Markranstädt is a small suburban town of 17 little villages that’s located only about 10 kilometers west of the big city chick, Leipzig.
The town has managed to survive not only countless wars, but the dreaded plague and numerous fires that reduced its population to less than 150 residents in the 17th century. Markranstädt is now a thriving community of more than 15 thousand residents that embraces its past, yet is completely modernized.
Because of its close proximity to Leipzig, it’s easily reached by plane (via the Leipzig/Halle Airport), train, and automobile. You won’t find many large hotel chains here in Markranstädt, just a few small friendly guesthouses and that’s the way it should be.
Napoleon knew that Markranstädt was special and stayed here in town at the guesthouse Zum Rosenkranz in 1807. It was the “Battle of the Nations” that took place here in 1813 that led to Napoleon’s downfall and ultimately his exile in Elba. A monument, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal, stands in Leipzig marking the end of Napoleon’s reign in Europe.
Napoleon wasn’t the only famous person to live and work here. Johann Sebastian Bach was a cantor at the nearby St. Thomas Church. The Parish Church Laurentius, built in 1518, hosts many music concerts through the summer.
And, no German town is complete without its own castle. The Altranstädter Schloss, once a 12th century monastery, now has spectacular art gallery exhibitions. It also makes a romantic background for many wedding ceremonies that are held here every year. The Botanical Gardens and the old windmill in Lindennaundorf are also romantic (and sweet smelling) places to visit.
There are many wonderful celebrations held throughout the year, so anytime is a great time to visit. The district of Großlehna hosts a music celebration, a potato celebration, a fire brigade fest, and a kinder (that would be kid’s) festival held in June. There’s also an Easter celebration in the Göhrenz District that’s fun for everyone.
It doesn’t matter that Markranstädt sits within the shadow of Leipzig, you’re walking in the footsteps of Napoleon and Johann Sebastian Bach. And, they knew a good thing when they saw it! ;-)