ST. THOMAS CHURCH
St. Thomas Church was built as an Augustinian monastery church in 1212. It has been altered in later centuries and in the 15th century was given the form of a Late-Gothic hall-church. From 1723 to 1750 Johann Sebastian Bach was the Choirmaster and the St. Thomas Boy's Choir still enjoys international fame. There are regular weekend concerts and you can climb the Baroque tower from April to November. Regarded as an important centre of classical music, Richard Wagner was baptised in the church while around 20 years earlier in 1789 Mozart played the organ here. St. Thomas Church is Bach's final resting place. There is a statue of Bach in the square outside.
Johann Sebastian Bach lived in Leipzig for 27 years and many of his most important compositions were created in the city. Though he lived 300 years ago, Johann Sebastian Bach is considered to be one of the greatest composers of all time.
The Bach Museum is in the Bosehaus – one of Leipzig's most important Renaissance buildings. It is also one of the oldest preserved buildings on the southern side of the St. Thomas Church Square. This is opposite where he lived (the house is long gone). You can find out more about his role as St. Thomas Choirmaster and see Baroque instruments. And in the Treasure Room there are original handwritten musical manuscripts and works of art. Note, admission is free on the first Tuesday of the month.
ST NICHOLAS CHURCH
Leipzig was the first large city in the GDR to have peaceful anti-government protests that led to the downfall of the Berlin Wall. St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche) was the venue for weekly 'peace prayers' from 1982 and they are still held on Mondays at 5 pm. The prayers were followed by candlelit demonstrations and by October 1989 70,000 citizens took to the streets. Armed security forces had been given orders to shoot but the size of the crowd and their non-violence convinced them not to fire. This led to similar demonstrations in other East German cities and the Berlin wall fell on 10 November 1989 bringing an end three decades of division and the reunification of Germany.
Built in the 12th century, the 1,400-seat church has Romanesque and Gothic roots but since 1797 it has had a stunning neoclassical interior with palm-like pillars and cream-coloured pews.
Johann Sebastian Bach was the Musical Director at St. Nicholas from 1723 to 1750 and some of his major works were premiered here as well as at St. Thomas Church. The church's organ is known for being one of the finest in Europe.
Zeitgeschichtliches Forum is a large museum about Germany's contemporary history with a focus on East Germany from 1949 to reunification. Free to visit, the museum is open Tuesday to Sunday. The permanent exhibition documents all aspects of life in the GDR under the repressive SED (Socialist Unity Party) regime. The story starts with when Germany was split in two following the Second World War, features the building of the Berlin Wall and reunification in 1989, and continues until the present day. Over 3,000 exhibits cover personal accounts, excerpts from speeches, propaganda posters, art, photographs, medals and more. As this is in Leipzig, where the Monday Demonstrations started, there is plenty explaining the resistance and civil courage leading up to demos and the fall of the Berlin Wall.