Whether it’s business or pleasure that brings people to the city, everyone enjoys a good look around the shops, and where better to shop than in Leipzig? Leipzig has a long tradition as a centre of trade: located at the intersection of the famous trade routes “via regia” and “via imperii”, Leipzig soon grew into the “marketplace of Europe”. Today’s visitors can once again experience Leipzig in all its former glory.
If they feel so inclined, visitors can start their shopping spree the moment they step off the train: Leipzig Central Station, Europe’s biggest railway terminus, was extensively refurbished after German reunification. Between 1995 and 1997, 142 shops were created on three floors below the main concourse, offering everything from fashion, cosmetics and jewellery to consumer electronics, home accessories and fine foods. The PROMENADEN mall and its two inexpensive multi-storey car parks are open until 10 pm. And best of all, most of the shops are also open on Sundays.
From the Central Station it’s an easy walk to the nicely compact city centre - just a few yards and visitors will find themselves on Nikolaistraße, one of Leipzig’s many shopping streets. Famous department stores like Breuninger, Karstadt, Galeria Kaufhof, Peek & Cloppenburg rub shoulders in Leipzig with popular names in fashion, such as H&M, Zara, Mango, Marc O’Polo and Levi’s, and exclusive designer labels, including Aigner, Lacoste, Lloyd, and Wolford. Impressive trading houses and exhibition buildings, passageways and arcades still give Leipzig’s city centre its historic character. Many features have been extensively restored over recent years to reflect the wealth and influence of trade through the ages, with many historic details sensitively retained. A self-contained network of around 30 arcades, 20 of them originals, can be found within the inner city area, which spans approx. 1 km², and is unique in Germany. And there’s one more reason for the popularity of the arcades: they are covered, so no amount of rain will dampen visitors’ shopping spirits!
The best-known and most lavish arcade is the Mädler Passage, with its elegant glass skylights and Auerbachs Keller, a cellar restaurant steeped in tradition, once a favourite haunt of Goethe. The arcade was built between 1912 and 1914 by the wealthy merchant Anton Mädler, and was inspired by the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. The 140 metre long shopping arcade contains exclusive fashion boutiques and fine restaurants, not to mention other small shops, including confectioners and stationers.
Specks Hof is connected to Hansa Haus, and is the oldest original shopping arcade in Leipzig. Since its restoration during the 1990s, its three atria have boasted imaginative murals, paintings and ceramic medallions exploring the theme of the trade fair. Today as in the past, smart leather goods and imaginatively crafted jewellery are displayed for sale in Specks Hof. A stroll around the shops also reveals fine wines, exclusive chocolates, pretty accessories, tea and every kind of printed publication for sale in amongst various boutiques. Shoppers can relax or fortify themselves in a spacious café offering a fine selection of coffees and cakes - all in traditional Saxon style.
The ambitious "Höfe am Brühl" project was opened in September 2012. The new shopping centre was constructed on historic ground on Brühl Street: the exact site of Richard Wagner's birthplace and, later, the
affectionately nicknamed "Blechbüchse", or "Tin Can" - a department store with a very distinctive aluminium façade. Over 110 shops with a combined retail area of 27.500 m2 bring together retail, services, gastronomy, quality living, art and culture. As the name implies, the concept of the shopping mall has followed Leipzig’s long tradition of building passageways and arcades.
More information about the site is available in the flyer, "Leipzig's unique courtyards and passages", published by Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH. The flyer includes a map of the city centre with 35 arcades, courtyards and passageways, and brief descriptions of them.