The reason I decided to make Leipzig my next stop was my cousin’s recommendation that I just had to see the Bach Museum over there.
Well, I woke up in Leipzig on a Monday morning and almost all museums were closed, including the Bach Museum. I keep forgetting this Museums-are-closed-on-Mondays every summer. It’s such an odd day to close something and I never remember it.
Also, it was raining. Not a good start if you want to see Leipzig in one day. Anyway, the Tourist Office gave me a list of museums that are open on Mondays. I picked out the Stasi Museum and Schumann House from the list and headed to the Stasi Museum first. I guess this museum is meant to be dismal and depressing. I mean, it is. In more ways than one. Anyway, they’ve kept the interior exactly as it was in 1989, for realism, but somehow, with today’s focus on having museums look new and fresh, it felt decidedly odd.
Having said that, it was interesting to learn about the huge surveillance apparatus managed by Stasi, and the control they exerted over the population. Information is power, and it is thought-provoking when thinking about how we voluntarily give out so much information about ourselves on social media. In our day, Stasi wouldn’t have needed their surveillance apparatus. They could just have used Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram to gather information, and then used their military might to act on it. Scary thought. Anyway, where did they get all the tapes they used to record telephone conversations? From foreign tapes they confiscated in the post!
On my way to Schumann House, the heavens opened and I was soaking wet within minutes. The museum assistant taking the entrance fee looked a bit apprehensive at my arrival and immediately asked me to put my brollie in what looked like a rubbish bin. I obliged.
The Schumann House was filled with Schumann’s pianos, furniture, letters, music scores etc., but there was no music playing in the background, as one would expect in the museum of a major composer. After having wandered through all the rooms and looked at all the exhibits, I asked the museum assistant if it would be possible to hear some music by Schumann. I couldn’t understand her reply in German, but she did put on one of Schumann’s piano concertos. Sitting in Schumann’s living room and listening to his music was the Leipzig highlight for me.
What else can you do in Leipzig on a Monday? Well, Leipzig is the city of arcades and courtyards. In fact, the Tourist Office has issued a special leaflet for the arcades and courtyards in the Old Town of Leipzig. There are thirty listed.
My favourite arcade was the Mädler-Passage, where Goethe used to hang out. The Mephisto Bar looked intriguing but I decided to move on.
The other obvious attraction in Leipzig is the St Thomas Church, where Johannes Sebastian Bach was the cantor 1723-1750. The church has got some beautiful stained-glass windows, and the lingering presence of JS Bach.
Between the train station and the Old Town is this huge colourful mural. You can’t miss it. Whether you decide to stop and inspect or admire it on arrival or departure doesn’t matter. But it is a good idea to do it when the sun is out and at the right angle. And maybe bring some wellies if it’s a rainy day and you want to take a wide-angle shot of the entire thing.