Halle Things to Do

  • 3. Teseo program booklet, Frankfurt Opera
    3. Teseo program booklet, Frankfurt...
    by Nemorino
  • 2. The Opera House from the park
    2. The Opera House from the park
    by Nemorino
  • View of the long courtyard from the rooftop
    View of the long courtyard from the...
    by Kathrin_E

Most Recent Things to Do in Halle

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    Glass armonicas

    by Nemorino Updated Dec 27, 2010

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    1. A glass armonica like Benjamin Franklin's
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    When we were children we used to make musical tones with drinking glasses, but rubbing a moist finger around the top of the glass. Different sized glasses made different tones. but we never seemed to have all the sizes we wanted.

    The drinking glasses in the second photo were made in different sizes, one for each note, for the specific purpose of making music.

    The first photo shows a glass armonica like the one invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1762.

    When Gaetano Donizetti first composed his opera Lucia di Lammermoor in 1836, he originally scored Lucia's mad scene for a glass armonica, hoping to give it a haunting unearthly quality. But he later rewrote it for flute because some of the orchestra musicians at the opera house in Naples went out on strike, including their only glass armonica player.

    Nearly all productions of Lucia di Lammermoor since then have used the flute version (and generations of flutists have regarded this scene as a high point of their careers), but the current production at the Frankfurt Opera uses the original glass armonica version, played by a man named Sascha Reckert, who makes his own glass instruments and performs them all over the world either alone or with his ensemble Sinfonia di verto.

    Photos:
    1. A glass armonica like Benjamin Franklin's
    2. Drinking glasses for making music

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    Ingenious musical instruments

    by Nemorino Updated Dec 27, 2010

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    1. Keyboard harp
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    Around the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century numerous ingenious musical instruments were invented, like the keyboard harp in the first photo. The rationale for this is that a keyboard is a lot easier to play than a harp, so this was intended to alleviate the shortage of harpists.

    Like most of the newly invented instruments of this period, the keyboard harp never really caught on. Today if you want to make a harp sound you have to learn to play one, or get an electronic instrument that will imitate any sound you want.

    The reed organs in the third photo were powered by compressed air.

    The machine in the second photo is a mechanical device that reproduces music stored on a large disk with numerous holes. This is the same principle of data storage that was used in player pianos and in the punch cards that were used to store data for mainframe computers until well into the 1970s.

    Most music museums have a machine like this, but the one in Halle is the only one I know of that really works. You just insert a one Euro piece (up from 5 Pfennigs a century ago) and turn the crank, and it plays an elaborate recording of the Slaves' Dance from Mozart's opera The Magic Flute.

    Photos:
    1. Keyboard harp
    2. Schrankpolyphon (still works)
    3. Druckluft-Harmonium (2x)
    4. Instruments in a symphony orchestra


    I've done some tips on other music museums in Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Stuttgart and Nürnberg. And there is a brilliant new one in Brussels, Belgium.

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    Händel House and Music Museum

    by Nemorino Updated Dec 27, 2010

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    1. Entrance to the H��ndel House
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    Händel's birth house and several adjacent buildings have been joined together and renovated to serve as the Händel House and Music Museum.

    In the nineteenth century there was some disagreement about which of these houses was actually the composer's birth house, but the consensus now is that it was the house on the corner, then known as "The House of the Yellow Stag".

    Upstairs there is even a room which is labeled as the room where he was probably born, though no one knows for sure.

    In any case, there are attractive and informative exhibits on Händel's ancestry, on his boyhood and education in Halle, on the year he spent as a young man as the organist at Halle Cathedral and on the rest of his life in Hamburg, Italy, Hannover and especially London, where he settled permanently in 1712 and lived for forty-seven years until his death in 1759, when he was buried in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

    Photos:
    1. Entrance to the Händel House
    2. Portrait of Georg Friedrich Händel
    3. In the museum
    4. Restored room with organ

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    Dom - Cathedral

    by Kathrin_E Updated Oct 7, 2010

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    Dom 2009
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    Halle's so-called cathedral is not the big church in market square with the four spires... The Dom is a much smaller and less impressive building without steeple, actually the former church of a Dominican abbey.

    Cardinal Albrecht, archbishop of Magdeburg, used the church for his huge collection of relics and art works after 1520. In times of the reformation it was redesigned in renaissance style and got its unique facades with the little arches on top. The interior is a gothic hall with three naves of equal height. Not much is preserved of the furniture and art works.

    Since 1692 the church has been used by the reformed (Calvinist) parish community. Young Georg Friedrich Händel, who grew up just round the corner, got his first job as organist here in 1702/03.

    In August 2009 I finally managed to see the newly restored interior, so I finally have up-to-date photos. The church is open to visitors only during the summer months.

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    Moritzburg

    by Kathrin_E Updated Oct 7, 2010

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    Moritzburg, palas
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    Moritzburg is the younger of Halle's two castles. When Halle lost its independence and had to surrender to its governor, the archbishop of Magdeburg, the latter had the castle built inside the city walls to control the citizens. Construction works started in 1484. The castle served both for military purposes and as residence of the archbishop during his visits to Halle.

    Nowadays the castle buildings contain the art gallery of Moritzburg Donation which shows art works from the middle ages to our times. After restoration works on the buildings, large parts of the museums have been reopened on Easter 2009; since late April 2009 the whole museum has been accessible again.

    Even if you don't plan to visit the art museum, the castle is worth seeing. The courtyard can be entered fro free.

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    Old Town: Brüderstraße

    by Kathrin_E Written Oct 6, 2010

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    Br��derstra��e, baroque house
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    As a contrast to the previous two you should get an idea what most of the town looked like before renovations started. Brüderstraße, the next street parallel to Rathausstraße, is a good, though sad example. The large baroque house, for example, could be as beautiful as the others I have shown before. However, a tree on the balcony is the only inhabitant and it is almost in ruins.

    Note the 1920s house corner Brüderstraße/Neunhäuser (photo 5). Interesting architecture and, unllike the others, in good shape.

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    Old Town: Rathausstraße and Jena'sches Stift

    by Kathrin_E Written Oct 6, 2010

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    Jena'sches Fr��uleinstift in Rathausstra��e
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    Rathausstraße is another street in the old town that deserves attention because of its well restored historical houses. It is a mix of baroque and 19th/early 20th century architecture.

    Most notable: the baroque house Rathausstraße 15, Jena'sches Fräuleinstift. This house belonged to the first curator of Halle University and high-ranking government official in Brandenburg and the Duchy of Magdeburg, Gottfried von Jena. In his will he created a foundation for unmarried noble ladies of calvinist faith, and from his death in 1703 until 1962 the house was inhabited by the foundation.
    Have a look at the roof of the building - don't those windows look like eyes?

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    Old Town: Große Märkerstraße

    by Kathrin_E Updated Oct 6, 2010

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    Gro��e M��rkerstra��e with Wolffhaus
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    Nobody would suspect much of an "old town" in Halle from afar. However, Halle's historical heritage survived the war remarkably well and during socialism it was neglected but not destroyed. As a result, Halle has one of the largest historical townscapes with medieval and early modern houses in the official lists of cultural heritage. Works to protect and preserve it are in progress. A lot of houses have already been beautifully restored, although there is still a lot to do.

    Große Märkerstraße is among the most remarkable streets of old Halle. In former centuries it was a centre of trade and commerce. Later on it became the favourite address of Halle's V.I.P.s, especially professors of the university. Plates on the facades name the inhabitants of the houses. Christian Wolff the philosopher was the most famous resident.

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    Halloren- und Salinenmuseum

    by Kathrin_E Updated May 7, 2009

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    Saline

    The museum in the buildings of the old saline is dedicated to the history of salt panning, once the city's most important economic activity. It documents the history of the salt works as well as the guild of the salt workers, named Halloren.

    Salt was the base of Halle's wealthy past and gave the city its name. All those places in the German-speaking countries with "Hall" in their name are locations with salt ressources: Hallstatt, Hallein, Schwäbisch Hall, Bad Reichenhall, Hall in Tirol...

    The panning house hosts a simmering pan which is still fully functioning and in operation about once a month when the extraction of salt from the brine is demonstrated. Packed salt from Halle's saline is on sale in the museum shop and makes an unusual souvenir.

    Opening hours: Tues - Sun 10.00-17.00

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    Museum of Prehistory and Nebra Sky Disk

    by Kathrin_E Written May 7, 2009

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    Museum f��r Vorgeschichte

    Halle's Museum of Prehistory (official name: Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Sachsen-Anhalt) is renowned both for its temporary exhibition on regional archeology and prehistory and their permanent collection. After restoration works in the building the presentations have been modernized and the museum reopened in 2008.

    The impressive building itself, erected in 1911-1913, is also worth a look.

    The museum's most precious treasure, however, is the Nebra Sky Disk which is on display in a special room on the second floor.
    The bronze disc, made about 3,600 years ago, is a star chart, the oldest depiction of astronomic phenomenons we know. The story of its find sounds like a whodunnit. In 1999 illegal treasure seekers excavated it on the summit of Mittelberg, a hill near Nebra on the Unstrut river in southern Saxony-Anhalt. They sold it. The object showed up in the hands of several traders until in 2002 undercover policemen in Basel got hold of it, pretending to be private collectors who wanted to buy it.

    Opening hours: Tues 9.00 - 19.30 , Wed, Thurs, Fri 9.00 - 17.00, Sat, Sun and holidays 10.00 - 18.00
    Entrance fee: adults 5 €, concessions 3 €, kds 2.50 €

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    Marktkirche - Market Church

    by Kathrin_E Updated May 7, 2009

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    Marktkirche, interior
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    Marktkirche or Unserer Lieben Frauen (Market Church or Church of Our Lady) are the two names of Halle's main parish church, situated in the very heart of the city between market square and Hallmarkt.

    Originally there were two medieval churches in a row: St. Gertrude in the west and the 12th-century St. Mary's in the east. The two pairs of towers were left standing and a new nave built between them. The so called Hausmann towers at the eastern end towards market square are joined by a bridge, where the fire watch stood, and were habitable. The octagonal Blue Towers that face Hallmarkt were named after their slate tiling.

    The church was begun in 1530 when Halle was still catholic, but before it was completed the reformation was introduced in the city. Plans for the interior were adjusted to the requirements of the new faith. However, the high altar with its pictures of saints, just completed by the workshop of Lucas Cranach in Wittenberg, has remained in the church despite its catholic dedication - it is an altar of the Virgin Mary.

    The church has two organs. The small one on the eastern gallery is older than the church, it dates from 1664. The great organ at the western end of the nave was inaugurated in 1716 in the presence of Johann Sebastian Bach.

    Also note the big mural on the eastern wall above the altar, the pulpit with its star-shaped cover, the surrounding galleries, and the dragon fountain outside the western entrance.
    The medieval bronze baptismal font, founded in 1430 by two metal workers from Braunschweig, is the very same little Georg Friedrich Händel was baptised in in 1685.

    The church owns the original death mask of Martin Luther, which is on display in the northwestern tower (access from inside the church, entrance fee 2 €).

    Opening hours of the church: Mon-Sat 10.00-17.00, Sun 15.00-17.00

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    Ulrichskirche - St Ulrich Church

    by Kathrin_E Written Apr 21, 2009

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    Ulrichskirche
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    The late gothic church of St Ulrich used to be one of the three parish churches of old Halle. In DDR times it lost its religious function and has since been used as a concert hall. The placards on the facade announce a jazz concert and a festival of children's choirs that are going to take place here.

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    Leipziger Straße Shopping Street

    by Kathrin_E Written Apr 21, 2009

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    Leipziger Stra��e
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    If you want to go shopping...

    The pedestrian mall of Leipziger Straße, Halle's main shopping street, leads from Marktplatz towards the train station. The part between Marktplatz and Leipziger Turm has the 'better' shops, mostly chain stores, the usual chains that can be found in any German city. The part from Leipziger Turm towards the station has more "cheapo&crap" shops and is a bit run down.

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    Rathaus - City Hall

    by Kathrin_E Written Apr 21, 2009

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    City hall
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    The present city hall was actually added to the historical town hall as an enlargement in the 1920s and named "Ratshof". However, the old city hall building was destroyed in World War II. The annex survived and then became the new centre of the city's administration.

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    "Geoskop" in Marktplatz: A Glimpse Into The Earth

    by Kathrin_E Written Apr 19, 2009

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    Geoskop in Marktplatz
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    The "Geoskop" shows the geological cause for the salt springs in Halle. Two layers of different kinds of rock meet. Through the cleft between them, the salty water rises.

    The metal block can be turned like a little roundabout. Look in through the top side. In the right position you see the cleft between one reddish and one greenish rock.

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