Leipzig's name is derived from the Slavic word Lipsk, which means "settlement where the linden trees (US; lime trees in UK). First documented in 1015 and endowed with city and market privileges in 1165, Leipzig has fundamentally shaped the history of Saxony and of Germany. Leipzig has always been known as a place of commerce. The Leipzig Trade Fair, which began in the Middle Ages, is the oldest remaining trade fair in the world. It became an event of international importance.
The foundation of the University of Leipzig in 1409 initiated the city's development into a centre of German law and the publishing industry, and towards being a location of the Reichsgericht (High Court), and the German National Library (founded in 1912). The philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was born in Leipzig in 1646, and attended the University of Leipzig from 1661–1666.
The importance of the Trade Fair and the University in the creation of a vibrant urban life and city politics from the Reformation through the 19th century cannot be overestimated.
St Thomas' Church (Thomaskirche): Most famous as the place where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as a cantor and home to the renowned Thomaner choir
Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Battle of the Nations Monument): the largest war monument in Europe, built to commemorate the victorious battle against Napoleonic troops
Gewandhaus: home to the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra, it is the third building of that name
Altes Rathaus: the old city hall was built in 1556 and houses a museum of the city's history
Neues Rathaus: the new city hall was built upon the remains of the Pleißenburg, a castle that was the site of the 1519 debate between Johann Eck and Martin Luther in 1519
City-Hochhaus Leipzig: built in 1972, it was once part of the university and is the city's tallest building
Auerbach's Keller: a young Goethe ate and drank here while studying in Leipzig; it is the venue of a scene from his Faust
Städtisches Kaufhaus (municipal department store): the world's first sample fair building and today home to offices, retail stores, restaurants and interim classrooms for the University of Leipzig (its name is misleading, as it is privately owned)
Bundesverwaltungsgericht: Germany's federal administrative court was the site of the Reichsgericht, the highest state court between 1888 and 1945
Among Leipzig's noteworthy institutions are the opera house and the Leipzig Zoo, the latter of which houses the world's largest facilities for primates. The Church of St. Nicholas (Nikolaikirche) was the starting point of peaceful Monday demonstrations for the reunification of Germany. Leipzig's international trade fair in the north of the city is home to the world's largest levitated glass hall. Leipzig is also known for its passageways through houses and buildings.
Leipzig University, founded 1409, is one of Europe's oldest universities. Nobel Prize laureate Werner Heisenberg worked here as a physics professor (from 1927 to 1942), as did Nobel Prize laureates Gustav Ludwig Hertz (physics), Wilhelm Ostwald (chemistry) and Theodor Mommsen (Nobel Prize in literature). Other former staff of faculty include mineralogist Georg Agricola, writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, philosopher Ernst Bloch, eccentric founder of psychophysics Gustav Theodor Fechner, and psychologist Wilhelm Wundt. Among the university's many noteworthy students were writers Johann Wolfgang Goethe and Erich Kästner, philosophers Gottfried Leibniz and Friedrich Nietzsche, political activist Karl Liebknecht, and composer Richard Wagner. Germany's chancellor since 2006, Angela Merkel, studied physics at Leipzig University. The university has about 30,000 students.
The "Academy of Visual Arts" (Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst) was established 1764. Its 530 students (as of 2006) are enrolled in courses in painting and graphics, book design/graphic design, photography and media art. The school also houses an Institute for Theory.
The "Leipzig University of Applied Sciences" (Hochschule für Technik, Wirtschaft und Kultur, HTWK) is with about 6200 students (as of 2007) the second biggest institution of higher education in Leipzig. It was founded in 1992, merging several older schools. As a university of applied sciences (German: Fachhochschule) it is slightly below the status of a university, with more emphasis on the practical part of the education. The HTWK offers many engineering courses, as well as courses of computer sciences, mathematics, business administration, library sciences, museum studies, and social work. It is mainly located in the south of the city.
The private Handelshochschule Leipzig (HHL), or Leipzig Graduate School of Management, is the oldest business school in Germany.
Among the research institutes located in Leipzig three belong to the Max Planck Society (for Mathematics in the Sciences, Human Cognitive and Brain Science and Evolutionary Anthropology) and two are Fraunhofer Society institutes. Others are the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, part of the Helmholtz Association, and the Leibniz-Institute for Tropospheric Research.