Leipzig Architectural Jewels, Leipzig

Leipzig Architectural Jewels (Self Guided), Leipzig

Anyone who has ever wanted to delve into Leipzig's history could hardly imagine doing so without exploring the local array of architectural jewels. Indeed, Leipzig boasts one of Germany's most beautiful collections of Renaissance buildings.

Our first point of interest lies in downtown Leipzig at the intersection of Katherine and Bruhl Streets. Here, the stunning Baroque-style Romanus House preserves its historical charm with intricate details such as ornate ledges, bay windows, garlands, and a statue of Hermes.

Further down Katherine Street, the Free House (Fregehaus) serves as a reminder of Leipzig's prosperous merchant history, showcasing a symmetrical main façade adorned with a bay window embellished with fruit garlands, alongside dormer windows on its steeply inclined roof, and other baroque elements.

Walking on brings us to the Old Scale House (Alte Waage), an elegant Renaissance building that once served as a weigh station for goods entering the city.

From there, we reach Market Square and the Old Town Hall – the iconic symbols of Leipzig's civic life, with their impressive facades and bustling atmosphere.

Nearby, the Old Stock Exchange (Alte Handelsbörse) exudes grandeur and opulence, reflecting Leipzig's role as a major trading hub in Europe.

Meanwhile, Riquet House, Speck's Yard (Specks Hof), and Saint Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche) each contribute to Leipzig's architectural tapestry with their unique styles and historical significance.

Finally, the Kroch-Hochhaus, a more modern high-rise building, stands in stark contrast to Leipzig's historic architecture, yet it represents the city's ongoing evolution and embrace of contemporary design.

Visiting Leipzig's architectural wonders offers a glimpse into its past, present, and even future. Each of these buildings tells a story of the city's enduring legacy and cultural importance. To experience the charm and beauty of Leipzig's architecture firsthand, take this self-guided walk. Leipzig awaits, ready to captivate and inspire!
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Leipzig Architectural Jewels Map

Guide Name: Leipzig Architectural Jewels
Guide Location: Germany » Leipzig (See other walking tours in Leipzig)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
Author: karenl
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Romanus House
  • Fregehaus (Free House)
  • Alte Waage (Old Scale House)
  • Market Square and Old Town Hall
  • Alte Handelsbörse (Old Stock Exchange)
  • Riquet House
  • Specks Hof (Speck's Yard)
  • Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church)
  • Kroch-Hochhaus (Kroch High-Rise)
Romanus House

1) Romanus House

Romanus House is a historical edifice in downtown Leipzig on the corner of Katherine and Bruhl Streets. This beautiful Baroque-style house, reminiscent of old Dresden architecture, today serves as a commercial building. The house covers four city plots of land and is mounted on a plinth-like ground floor.

There are three main stories above the ground floor and another short story under the mansard roof. The North facade has 13 window axes, overlooking Bruhl Street. The East facade has six axes facing Katherine Street. The corner of the house is beveled at a 45-degree angle with bay windows.

The facades have ornate ledges. The tall gable on the north side has an oval window. The East facade has a small gable with two kidney-shaped windows. Garlands adorn the sills, entrances, and ceilings. A statue of Hermes by sculptor Balthasar Permoser poses in the ground floor corner niche.

Romanus House got its name after the former Mayor of Leipzig. Franz Conrad Romanus was the mayor in 1701. He commissioned the building to be designed by the council mason, Johann Gregor Fuchs.

The Romanus House changed hands many times, finally being owned by contractor Jurgen Schneider in the 1990s.
Fregehaus (Free House)

2) Fregehaus (Free House)

The Fregehaus is a baroque merchant's house in the center of Leipzig.

The merchant Gottfried Otto bought the property at today's Katharinenstraße 11 in 1705 and had the Renaissance house there (probably built in 1535) rebuilt in the Baroque style by the Leipzig council mason Johann Gregor Fuchs in the years 1706 to 1707.

The four-wing building is laid out around a rectangular courtyard. The symmetrical main façade is characterized by a bay window decorated with garlands of fruit. There are 16 dormer windows in four rows on the steep roof with a 62-degree incline. The preserved parts of the previous building include the cross vault of the courtyard entrance and portals on the ground floor.

The Fregehaus owes its current name to the banker Christian Gottlob Frege II (1747–1816), who acquired it in 1782. It remained the seat of the private bank until 1945 and a commercial enterprise (with state participation) of the Frege family until 1976. From 1978 the Fregehaus was the seat of the VEB Leipzig Monument Preservation, which renovated the house from 1980 to 1986.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Alte Waage (Old Scale House)

3) Alte Waage (Old Scale House)

On the north side of Leipzig's Market Square on the corner of Katherine Street is Old Scale House (Alte Waage). The Council Scales (Rats Waage) was the core of the Leipzig Trade Fair in the 16th century. All goods had to be weighed here. A duty was collected to be shared by the city and the king.

The Scale House was constructed in 1555, as directed by the Mayor of Leipzig, Hieronymus Lotter. It was built in the Renaissance style by master builder Paul Speck. The front had a four-tiered voluted gable and a sundial. Below this was a stair tower. There were two upper floors, above the basement ground floor and attic floors. The basement held the council bar and a drinking room.

The Old Scale House became a commercial building. From 1590, the house was the seat of the Leipzig Council Post with the messenger room. The post office was housed here from 1661 to 1712. Weighings were transferred to a new location in 1820. In 1861, during renovations, the stair tower was removed. The building was destroyed in the air raid of December 1943 and was undeveloped for a few years.

In 1964 the Scale House was built anew as designed by Leipzig architect Wolfgang Muller. The entire structure, including the Katherine Street side facade, is new. Only the south side gable was fashioned in the Renaissance style.
Market Square and Old Town Hall

4) Market Square and Old Town Hall (must see)

The Market Square of Leipzig is the central place of Leigzip's city center. There are arcades and courtyards well worth a visit, and the Old Town Hall housing the City History Museum is the central attraction. St Nicholas and St Thomas Churches are easily reached from here.

Throughout the year, the square is the venue of a diversity of Markets and events. There is the Easter Market, the Wine Festival, Leipzig Market Music, and the fabulous Christmas Market. Since the 13th century, Leipzig and its Markets have been the most vital centers of trade in Germany.

In 1341, Frederick II, Son of Frederick the Peaceful and Margrave of Meissen, offered the cloth merchants of Leipzig a Romanesque building of their own at the south end of the Leipzig Market Square. This building, called the Cloth Hall (Tuchhaus), shared extensions and spaces with the City Council.

The building complex grew. Two structures were added in the 15th century. A council chamber was completed in 1467. A stair tower emerged in 1476. In 1498, after all the growth and extensions, it was decided to rebuild the Town Hall.

The Old Town Hall was rebuilt in its current Saxon Renaissance style in 1557. It housed the Upper Court and the Court of Aldermen, the city magistrate, council archives, and prison cells. In 1905, it was decided to use the Old Town Hall as the Leipzig City History Museum.

The two-story building is over 300 feet long. It has a steep roof with 13 connecting row dormers and staggered gables. A stone arcade faces the square. An octagonal stair tower is next to the main entrance. The entrance is flanked by two ionic columns topped with the gaff heads of the master builders. Stone box oriels are on the gable ends.

In the large ceremonial hall is a portrait of Johann Sebastian Bach by German painter Elias Gottlob Haussmann. Haussmann also signed Bach's employment certificate as a cantor at St. Thomas' Church. There is also a scale model of the city in 1832 made by Leipzig upholsterer and furniture maker Johann Christoph Merzdorf.
Alte Handelsbörse (Old Stock Exchange)

5) Alte Handelsbörse (Old Stock Exchange)

The Alte Handelsbörse or Alte Börse (Old exchange) in Leipzig, Saxony, Germany, is the city's oldest assembly building of merchants, and also the oldest Baroque building. Built as the Börse in 1678, it is now used as an event venue and is known in English as the Old Stock Exchange.

Leipzig has always been an important trading center, being at the intersection of two historical trade routes, and trade fairs have been held here for nearly a millennium. The initiative to build a Börse, as a neutral exchange place to conduct business and seal deals, came in 1667 from 30 major merchants after complaints by foreign merchants. The city council took the decisive decision to build the Börse on 6 May 1678.

The building was probably designed by Johann Georg Starcke, a master builder at the court of John George II, Elector of Saxony, in Dresden. Construction began at the Naschmarkt adjacent to the Old Town Hall on 30 May 1678. The Börse was used already from 1679, but the artwork in the interior was completed only in 1687. The ground floor had rooms rented to merchants, the upper floor offered a hall, Börsensaal, for auctions, balls and other events.

During the Second World War, the Börse burnt down completely in 1943, resulting in the irretrievable loss of the valuable stucco ceiling and ceiling paintings. The building was secured with an emergency roof. Restoration of the exterior began in 1955, completed in 1962. Since then, the Alte Börse has been used for cultural events such as readings, concerts and exhibitions. Between 1992 and 1995, the facade and the interior were extensively renovated, with a focus on the original coloring of the facades and the window glazing in the style of the 17th century.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Riquet House

6) Riquet House

Also known as the “House with the Elephants,” Riquet House’s architecture is a mix of Art Nouveau and oriental styles. Built at the turn of the 20th century, it housed an oriental trading company which imported goods from China and Japan. Now a restaurant, wine cellars and a cafe, it serves homemade goodies with an historical ambiance. The entrance attracts attention with its beautiful roof and two elephant heads.
Specks Hof (Speck's Yard)

7) Specks Hof (Speck's Yard)

Specks Hof is a commercial building with the oldest preserved shopping arcade in Leipzig . The complex near the Nikolaikirche is an example of Leipzig's trade fair and trading houses that were built at the beginning of the 20th century.

Speck's yard is six stories high. On the first three upper floors, the principle of the support and beam system can be clearly recognized by the emphasis on the continuous pilasters . The upper two floors are slightly set back behind a balustrade or a narrow strip of roof. In each of the three adjoining streets there is a basket arch-like passage entrance, each of which is emphasized by a rounded risalit just like the two corners of the building . On the one with trachyttuff and artificial stoneOn the clad front there is plenty of architectural decoration both in stone and on the base above the ground floor and above the third floor in copper. The figures are borrowed from the Greek world of gods and bear no relation to the purpose of the building.

The southern part of the front on Nikolaistrasse, which was built later, differs in design from the rest of the building. It is kept simpler and, instead of the two upper floors, has a three-story tower-like structure with a pyramid roof that extends beyond the ridge line of the outbuildings.

The ground floor of the building is traversed by barrel-vaulted passageways, some of which still have an embossed copper ceiling. A corridor runs from Reichsstraße to Nikolaistraße with a branch into Schuhmachergäßchen; a branch leads to the Hansahaus. The corridors are interrupted by three glass-covered atriums, which are labeled A, B and C starting in the west and have floor areas of between 40 and 50 m². Your walls are artistically designed.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church)

8) Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church) (must see)

One of the most important churches of Leipzig is named for St Nicholas, the patron saint of travelers and merchants. The church started in 1185 as a Romanesque-style edifice with two look-alike towers. It was enlarged and redone in the 16th century in the Gothic "hall church" style, which features a nave and aisles of approximately equal height, united under a single immense roof. The Baroque-style central tower was added in 1730.

The interior was remodeled in 1797, in a Neoclassical style, by architect Johann Carl Friedrich Dauthe. Inside, the apse is semicircular with a barrel vault roof. The narrow nave is supported by graceful Egyptian-style columns, with palm-shaped capitals. The interior colors are in two pastel shades of pale green and dusty rose.

The church hosted four of the five premier performances of Johann Sebastian Bach's Passion of St. John in 1724, 1728, 1732, and 1749. Several of his cantatas and oratorios were performed by the St. Thomas Choir of Leipzig (Thomanerchor), a boy's choir with a tradition of more than 800 years in music and city history.

From 1989 to 1991, people would gather at St. Nicholas every Monday evening. The meetings were not formal. They led to ad hoc protests against the Communist East German Government. Cabaret artist Bernd-Lutz Lange declared of the revolution: "The head was the St. Nicholas Church and the body the center of the city."

The authorities were thrown off balance, as they were expecting violence. But that never occurred, violance were not in the playbook. A monumental column stands outside the church today. Close to the Neoclassical column, colored panels in the pavement light up after dark, telling the story of the Monday night marchers.
Kroch-Hochhaus (Kroch High-Rise)

9) Kroch-Hochhaus (Kroch High-Rise)

The Kroch high-rise in Leipzig was built in 1927/1928 for the private bank Kroch jr. KGaA and was the city's first skyscraper. The reinforced concrete building, designed as a clock tower and 43 m high, is located on the west side of Augustusplatz.

The Krochhaus, which opened on August 1, 1928, was built in place of the dilapidated front building of the Theaterpassage from 1872, which was owned by Leipzig University. In 1926, the architect German Bestelmeyer was able to take one of the two second places in the competition organized by Bankhaus Kroch together with the Leipzig City Council. Out of the 69 proposals received, it was not possible to agree on a first place, so that the decision was finally made to go for Bestelmeyer’s design “Orion”, a limestone-clad, twelve-storey office tower based on the clock tower (Torre dell’orologio) in Venice.

The height of the new "tower house", whose ridge height was based on the gable of the Pauline Church, was very controversial at the time. Therefore, only a provisional building permit was granted for 10 floors up to 35.50 m. However, since a height of 43 m was planned, which Bestelmeyer had reduced to 39.50 m as a compromise, the upper four floors were initially only allowed to be set up as dummies in order to be able to test the urban planning effect of the Kroch high-rise before the final completion. This building template not only strengthened Bestelmeyer in his view that 12 floors with 43.20 m was the ideal height, but also the Leipzig Council, so that the final approval was finally granted on December 16, 1927.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Leipzig, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Leipzig

Create Your Own Walk in Leipzig

Creating your own self-guided walk in Leipzig is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Leipzig Introduction Walking Tour

Leipzig Introduction Walking Tour

The name "Leipzig" may be derived from the Slavic word "Lipsk", meaning "linden trees place." The Nazi government renamed the city "Reichsmessestadt Leipzig" ("Reich Fair Trade City Leipzig"). In 1989, with the fall of communism, the city was "Hero City" - in recognition of the role that the Monday demonstrations there played in the fall...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
A Walk on the Leipzig Music Trail

A Walk on the Leipzig Music Trail

The spatial density of historic locations associated with music in Leipzig is truly mind-boggling. But then again, this is hardly surprising, given the eclectic score of musicians who had left their mark on the city in various years.

Indeed, it was in Leipzig that Johann Sebastian Bach served as an organist and choirmaster at Thomaskirche as well as a cantor at Nikolaikirche; composer Robert...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles