Next on the list was the St. Thomas Church – place of “faith, spirit and music”. I hid my horns under my hood and walked in.
While the church itself, built in 1212, is very impressive, there’s more than a little history behind this building. Martin Luther preached here in 1539, bringing the Reformation to Leipzig…
Bach was Cantor here from 1723 to 1750, Mozart played the organ here in 1789, Mendelssohn conducted the first performance of Bach’s “St Matthew Passion” after the latter’s death, and Richard Wagner was baptised here in 1813. Not bad, eh? It’s also the final resting place of Bach, whose grave was moved here in 1950.
In addition, there’s a prayer cross which I thought was a really nice idea. It started out as a prayer board in 1989, when unrest in the GDR was at its peak, and reflected people’s thoughts, hopes and fears, and was replaced by this prayer cross in 2001.
I didn’t leave a prayer as I’m a heathen now, but I did drop a few euro in the donation box on the way out. Money is money, after all. I then spent another €0.70 on visiting the ladies’ toilet. I used a lot of soap afterwards to feel like I was getting my money’s worth.
After walking around a little more, I decided that it was time for more refreshments, and found a cosy little place that fit the bill.
I had planned on getting a nice cup of tea, but when I saw that they had Glühwein, that plan went out the window. I flicked to the cakes section. While the first item on the menu caught my eye, it didn’t sound terribly appealing, so instead I opted for the Apfelstrudel.
It turned out that they didn’t actually have Glühwein either so the menu lied to me. Instead I chose an alcoholic hot chocolate with Jaegermeister in it. While I’m not normally a fan of Jaeger, this was really quite delicious – and very warming.
The couple in front of me looked a little startled when my flash went off. I think maybe they thought I was trying to take a photo of their baby. Seriously. Why would anyone want to take a photo of a baby when they have lovely, photogenic cake on their table?
Feeling ready to face the world, and the rapidly dropping temperatures again, I continued walking around for another while, snapping a few pictures of eye-catching buildings as I went – not babies – until my face started to feel numb and I made my way back to the history museum (or “Das Stadtgeschichtliche Museum”, as it’s known in German).
This was really the highlight of the day. I hadn’t known that much about Leipzig before visiting, but after spending some time in this museum, you get a fantastic picture of the city, from its origins in the middle ages right up to the present day. The only downside was a “phantom farter”, who seemed to be one room ahead of me all the time, dropping little bombs for my olfactory pleasure.
When you see what the city looked like after the war, it really is remarkable to see it now.
You can also sit and listen to Bach’s music, while looking at the only known original portrait of him. Previously, whenever I thought of J.S. Bach, images of Sister Roisin banging away on the school piano invaded my brain. Now I feel that I will have much more positive associations .
With the museum closing soon and my bus due in around an hour and a half, it was time to get a drink for the road. Having tried and failed to find a proper German Kneipe (bar), I came across an Irish pub, hidden away down a side street close to where the bus stop was. Disappointingly, there were only around four other people in the bar but I still managed to while away an hour or so, reading my book and mixing grape and grain.
A few days later, I met Dietmar for a few drinks.
Me: I was in Leipzig on Sunday.
Dietmar: Did you see the Monument to Freedom and Unity?
Me: Um, no…
Dietmar: Then you have not been in Leipzig.
Next time, before I go anywhere, I’ll ask a German what to see and do instead of asking the internet. Stupid internet.
http://meinfernbus.de/ – bus tickets from Berlin to Leipzig from €8