The district of Mitte covers the historic centre of the city, as well as surrounding neighbourhoods. It is the city’s smallest district, but with the highest population density and more history per square kilometre than anywhere else in Leipzig. This is a richly traditional area, with beautiful architecture, classic cultural pursuits, and plenty of stories.
Zentrum is the historic old-town of Leipzig, a bustling expanse of classic shopping arcades, traditional restaurants and beer halls, hotels and museums. The vast open town square has regular markets, particularly during Christmas, while the modernist Museum of Fine Arts is another notable sight.
Leipzig has a long and distinguished musical heritage, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the city centre. The Gewandhaus is home to one of the world’s most famous orchestras, which has been directed by such luminaries as Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. St. Thomas Church is where Richard Wagner learned to play the piano, and is the resting place of Johann Sebastian Bach, who directed the famous boys’ choir. This musical influence even extends to the naming of some of the local neighbourhoods; the Bachviertel and Musikviertel are two of the most upmarket and sophisticated residential areas in Leipzig.
Leipzig University is one of the world’s oldest universities, dating all the way back to 1409, and boasts such diverse and famous alumni as Goethe, Nietzsche, Tycho Brahe and Angela Merkel. Faculty buildings are spread throughout the city, but the city centre has the oldest, and most picturesque.
Mitte is not just about architecture and classical music, however. In the northwest of the district is the Red Bull Arena, home to the RB Leipzig football team. The team plays in Germany’s top division, and hosts regular games at the stadium. The arena is also the stage for various other sports teams, as well as major international concerts.
Considering its size and central location, Mitte has a surprising number of parks, rivers, and general open, green spaces. The largest of these is the Leipziger Auwald, a huge floodplain forest, one of the largest in Central Europe. Despite its central location, it has retained a distinctly natural character and has a large network of footpaths, cycle paths and riding paths.
At the south-eastern tip of the Auwald is Leipzig Zoo. The zoo is internationally famous for its conservation projects, as well as for Gondwanaland, a vast indoor tropical rainforest.
Southwest of the city centre lie two of Leipzig’s prettiest and most popular parks: Clara Zetkin Park and Johanna Park. These two parks merge seamlessly into each other and, together with the Palmengarten in Lindenau, form an extensive park landscape.
In the southeast of the district is the long-established botanical garden, maintained by Leipzig University, with a large and varied collection of plants & greenhouses. It is the oldest botanical garden in Germany and among the oldest in the world, and is open to visitors daily for free.
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