Germany’s Grunge Capital: Why Leipzig is the new Berlin

Step aside Berlin – A new kid on the block is taking your crown of hipster cool.

Leipzig is fast becoming the new Berlin, offering a grunge, hipster scene paired with a nightlife that can rival Europe’s hipster capital.

Sitting just south of the capital, Leipzig is small, yet demands a vibe akin to Berlin and smaller towns and villages of Germany. The aesthetic feel of the city is a bit of a hodgepodge with its historical and modern day architecture intertwining, especially in the main square of the city — Augustusplatz — housing traditional German style buildings coupled with refurbished old precincts and the ever so modern.

Leipzig
My lovely friend Martin showed me around the joint.

Rewind 25 years ago, the future of Leipzig was in doubt. Days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, there were great concerns for the crumbling East German city. Buildings were abandoned, places left to deteriorate and no proper industries were feeding into the economy. Between the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and late 1990s, there was a significant decline in population with over 100,000 leaving the city. Despite its stunted popularity growth after decades of urban shrinkage, developers, entrepreneurs and creatives alike are now catching on to one of Europe’s most livable cities with its potential to become the next big thing luring all-comers by their droves.

Leipzig is entering a new phase and is undergoing a resurgence. People are catching onto its appeal of being a slower paced, intimate setting loaded with a new lease of culture, life and industry without the hefty price tag. The young creative scene is thriving with a combination of alternative cultures displayed throughout the city. With over 500,000 citizens occupying Leipzig today and despite the high unemployment rate, there is a buzz in the air over the future of the so-called ‘Hypezig’, as locals affectionately call it.

Leipzig

The ‘it’ district, Plagwitz, is decked with industrial chimneys and brick housing combined with rejuvenated, once derelict buildings. Various styles of colourful murals and street art are not the only artistic flair oozing out of the city with numerous art exhibitions being housed in dilapidated warehouses and factory buildings including Westwerk in the trendy district of Plagwitz. Covering over 10 acres, the former cotton mill, Baumwollspinnerei, is now the centrepiece of Leipzig’s art tourism appeal as it is home to over 120 artists’ studios and workshops.

Leipzig
Dancing on the rooftops of Leipzig.

You could be mistaken for being in Berlin with certain parts of Leipzig heavily resembling that of the streets of Berlin’s famed hipster and nightclub hotspots, Kruezburg and Friedrichshain. What is also starting to resemble Berlin is Leipzig’s hard-hitting techno clubbing scene which is slowly catching wind with the rest of Europe – if not the world.

After already frequenting the nightclub powerhouse that is the infamous and ‘ruthless to get in’ Berghain in Berlin, it was time to repeat the German nightclubbing experience with a trip to Institut Fuer Zukunft — a nightclub that can rival nightclub offerings of Berlin.

Previously housing wholesale markets and then an ice skating rink until 2010, it is now home to Leipzig’s newest and partly crowd-funded nightclub. As with many German clubs, this club is opened from Friday night right up until Monday. It is no wonder that Leipzig is the underground party capital of Germany with its’ neighbourhood, discreet clubbing offerings operating around the clock.

It is these types of nights in Leipzig that many of the creatives, the young and the hip choose to frolic in. The no thrills, cheap living, open attitude to let be in a city that embraces the alternative. You thought Berlin was the centrepiece of alternative in Europe? Wait until you explore Leipzig.

Destination soundtrack song:

Disclaimer: Originally published on Geckos Adventures.

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