Wilkommen! Discover the German city with Plymouth parallels

By WILLIAM TELFORD, Business Editor

 LEIPZIG is keen to build its reputation as a tourist centre highlighting its connection with famous composers and writers – and even its Cold War history as part of the Soviet Bloc.The city, in what was known as East Germany, is taking great economic strides.But alongside attracting firms of the magnitude of Porsche, BMW, DHL and Amazon, and generating its own high-tech start-ups, it has not forgotten that visitors are a valuable source of income.

Tour guides can be seen criss-crossing the city centre, showing crowds the impressive mix of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Deco, and even post-war Communist-era buildings.

But with 50 per cent of West Germans never having visited the East of the country, Leipzig is keen to put itself on the map geographically and economically.

“Tourism is becoming more and more important,” said Gisa Schonfeld, a tour guide for Leipzig Erlegen. “Internationally it’s not very well known, but every year more people come to Leipzig, and they are staying, taking their time to look around.

“We want tourism to increase,” she said. “Most are coming from the rest of Germany, but international is growing.”

The city next year celebrates its 1000th anniversary, having originally been established as a fort on a trade route intersection.

Among its current attractions is the largest railway terminus in Europe, the size of 13 football pitches, and linking to cities across the country.

“Leipzig has the feel of a true metropolis,” Miss Schonfeld said. “It is very well connected.”

The station also contains a three-storey shopping mall.

Leipzig also boasts a recently-opened billion-euro underground line, linking the city centre to a peripheral commuter station.

With 30 per cent of he city, and 60 per cent of the city centre, destroyed by World War Two Allied bombing, it means there is an appealing mix of architecture.

But the central Market Square survived and its regular markets attract crowds.

“In places like Dresden you have areas where tourists go and others where locals go,” Miss Schonfeld said. “But here we have a nice mix. And Leipzig has a lot of different aspects.”

The city’s classical music draw is centred on its Opera House, the St Nicholas Church Boys’ Choir, and its association with the composers Bach and Wagner, and the writer Goethe.

The Napoleonic War’s Monument to the Battle of the Nations, is one of the biggest monuments in Europe.

Among modern buildings, the 34-storey City-Hochhaus skyscraper attracts sightseers, and the city zoo pulls in more than two million visitors each year.

“Leipzig is a modern up-and-coming city,” said Miss Schonfeld. “There’s a good standard of life here and people are happy.”

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Pictures: City of Leipzig, tourist guide, and all male choir celebrating ‘Men’s Day’ that is held every year.

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