Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Monument of the Battle of the Nations), Leipzig
The "Völkerschlachtdenkmal" is a memorial from the late 19th century dedicated to the memory of those fallen in the battle of Leipzig of 1813 (Napoleonic Wars), termed "Völkerschlacht" (battle of the nations) because French, Russian, German, Prussian, Austrian and Swedish troops were among the combattants. The battle decided that Napoleon had to retreat to France, the beginning of his downfall.
In the late 19th century, patriotic-nationalistic memorials to the anti-french resistance sprung up everywhere in Germany, the "Völkerschlacht" memorial being the most impressive. The inner hall is decorated with the likeness of four giants, dwarfing any visitor.
I guess everything about the monument is already said. We went there early in the morning on Sunday (is 9am to early?) to notice that it only opens at 10 am. So we couldn't climb up to the top just to the middle. But from there we already had a good view over the city.
As you can see I put this monument at the bottom of the 'Things to Do' list ... I personally don't like it, but others think differently and I suggest you go and see it when in Leipzig to decide yourself.
The monument reminds of the Battle of Nations in Leipzig's surroundings during the Napoleonic War 14-19 Oct 1813 which sealed Napoleon's (and the French's) defeat. Napoleon and his allies - Saxons, Polish and Rheinbund states - that had their headquarters in Leipzig at that time, all in all 191,000 soldiers, faced the troops of the united army of Russians, Prussians, Austrians and other European countries under General Karl von Schwarzenberg with about 360,000 soldiers. Napoleon's defeat was total and he fled to France. About 120,000 soldiers lost their lives.
Originally the building was planned as a monument for the victims of this battle (as demanded by writer Ernst Moritz Arndt e.g.) but with growing nationalism and militarism after 1900 that later resulted in WWI the message changed: glorification of military capability of Germany.
So the monstrous building was erected from 1900 on. It was dedicated 18 Oct 1813 in the presence of German Emperor Wilhelm II, the Saxon King Friedrich August II., many other princes of German states and ambassadors from all over Europe.
The building is definitely impressive, but IMO ugly and the mindset it stands for is obnoxious. If you decide to visit then have a look at the small museum at the right side that covers the history of the Napoleonic Wars and enjoy the views from the top.
Apr - Oct daily 10-18
Nov - Mar daily 10-16
Admission fee is 6 Euro, the elevator costs another 1 Euro (and you still have to climb too many stairs ...)
The monument was erected in 1913 for the centenary of the Battle of the Nations near Leipzig.
In 1813 the allied forces fought Napoleon in the so-called Völkerschlacht (Peoples’ Battle) near Leipzig and achieved a victory that lead to Napoleon’s defeat and banning to Elba. Those times when the Holy Roman Empire had fallen apart and large parts were occupied by the French saw the first awakening of a German nationalism.
For the centenary of the battle a monument was erected on the outskirts of Leipzig. In 1913, on the eve of World War I, this was seen as a national event. Emperor Wilhelm II and the crowned heads of several states that had participated in the battle showed up for the inauguration.
The interior is dedicated to the memorial of the dead. 16 stone warriors keep watch in the hall. If visitors kept silence, this would be a solemn and almost scary place of remembrance.
If there ever is a “World’s Top 10 Ugliest Monuments” collection, my candidate will be this one. One simply has to see it because of its unbelievable monstrosity. Once is enough, though.
Another reason to visit is the view from the top. Climb 500 steps to reach the top platform. Hint: The stairways in the upper part are extremely narrow and passing is almost impossible. Please observe the traffic lights that regulate traffic up and down.
More photos in my travelogue pages.
The Monument to the Battle of the Nations was the highlight of my visit in Leipzig and probably the only sight you will need to take a tram because its at the south part of the city. The Völkerschlachtdenkmal (as it called in german) was built in 1913 (18th of October) on 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Nations that took place near this area between Austria, Prussia and Sweden against France (soldiers from Saxony supported Napoleon). Napoleon lost the battle but more than 100,000 soldiers died on the field. Like in many nations the monument erected here to honour and mourn the dead people although every time I see something like this I wonder why they don’t care about soldiers before sending them to war.
The monument is huge (and ugly) but the small artificial lake in front of it and the peaceful park that surrounds it make it more appealing (pic 1). First, you will notice some huge -looking serious- statues in Ruhmeshalle under lit light (pic 3). Then it’s worth going up the stairs and enjoy the view from several platforms. As AC/DC say “it’s a long way to the top” but on a sunny clear day you will have a great long distance panoramic view of the city. The top platform is at 90m high and the last stairs will catch your breath because they are narrow and circle stairs. I was laughing with the traffic lights that ensure people wont stuck! There are many signs on the platforms that shows what you’re looking at. In pic 4 you can see a sign that shows the Krematorium and in pic 5 the Krematorium itself.
The monument is opened daily 10.00-18.00 (till 16.00 in winter). The entrance fee is 5 euro (3 with Leipzig Card) but you have to buy them at the small building on the left of the monument before going up. When you return back down you can visit the small museum and learn some small details about it (eg.how the Nazis used it for propaganda)
The Völkerschlachtdenkmal commemorates the Battle of the Nations which took place between the Prussians, Austrians and Swedes on one side and France on the other back in 1813. The violent and cruel battle left 100000 soldiers dead and Napoleon defeated. Exactly 100 years later, in 1913, the massive Völkerschlachtdenkmal was built. Its main purpose was to mourn the dead, but during this age of extreme nationalism, the idea was quickly forgotten and the monument regarded with different eyes. Naturally, the Nazis (mis)used it for showing how powerful the German people is. Similarly, the socialist GDR government propagated its world view using the monument. Interesting facts about this can be found in the so-called Ruhmeshalle, the huge inside room.
Back to the monument itself: It's not really beautiful, rather massive and impressive. Looking like a giant black rock, it is visible from nearly everywhere around Leipzig because of the flat terrain of this region. Coming nearer, however, you'll be able to discover some rather beautiful aspects. First of all, the arrangement around the Völkerschlachtdenkmal - an artificial lake is situated in front of it, a park surrounds it. Everything is really symmetrical, and this looks quite appealing (at least to me!). Second, the Ruhmeshalle - it's very impressive: a hardly lit room with giant stone figures symbolizing the "German virtues" bravery, power of the people, the preparedness for sacrifice and strength of belief. The atmosphere in here is gloomy with so little light coming in and so much seriousness radiating from the figures. You can easily think of how this could be misused for nationalist purposes. Third, the view from the platform on top of the monument. In a height of 91m, visitors can enjoy great vistas of Leipzig and its suburbs.
The Völkerschlachtdenkmal is open daily between 10am and 6pm (summer) respectively 4pm (winter). Entrance tickets have to be purchased at the left side of it - don't climb the steep stairs before or you'll have to go back down.
Talking about the building requires talking about history once again. What is it with that Leipzig page... In 1813 there was a tough battle going on, with Prussia, Austria and Sweden on the one side, and Napoleon's army (support by soldiers from Saxony!) on the other side. Known today as the Battle of the Nations, crucial event in European history. After days of fighting, more than 100,000 soldiers were dead and Napoleon was defeated.
100 years later, a monument to honour this battle and to mourn the deaths was built on the spot from where Napoleon commanded his army. All over Europe, the bourgeoisie erected similar monuments to honour their nations. The German emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II attended the inauguration of the monument together with many other noblemen and politicians.
The monument itself is ugly, to discussion about that. It is impressiv, huge, massive and somewhat intimidating. There are several floors with huge stone statues of warriors, all shown with a lot of symbolism. You can go up to two different platforms, from where you have great views to Leipzig and surrounding areas. To get to the top platform at 90 m above the ground, you have to climb up extremely narrow winding stairs - they even put up some traffic lights to ensure one way traffic only and avoid people getting stuck on the steps!
As I said it's not a beautiful building, but definitely a must see attraction in Leipzig. Entrance fee was about 2 Euro. They also have a little museum going into historical detail - but I didn't see it.
PS: Special Tip if you want to know who the story of the French continued check my Fulda page and look for the tip about Fürsteneck
This monument is done for the memory of "the battle of nations". This fight was the largest battle ever (half a million men) in Europe before the first world war. It was between Napoleon's army and four nations (Austrians, Prussians, Russians and Swedes). Napoleon was finally defeated, and one of the biggest single battles was in Leipzig.
The monument offers great views over the city, but may be a bit overvalued compared to the high entrance fee. You don't loose much if you miss this one..
You are a fan of historical events? Come to Leipzig! In 1813 the Battle of the Nations took place here. Over 500,000 soldiers fought here and more than 120,000 lost their life. In 1913 the 'Voelkerschlachtdenkmal' (monument of the battle of the Nations) was erected in remeberance on this battle. It's Germany's largest monument and has an vantage point in 91 Meter (300 ft).
Monument of the Battle of the Nations
In 1813 during the Napoleonic Wars one of the biggest batles if not the biggest of that century took place near Leipzig with more than 500000 combatants taking part. To commemorate the date after a century, in 1913, a monument was sculptured. You can also use vantage point offering fine panoramic views.