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.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Germany features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A beginner's guide to the best German beers

A beginner's guide to the best German beers

Think Germany and you think beer. It’s a country whose beer culture is so ingrained and recognised that Oktoberfest (16 September–3 October 2017) is celeb…

14 Sep 2017 • Daniel Neilson insert_drive_file Article
How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

How Syrians are keeping their culture alive in Berlin

Syria has been shattered by conflict since March 2011; more than 5 million people have been forced to flee the country and rebuild their lives elsewhere. Jessi…

05 Sep 2017 • Jessica Bateman local_activity Special feature
Going underground in Hamburg: 6 ways to see the city's alternative side

Going underground in Hamburg: 6 ways to see the city's alternative side

Hamburg is perpetually on the brink of falling out with itself. On the one hand, it’s a city of convention and millionaires – Hamburg has the highest concen…

18 Jul 2017 • Neil McQuillian insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook