Halle (Saale) is seen as the “Cultural Capital of Saxony-Anhalt” for good reason. Over the course of its rich 1,200 year history, Halle has become famous for its beautiful old town, the unique and romantic scenery along the Saale River, its tradition of Handel, and the Francke Foundation. With a population of approximately 238,000, Halle is the largest city of Saxony-Anhalt and one of the five biggest cities in the New Länder, alongside Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, and Chemnitz.
The town is known for its five beautiful towers, which can be found on the Market Square: The two round caps, as well as the two blue peaks, of the Marienkirche Church, and the Roter Turm tower. Additionally, fifty-three percent of the town is considered to be green space, including the extensive riverbanks between Halle’s Old Town and New Town, making Halle one of the greenest major cities in Germany.
Music is an integral part of Halle's culture. For those who enjoy classical music, one of the highlights of Central Germany is the Annual Handel Festival, or Handelfest as it is known, which takes place every year, at the end of May. The music festival honours the works of George Frideric Handel, who was born in Halle. The famous Handel House is filled with interesting details on Handel’s life and work, Halle’s long tradition of music, as well as a large collection of antique musical instruments.
Fans of contemporary music will enjoy one of the world’s largest Beatles Museums, which opened in 2000 and contains more than 2,500 rotating exhibits of Beatles memorabilia.
Halle’s reputation as a modern site of education and science is rooted in the five hundred-year history of the Leopoldina, a University of Art steeped in tradition that was officially nominated by the National Academy of Sciences in 2008. Handel's town is also home to the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg with over 500 years of history and tradition and the German Federal Cultural Foundation. With the 3,600-year-old Nebra Sky Disc, humanity’s first concrete representation of the sky, Halle is home to a UNESO treasure. The Sky Disc is included into the UNESCO´s memory of the World.
The Foundation of the Great Pedagogue August Hermann Francke originated as a poorhouse and orphanage in 1698. Today, these buildings accommodate one of the oldest libraries in Germany, with more than 60,000 books from the 17th and 18th centuries. It is not only the historical seat of learning, it is the largest timber framed ensemble in Europe and is home to an unmatched Baroque collection of art and natural products.
Halle is full of potential when it comes to exciting historical adventures, most notably due to the influence of Martin Luther’s opponent Cardinal Albert. Albert’s contribution as a master of works (including the cathedral extensions and the construction of a new residence) represents the ideal starting point for a trip back in time to the 16th century. The adventure definitely does not end there however: the Pietists took Reformatory ideas from the Francke Foundations out into the world which had a profound impact.
Martin Luther’s original death mask can be visited in a tower space in the Marktkirche (market church), along with a plaster cast, taken later, and the pulpit from Luther’s time. Luther gave three sermons in the Market Church of Halle: on 5th August 1545, 6th January and 26th January 1546.
The Marienbibliothek (Library of Our Lady) which was founded in 1552, belongs to the Market Church parish and is one of the oldest and most extensive church library collections in Germany. The collection includes 30,000 volumes, as well as 600 incunabula (graphic prints from before 1500) there are pieces hailing from all academic fields of the 16th and 17th centuries.