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Old City Hall, Leipzig, Germany

Old City Hall in Leipzig [photo: Krzysztof Golik, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]
Old City Hall in Leipzig [photo: Krzysztof Golik, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Location: Markt 1, 04109 Leipzig

The Old City Hall is one of Leipzig’s most famous landmarks. It has a colourful history, once being the seat of the feudal highest court of appeal and also a prison. The market square in front of the Old City Hall was used in centuries past as a place of execution, so condemned prisoners never had far to go to the scaffold. A copy of the judge’s seat used in those days and the likenesses of Leipzig judges can be seen alongside portraits of Saxon rulers in the banqueting hall in the Old City Hall.

However, the rooms in this building erected by Hieronymus Lotter were by no means reserved to the upper classes. For example, the town pipers often played for people to dance to from the music gallery dating back to 1557, and which is still preserved to this very day. Nowadays, too, the Old City Hall is frequently used as a venue for cultural highlights. It also provides a venerable backdrop for numerous events in the city centre.

Just 115 years after it was officially opened, the Old City Hall was somewhat the worse for the wear and so had to be rebuilt. The people of Leipzig were furious that the new building had to be so extensively refurbished so soon after its erection. Thus it was that Lotter’s name suffered the dishonour of spawning the German word ”Lotterwirtschaft”, meaning a mess or shambles.

Since 1909, the Old City Hall has harboured the Museum of City History. One of the largest museums of cultural history in Germany, it contains 500,000 items in 72 special collections. One particular attraction is a historical model of Leipzig lovingly crafted by Johann Christoph Merzdorf in 1823.

Attentive observers will instantly notice one special architectural feature about the building: its tower is located not at the centre of the building, but shifted to the left. This was typical of the Renaissance style in Germany in the 16th century, which avoided regularity and preferred asymmetry. The tower has a height of 150 metres, making it the tallest town hall tower in the country.

The Old City Hall was destroyed in 1943, but was immediately restored after the end of World War II.

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