Nikolaikirche

Top choice in Leipzig

This church has Romanesque and Gothic roots, but since 1797 has sported a striking neoclassical interior with palm-like pillars and cream-coloured pews. While the design is certainly gorgeous, the church is most famous for playing a key role in the nonviolent movement that led to the downfall of the East German government. As early as 1982 it hosted ‘peace prayers’ every Monday at 5pm (still held today), which over time inspired and empowered local citizens to confront the injustices plaguing their country.

Starting in September 1989, the prayers were followed by candlelight demonstrations, which reached their peak on 9 October when 70,000 citizens took to the streets. The military, police and secret police stood ready to suppress the protests, as they had so violently done only two days earlier. But the order never came. The GDR leadership had capitulated. A singular palm-topped column outside the church commemorates this peaceful revolution.