Sprawling across a sandy plain on the right bank of the Saale River, 37km northwest of Leipzig, HALLE got its name from the pre-Germanic word for salt, the presence of which encouraged settlement and extraction during the Bronze Age. The city continues to be an important industrial and commercial centre, and forms a large part of a regional concentration of industrial plants and cities called the Chemiedreieck (Chemical Triangle). Even if its industrial heyday is long gone and its population – some 232,000 – is waning by some two thousand each year, Halle remains the state’s largest city in its most urbanized region.

The Altstadt centres on the Marktplatz, and its sights include the city’s main church and the Händel-Haus, the mansion where the town’s most famous son, composer George Frideric Handel, was born. The Moritzburg to the northwest now houses an important art collection, while a few attractions outside the Altstadt together provide a picture of Halle’s historical context, including the Technisches Halloren- und Salinenmuseum, which explores the town’s origins and its salt industry, and the Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte (Museum of Prehistory).

Halle’s Martin Luther University, founded in 1694 and long a principal seat of Protestant learning, particularly flourished during the German Enlightenment when Christian Wolff and Christian Thomasius both resided here. Today, the university continues to add a youthful energy to this important regional transport hub. The best time to visit is during the Händel Festival (haendelfestspiele.halle.de) in the second week of June.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Get on board: the 5 best European river cruises

Get on board: the 5 best European river cruises

Among a certain segment of travellers, cruising is sometimes maligned: the dismal buffet and watered-down cocktails. Those kitschy lounge acts. The contrived sh…

29 Mar 2016 • AnneLise Sorensen insert_drive_file Article
10 of the best European city breaks

10 of the best European city breaks

In this article sponsored by Scenic Australia, Emma Gibbs picks 10 of the best city breaks across Europe. Europe is so crammed full of fascinating, vibrant c…

01 Dec 2015 • Emma Gibbs insert_drive_file Article
Discover Berlin's biggest bathtub: the Baltic Sea

Discover Berlin's biggest bathtub: the Baltic Sea

Carved balconies like lace, swaggering villas in spacious gardens and an absurdly long pier. Who would have expected “Herring Village” to be so glitzy? I…

08 Oct 2015 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month