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10 Facts about the City of Leipzig
Leipzig is a city in Germany. Located in the state (Land) of Saxony, Leipzig lies 95 miles (150 km) southwest of Berlin. The city has benefited from its central position in the Saxon lowlands to become, after Berlin, one of the most important road and rail junctions in Germany as well as one of the nation's major industrial centers. The city has a population of 520,838 (2012).
1. Leipzig's old town has the nearly rectangular street plan typical of the towns that grew up during Germany's medieval colonization of its eastern lands. On the central market square is the restored Old City Hall of 1558. Only a few Renaissance and baroque houses have survived both the transformation of the old town into a central business district and the bombing in World War II.
2. The restored Church of St. Thomas, founded about 1200, contains the grave of J. S. Bach, choirmaster there from 1723 until his death in 1750.
3. The city's principal public buildings, including the rebuilt Opera House, the New City Hall of 1899-1905, and the triangular 30-story tower of the University of Leipzig (known as Karl Marx University from 1953 to 1990), stand on the ring of boulevards and squares that mark the line of the former city walls. Beyond this line to the west lies a belt of parks and gardens that follows the Elster River and its tributary the Pleisse and separates the central city from its industrial western suburbs.
4. The Strasse des 18 Oktober, a street that commemorates the Battle of Leipzig of 1813, leads southward from the city center through residential areas to the German Library, the fairgrounds, and the Battle of Leipzig monument.
5. Leipzig is a traditional center of the German printing and publishing industries and the fur trade, and it is one of the great manufacturing centers of Germany. Products include heavy machine tools and specialized equipment for a wide range of industries. Other manufactures are optical and precision instruments, electrical equipment, textiles, and musical instruments. The city's commercial life declined during the division of Germany, but international trade fairs remained active.
6. Leipzig is a major educational center. In addition to the university, which was founded in 1409, it has a college of physical culture, the German Library, and numerous institutes and schools. Both the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the St. Thomas' Boys Choir have attained worldwide fame.
7. Leipzig existed as a fortified frontier settlement by about 1000, and it received a town charter about 1160. In 1497 and 1507 the German emperor conferred upon the city the right to hold fairs; these soon grew to international significance. The city became Protestant in 1539.
8. During the Thirty Years' War, Leipzig suffered several sieges, and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden won a major victory over the imperial forces at Breitenfeld, on the outskirts of the city, in 1631. In 1813 Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Leipzig, which was also fought just outside the city.
9. Leipzig holds a major place in the history of German socialism. Ferdinand Lassalle founded the Allgemeiner Deutscher Arbeiterverein (General German Workers' Association) there in 1863. The socialist leaders August Bebel and Wilhelm Liebknecht were active in the city, and Karl Liebknecht and Walter Ulbricht were born there. The city was part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) from 1949 to 1990.
10. Under the German Democratic Republic, Leipzig was the center of a densely populated district of 1,917 square miles (4,964 sq km). The land surrounding the city is a loess-covered plain, crossed by the Elbe, Mulde, and Elster rivers, and it bears rich crops of wheat, barley, and sugar beets. The region's lignite resources are used to produce briquettes, gas, chemicals, and power. Most of the towns around Leipzig have industrial-based economies.