If you find yourself in Leipzig, Germany on the first Sunday of the month and if you love urban surprises, you could be in for a magical day.
First, I should tell you on Sundays most stores aren’t open so the City Centre is like a ghost town in the morning so it is good to make sure you have something other than shopping planned.
After a relaxing breakfast in the Motel One Lounge (FYI. Motel One is not some tacky motel but a funky design hotel that has a lively breakfast lounge and fun eggs) we headed out for the day.
Our destination was the first Sunday of the month flea market at the old fairgrounds. We had read it is one of the biggest and best in Europe.
We caught the train at the Market station and just three stops later we got out in the middle of nowhere. The first thing we see is an abandoned building that looks like it might have been bombed out in WWII. As we turn to walk in the direction of the flea market there is a huge strange-looking building with two breast-like domes that looks a bit shady.
Yikes what have we got ourselves into.
We walk along a major road (as per Google maps instructions) and soon we see a sinister looking building; this time new, but with no signage just some words and dark reflective so you can’t see in.
We still hadn’t seen any sign of life, but we did notice some movement at the end of a large green space so we decided to walk in that direction.
Sure enough, we arrived at the flea market and that seems to be where everyone is hanging out this Sunday morning, as there were thousands of people and hundreds of stallholders.
I had read this was a curated flea market with professional collectors doing the selling, but it sure didn’t look like it to me.
Rather, it was full of what looked like garage sale stuff, which is just what these treasure hunters love.
However, I did questioned if we were in the right place as it didn’t look like a fairgrounds and the iconic mid century fairground sign was nowhere in sight.
What we didn’t realize was we were only seeing half of the market there was more on the other side of the building.
We had a great time digging for treasures for over 2 hours. B did manage to find a nice made in Germany white mid-century vase for her collection, but was frustrated she couldn't take home more due to suitcase limitations.
It was now about 11:30 so we decided to head back when we saw somebody come out of the strange building we had passed earlier with the black reflective glass. Turns out it is the German Museum of Books and Writing and the shape is suppose to resemble the spine of a book and inside were three very interesting exhibitions.
We both shook our heads, how is anyone to know this is a museum and that it is open? Obviously many don’t, as we were the only ones there for the entire 45 minutes of our visit.
One of the things we love about urban exploring are the surprises. We decided to checkout the Ukrainian/Russian looking church a block away before heading back.
The door was open but you could only get into the lobby as the church us under renovations.
We left, but I notice what looked like a community garden at the back. We had learned the day before that these are in fact summer cottage/garden communities in the middle of the city (tiny homes before tiny homes were trendy, urban farming before it was trendy also).
Walking a little further we came upon a sign with a beer logo and thought perhaps there is a restaurant close by. Sure enough in what looked like a clubhouse of a small rural golf course was a restaurant called Siegismund.
While the server spoke no English we managed with some charades. She flapped here arms like wings for chicken, snorted like a pig for pork….the other diners in the restaurant were laughing – but in a good way.
Then the cook who spoke some English came out and recommended the schnitzel - we quickly said yes. Soon we had a beer and glass of wine (best wine in Germany) and settled in to dine with the locals.
Stopping To Smell The Flowers
After a great lunch, we decided to stroll the gardens as the sun had come out and it was a lovely spring afternoon. There were are few people around, but those who were there were friendly. I was surprised that the magnolia trees were in bloom in late March. We soaked up the wonderful peacefulness.
It was magical.
Link: Kleingarten Wikipedia
Three In One?
As it was a lovely day we decided to keep walking through the nearby Friesdenpark over to the Grassi Museum, which was on our way back to Motel One and the City Centre. Grassi is in fact three museums – Applied Arts Museum, Musical Instruments Museum and Ethnography Museum. You could easily spend hours exploring its many galleries. We loved the Applied Arts Museum in particular.
It never ceases to amaze me how many cities around the world have amassed collections of indigenous artifacts from around the world.
It seemed totally out of context to see a Blackfoot buffalo hide or Mexican Day of Dead ceramic figure in Leipzig. On the other hand, to see the collection of historic musical instruments in a City that has centuries of music history seemed most appropriate.
If you go to the Grassi Museum, be sure to visit the abandoned cemetery at the back it was a wonderful urban surprise. It also has a quiet café if you want to have a late lunch or coffee and treat.
Give yourself at least two and probably three hours to tour the museum.
While there is lots to see and do in Leipzig’s City Centre, exploring beyond the centre has many rewards.
Obviously you can’t do the flea market every Sunday, but you could easily add in the Botanical Gardens in Friedenpark which is between the Kleingartenverein Siegismund and Grassi Museum for your magic Sunday.