Leipzig (Fr. Leipsic), the fifth city of Germany, is situated in a large and fertile plain in the kingdom of Saxony, 80 miles by rail WNW. of Dresden, and 101 SSW. of Berlin, within 6 1/2 miles of the Prussian border, and 3 miles above the junction of the three small streams, Elster, Pleisse, and Parthe. The inner or ancient town, the centre of the business activity, with narrow and crooked streets and quaint houses, is separated by a broad, tree-shaded promenade (laid out since 1784 on the site of the old walls) from the much more extensive modern suburbs, bounded in their turn by a girdle of busy manufacturing villages.' Pop. (1800) 32,146; (1860) 85,394; (1880) 149,081; and in 1905 about 475,000, after the extension of the boundary so as to include the villages. Many handsome edifices have been erected, and great civic improvements effected in the last quarter of the 19th century. The Thomaskirche and the Nicolaikirche date respectively from 1496 and 1525; the quaint old Rathhaus, or town-hall, from 1556. The old castle, the Pleis-senburg, used as barracks and magazine, and till lately partly also as an art-school, succeeded in 1549-51 an older fortress dating from 1213. Amongst the modern buildings are the Municipal Theatre (1868), one of the largest and handsomest in Germany; the Museum (1856-86); the new Exchange (1886); the Observatory (1861); the Booksellers' Exchange (1888), with an interesting museum; St Peter's Church (1885), a fine specimen of modern German Gothic ; and the Law-courts. The New Gewandhaus has since 1884 superseded the old Gewandhaus (so called because originally a drapers' hall), in which, since 1781, some of the best concerts in Europe were given. Of numerous squares and open spaces, affording ample room for the stalls and booths of the retail dealers at the fairs, the largest is the Augustus-Platz; the quaintest the Marketplace, in which a large war monument for 1870-71 was unveiled in 1888. The Rosenthal and the Johanna-Park are fine parks on the outskirts ; while farther out are oak and beech woods.
Leipzig has been the seat of the supreme court of the German empire since 1879, the new building for which dates from 1888. The university, founded in 1408 by a secession from Prague, has nearly 220 professors and lecturers, and over 3500 students. The Augusteum, or main building, in the old town, was rebuilding in 1894 ; it is supplemented by a great system of spacious and admirably equipped medical and physical laboratories and other ' institutes' in other parts of the town, including a magnificent new library-building with 550,000 vols. and 5000 MSS. The City Library has 120,000 vols. and 1500 MSS. Among the numerous other educational establishments are two gymnasia, a justly famous School of Commerce, a conservatory of music, reckoned amongst the first in Europe, etc. The hospital system of Leipzig has largely benefited the medical faculty of the university. As a seat of trade Leipzig is inferior only to Hamburg and Berlin in Germany. The chief articles of commerce are furs and skins, cloth, leather, and books. The famous Leipzig fairs are held at Easter, Michaelmas, and the New Year, and last from three to five weeks. Their origin is traced as far back as 1180 ; their importance dates from about 1500; but since 1865 that importance has gradually dwindled, though they are still attended by about 30,000 strangers, including Jews, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Persians, and even Chinese. Transactions to the extent of over £10,000,000 sterling are said to take place at the Easter fair. Nearly 500 houses are engaged in the book-trade, and there are also about eighty printing establishments; while type-founding has here its chief centre in Germany. The wool-market, in June, is still much frequented. Among the chief manufactures (carried on largely in the ' villages') are pianofortes, paper, chemicals, oils, scientific instruments, spirits, beer, tobacco, and some textiles, with iron-founding.
Leipzig (formerly Lipzk, from the Slavic Lipa, a 'lime-tree'), originally a Wendish settlement, is first mentioned as a town in 1015. It suffered greatly in the Thirty Years' War, in the Seven Years' War, and amidst the terrible struggles of the years 1812 and 1813, when it was alternately in possession of the French and of the allies, whose signal victory over Napoleon was fought during October 16-18, 1813. In 1866 it was occupied for some months by Prussian troops. Leipzig was the birthplace of Leibnitz and of Wagner, and a residence of Bach and Mendelssohn. One of the scenes in Goethe's Faust is placed in Auerbach's Keller here.