were better back then. It’s not merely a book fair , but more like a huge cultural event. One can enjoy all kinds of entertainment, from book signing, live music performances, games and activities for kids, and there was also a room provided by the MDR, where kids can try out different musical instruments. After leaving the Book Fair, I still got some time to attend Sunday Service in the famous Thomaskirche.
The next day, I visited the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument to the Battle of the Nations) on a sunny day and having to climb some stairs to get to the top of the building. This monument was originally designed to commemorate 100 years anniversary of Napoleon’s defeat in the 1813 Battle of Leipzig (which was also known as the Battle of the Nations because it involves Napoleon’s army aided with Italy + Poland + Germans from the Rhine against Russia + Prussia + Sweden + Austria) . The building was mainly a huge stone structure with a coppula on top of it. Somehow it reminds me of a greek / roman temple, because they have music played inside the hall with huge statues (maybe I watch too many movies). There is a statue of archangel Michael at the entrance and on the building next to it, there is a museum about the Battle of Leipzig.
I visited the Thomaskirche again afterwards. Johann Sebastian Bach was buried here, in the altar. In a small room inside a church there was an additional exhibition about Bach on the last years of his life on the theme of death. The wall was written with the text from his BWV 60 cantata complete with references to the Bible passage from which it originates. It was like reading a scientific paper, only this time the paper is the cantata and the citation is the Bible.
Then, I visited Universität Leipzig which is also located just around the corner, on Augustusplatz. The concert hall Gewandhaus, Opera House, and the university all reside in this corner of Leipzig inner city. Tips for taking a break after a walking trip, just go to a university and you can sit a while and uses the toilet, also refill your water bottle 👌. The university used to have a church (Paulinerkirche) that was bombed at the time of German Democratic Republic. But now the church has been rebuilt and by the time of my visit, was still on the finishing step.
Although most museums are closed on Monday, I found an interesting route which is the Notenspur Leipzig (Music Trail of Leipzig). It is a route around the city center that consist of historical buildings/places associated with classical music history, such as churches where Bach used to work, the house of Felix Mendelssohn, birthplace of Clara Schumann, previous resident of Edvard Grieg, and many more as depicted in the picture below. The points are also equipped with information board and some have interactive features. After that, I went to Nicolaikirche to watch a free concert from the choir of University of Union, USA. Unfortunately it is forbidden to take a photograph inside the church.