Leipzig, Germany, photo of beer

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The St. Thomas Boys Choir’s sweet voices resonated like angels in St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany. I listened in awe.

I couldn’t understand the words in German, but the boys’ pure, wholesome tones captivated me. Organ music soared through the church, with its ornate ceilings, white columns, and stained-glass windows.

Leipzig, Germany, St. Thomas Church, where Bach is buried.
St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany

From my seat, I looked up into the balcony at the boys’ childlike faces as they performed the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Beginning in 1723 until his death, Bach served as cantor at St Thomas Church. Sitting in the place where Bach served as music director felt poignant and moving.

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St. Thomas Church has been home to the St. Thomas Boys Choir for 800 years. Church leaders formed the choir to provide music for church services, which they do to this day.

Leipzig, Germany, Bust of Bach
Bust of Johann Sebastian Bach, at the Bach Museum, Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Bach Festival, Leipzig Germany 

Leipzig even holds a Bach Festival every June, when the city goes into full party mode, classical music style.

Musicians perform Bach’s masterpieces with a modern flair and the community commemorates with concerts, events, and pageantry.

Leipzig, Germany, Street scene near the Bach Museum
Street scene near the Bach Museum, Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Bach Museum, Leipzig Germany

My first morning exploring Leipzig, I walked down a charming street to the Bach Museum passing outdoor cafés and women walking arm in arm.

Bells from St. Thomas Church tolled the hour; I caught the aroma of fresh roses as I passed a vendor selling flowers.

Leipzig, Germany, sheet music at Bach Museum
Sheet music at Bach Museum, Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Bach’s Original Works

The museum houses many of Bach’s original works in a temperature-controlled environment in the Bach Archive. There, I looked at sheet music, a bust of Bach, a replica of the home where he grew up, and a chart of Bach’s Family Tree, titled Die Familie Bach.

Leipzig, Germany photo of organ at the Bach Museum
Organ at the Bach Museum, Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Bach’s Coffee Cantata

In the museum, I listened to Bach’s music on a headset for an hour. Hearing the music reminded me of when I took piano lessons as a youngster. I could still remember the Bach melody I performed at a recital.

On an audio tour, I learned that Bach spent most of his working life in Leipzig. I also learned that he was so prolific the young composer wrote a cantata each week, including a cantata about—of all things—coffee.

Visitors can also follow the Leipzig Music Trail, a 5 km route through town that connects the most important authentic sites. I downloaded the app and followed the path around the city. This took me to the home of Felix Mendelssohn.

Leipzig, Germany, Mendelssohn House
Visitors can tour the Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Mendelssohn House, Leipzig, Germany

The Mendelssohn House is open to the public and shows how the composer lived, including his actual piano. Visitors can also “conduct” an orchestra

I took my place at the music stand, baton in hand, and had the choice to enter “orchestra” or “choir.” Through the magic of technology, I could increase the tempo, the sound of the oboes or clarinets, or the string section.

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Lights went up and down and music filled the room. There was a crescendo here or there, all to the sounds of Mendelssohn. My travel companions and I each took a turn at conducting. It was one of the most interactive museums I have ever experienced.

Leipzig, Germany night street scene with cyclists
Evening street scene in Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Leipzig, Germany – Historic, Vibrant, Youthful

Travelers may think of Munich, Frankfurt, or Bonn when planning a trip to Germany, but I wanted to tour secondary cities like Dresden, Leipzig, and Chemnitz. 

I loved each of the cities for their own charm and beauty: Dresden felt classy and old-world, as refined as cultured pearls and a Gucci bag. Chemnitz is known for edgy tech innovations and art. The city has even earned the designation as the European Capital of Culture in 2025.

Leipzig, a University town, brimmed with history, but felt energetic and trendy. 

Leipzig, Germany, image of Rathskeller House and bartender
Rathskeller House, Leipzig, Germany, Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

Bach, Then Beer

At the lively Rathskeller Restaurant, in the heart of Leipzig, patrons gathered at tables with flights of beer and plates of brats; servers hoisted trays filled with pilsner, hefeweizen, and lagers.

The Rathskeller oozed good times, as people laughed, ate, and toasted one another at tables filled with bowls of mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and bread.

Chandeliers hung from tall ceilings amidst low lighting, music, and the aroma of Wiener schnitzel.

Rathskeller means gathering place, although the translation is council and cellar.

Perfect Day Exploring Leipzig

I first heard the word, Rathskeller, as a freshman at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas. We gathered at the Rathskeller in the Student Union to discuss politics, listen to musicians, and connect. In Leipzig, I felt like I was in the motherland.

I had spent an ideal day exploring Leipzig and listening to Bach. Then, I perused the list of beers at the Rathskeller, with names like Gose, Helles, Weizen, and my personal favorite, Dunkles.

It was enough to make a Bach and beer lover swoon.

Leipzig Germany, Entrance to Rathskeller
Entrance to Rathskeller, Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Sherry Spitsnaugle

If You Go to Leipzig, Germany

Admission to St. Thomas Church, Leipzig, Germany, is free; however, there is a small fee if you visit when the Boys Choir performs. It’s best to check with the information desk at St. Thomas Church to inquire about tickets.

There is a fee to tour the Bach Museum. You can also rent headphones for an audio tour, which is available in many languages. For more information about Leipzig and the Saxony region, visit Saxony Tourism.

The state of Saxony, located in eastern Germany, is the country’s number one culture destination. In addition, Saxony is one of the leading German federal states in commitment to accessible travel in Germany.

The Tourism Board of Saxony has created an excellent site, Accessible Holidays In Saxony, with accessibility information for people with reduced mobility, as well as offers for travelers with sensory disabilities, or other impairments.

Sherry Spitsnaugle
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