Almost unknown Germany: Halle an der Saale
January 1, 1970
by Vera Rizzetto
What to do in Halle (short stay)
Last year I had the pleasure of spending 6 months in Halle an der Saale as an erasmus student. Yes, i know what you are all thinking! Halle is a city in eastern Germany, really close to Leipzig and not that far from Berlin. But everybody knows Berlin, right? And what about Halle? Let me help you getting to know this underestimated city! Hier is what I think you should do if you find yourself in Halle for a short time.
The city is not really big, but it has a beautiful square called Marktplatz (yes, i know, like every other German square! Germans have a lot of imagination). In the middle of the square there’s a beautiful church that was built during the middleages, Marktkirche, and also a statue representing Georg Friedrich Haendel, a famous baroque composer who was born in Halle and is now symbol of the city (Halle is also called Haendelsstadt). If you want to sip a coffee during the day, looking at the square and feeling the vibe of this nice city, you can stop at Café Rossini: there you can talk with some italian waiters and have a good cappuccino, just don’t expect it to be cheap! Otherwise you can enter in the Galeria Kaufhof, a huge shopping mall where you can find basically everything you need, from clothes to the Halloren, the typical chocolates from Halle (I liked them a lot and they’re also cheap, so I suggest to try them and bring them home as a souvenir). Once you’re inside, go up to the 4th floor and drink/eat something at the DINEA restaurant. Sit in the terrace so you can have one of the best views over the city! Another option is climbing up Burg Giebichenstein, inside Peissnitz park, that is crossed by the river Saale (that’s why it’s called Halle an der Saale).
View of Peissnitz and a part of Halle from Burg Giebichenstein
The center is very nice and quiet, but during the night also really boring. Usually after 11 PM you can only find some drunk guys screaming or asking you if they can pee on the street (yes, it happened). That’s why you’d better go somewhere else!
First option: Kleine Ulrichstrasse
Have a walk on the Kleine Ulrichstrasse, the street where you can find every kind of bar or restaurant you like. Halle is small, so from Marktplatz you can easily reach Kleine Ulrichsstrasse by foot. Just choose the bar that inspires you more and start drinking! The Roter Horizont (red horizon) is really classy, offers nice music (when I went there, there was a piano playing by itself. Really hypnotizing) and some say you can taste the best hot chocolate in Halle there. The Connoisseur is less elegant, but still great. Grab a beer and enjoy! If you’re in the mood of drinking, you can also try out the Potemkin. Cross the pub, sit in the inner garden and have a white russian.
Second option: Universitaetsplatz
If you don’t have much money and want to live like a german student, you can simply buy some beers at a supermarket or at a Spaeti (convenience store: you can find them everywhere in Halle, like in many others german cities. So buy a cheap beer or a small vodka to feel like a local) and then go to Universitaetsplatz, the university square, sit on the stairs and enjoy your Sterni (Sternburg, a cheap and well known bier). Afterwards you can go clubbing, maybe at the Flowerpower (5 minutes walking), where you can enter for free, at the Turm, or at the Drushba, if you prefer alternative music. Always remember you’re not in Berlin but, as one of my favourite german bands sings, “Alles Kreuzberg wenn du tanzt”, meaning every place feels like Kreuzberg (cool area in Berlin) when you dance.
Third option: open-airs
Open your eyes and ears and follow the crowd! Germans love open-airs and you can easily find one every week. There are many open-airs during the day, but the ones during the night are really exciting. If you really want to know germans, you’d better join one of these parties. Some are easy to find, others are more secret and you’d better go there in a group. Last summer I trusted my friends and I almost fell off a hill to reach a secret place where they were having a kind of secret party. I know what you’re thinking and yes, there were also drugs, but mainly colourful lights and happy people dancing to electro music.
My Musts (if you stay longer)
If you have more time to explore the city or you don’t want to leave it yet, because you feel like you’re falling in love with it, here are some of my musts.
There’s a must see I recomend: without doubt the Freiraumgalerie! Go to Freiimfelde and have a look around. It’s outside the city center , but it takes just a few minutes to go there by bus. And it’s absolutely worth it! You can’t say you know the spirit of eastern Germany unless you go there. It’s basically a part of the city that still has a lot of uninhabited apartments: if you walk around, you have the feeling of being in a different city and you can meet just some creepy faces. But if you keep your head up, the walls will surprise you: they are covered with murals of all kinds. Some of them are really impressive and help you get the feeling of being in a really unique place. Just don’t miss it!
It’s difficult to name only one must do, but for sure you need to eat a currywurst at the Don’t worry be curry, maybe at night after the club. Currywurst is typical for this area of Germany. During summer I suggest you to have a trip to a lake. I’ve been to the Hufeisensee with my boyfriend last summer. We went there by bike and it took less than an hour. It was really into the wild and I loved it. It rained a lot, but that didn’t ruin our day! We swam with the fish and the water looked really clean. During the trip by bike you can also have a look at Halle’s countryside.
Crazy must do
If you’re crazy enough, have a swim in the Saale in the middle of the night! Swim with the nutrias and all the other animals you can’t see because of the dark. Try not to touch the bottom of the lake with your feet!
If you want to get to know Halle having fun, check out this link: https://youtu.be/A758VBf5brg . The Brothers Carr sing about Halle through remakes of famous songs! In this case Paulus Viertel is a hipster suburb of Halle, where you can find the coolest houses of the city. Enjoy and laugh along!