15 things to do in Halle (Germany)

The largest city in Saxony-Anhalt, Halle is a historic former ducal town. Baroque composer George Friedrich Handel was born in Halle in 1685 and lived here until he was 18. His birthplace is well preserved and you can visit the church where he was baptized and played the organ.

The site of Handel’s baptism, the Marktkirche Unser Lieben Frauen also witnessed Martin Luther’s sermons in 1545 and 1546, which shook the heart of the Catholic Church. Halle was part of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg throughout the Middle Ages until 1680, and its ruling archbishop-elector established stately castles in the cities of Moritzburg and Neue Residenz.

Let’s explore the best things to do in Harley:

1. Marktkirche Unser Lieben Frauen

Market Church Unser Lieben Frauen

One of the finest Late Gothic churches in central Germany, Halle’s 16th-century market church is not to be missed for its four towers.

These are four of the five towers that gave Halley the “Stadt der fünf Türme” nickname. The unusual pair of twin towers on the east side are the watchmen’s towers, connected high by a bridge.

Martin Luther preached three times at Market Church, where George Frederick Handel was baptized 140 years later.

Luther’s death mask and a model of his hand are kept in a small museum under the blue tower.

The 15th century bronze baptismal font used for Handel’s baptism in 1685 is still on display.

Handel received his first organ lessons on the small organ above the altar, while Johann Sebastian Bach played the organ when the West Gallery was inaugurated in 1716.

2. Halley State Museum of Prehistory

Halley State Museum of Prehistory

This world-class museum presents archaeological finds in Saxony-Anhalt in chronological order.

The permanent exhibition begins in the Stone Age and ends in the early Iron Age, some 2,000 years ago.

If there is one item you absolutely must see, it is the Nebraska horoscope.

The bronze disc with a diameter of 30 cm was excavated 60 kilometers away and has a history of 3,600 years.

The Nebraska Disk is the oldest known representation of the night sky, depicting the stars, sun and crescent moon.

The piece is so complex that it was believed to be a fake until science confirmed its age.

Keep an eye out for the museum’s famous special exhibitions, which in recent years have covered topics as diverse as alchemy, Pompeii, mammoths, and the art of fear.

3. Händel-Haus


Baroque composer George Friedrich Handel was born in this Renaissance complex in 1685. His father George purchased the property in 1666, and the building itself dates back to at least 1558. The tradition of painting the façade yellow dates back to the 17th century, when the house was called Zum Gelben Hirsch (Yellow Stag). The museum has three main sections: Handel, the history of music in the Halle region and the collection of historical instruments.

With 160 chronological exhibits, you can trace Handel’s early life in Halle and his career in Europe from 1703 to 1759. There’s a mini-baroque theatre where you can watch Handel’s animated performances, and the pile of instruments has 700 pieces, including a Ruckers harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1599.

4. Halloren Chocolate Factory

Halloran Chocolate Factory

In Halle since the beginning of the 19th century, the Halloran Chocolate Factory is the oldest chocolate factory in Germany and is still in operation.

The museum showcases more than two centuries of chocolate-making expertise, including children’s puzzles, antique chocolate-making equipment and multi-sensory installations such as listening stations and scent walls.

At “Pralineum” you can watch the chocolatiers in Halloren from behind a glass plate and witness the art of making pralines first hand.

There is also a chocolate gallery where 1.5 tons of chocolate is processed into art.

5. Market Square

market square

Halle’s 14 streets lead to the city’s 16,000 m² Marktplatz, home to many places of interest such as the Marktkirche and the Roter Turm.

People have traded in the market square since the first public warehouses (predecessors of department stores) were established for Harley’s tailors and fabric traders in the 1100s.

There is a market every day from Monday to Saturday 09:00-18:00, where there are stalls at the Halle Christmas Market.

One of the landmarks not on this list is the 3.20-meter statue of Handel, erected in 1859 on the 100th anniversary of his death.

He pointed in the direction of England, his second home and cemetery.

Next to the monument is the elegant Rathaus (Town Hall) in the Gothic and Renaissance Revival styles of the 1890s.

6.Roter Turm (Red Tower)


Halle’s fifth tower is also the tallest, reaching 84 meters on the Marktplatz just a few meters from the Marktkirche.

The tower has been under construction for 88 years and was completed in late Gothic style in 1506. If you squint, you can see clusters of 246 spikes on the gilded sphere at the very top of the spire.

As an independent clock tower, Halle’s Roter Turm has no equivalent in Germany.

The tower has a carillon consisting of 76 bells, the largest in Europe, with a total weight of nearly 55 tons.

The smallest weighs only 10.7 kilograms, while the largest, called Dame Händel, has a diameter of 2.36 meters and is the third largest playable bell in the world.

7. Moritzburg Art Museum

Moritzburg Art Museum

The Art Museum of Saxony-Anhalt is located in the residence of the Archbishop of Magdeburg.

The palace was an Early Renaissance building from the turn of the 16th century, but was destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War a century later and left in ruins.

In 2010, Spanish architecture firm Nieto Sobejano transformed the palace into a modern design.

The courtroom and ballroom are steeped in history, with coffered ceilings and wood-panelled walls revealing the splendor of the original palace.

The 19th-century gallery features paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, Anselm Feuerbach and Max Klinger, as well as sculptures by Rodin and Mayor.

In the modern hall, there is a collection of art works by Lyonel Feininger, Klee, Klimt, Kandinsky, Kirchner, Ernst and many more eminent figures of Symbolism, Expressionism and New Objectivity.

8. Halley-Neustadt


West of Altstadt, across the Saale River, is the largest construction project in post-war Germany.

Halle-Neustadt was built in the 1960s for chemical factory workers in Halle and is a model socialist city of 100,000 people.

Neustadt is designed to be healthy, modern and comfortable, while also instilling an ideology in its inhabitants.

In these monolithic concrete towers, all apartments are aligned to capture sunlight, and distances between amenities are minimised to avoid traffic.

Almost half of the space is allocated for park land, and the fast rail gets workers to their factories in minutes.

Now, the development has had better days and plans for reconstruction are in the works.

9. Stadtgottesacker (City Cemetery)

City Hall

Stadtgottesacker was originally located east of the city walls and was a Renaissance cemetery built in 1557. The design is based on the Camposanto Monument in Pisa, a complex regarded as a masterpiece of German Renaissance architecture.

The cemetery is surrounded by walls, and inwards are 94 beautifully decorated arcades covering the tombs.

An 1882 survey determined that 92 different stonemasons worked on the reliefs in the arcade.

Above the arch at the interior entrance, there is a relief portrait of cemetery designer Nickel Hoffmann.

You can also find the graves of important figures such as Georg Händel (father), 17th century philosopher Christian Thomasius and 18th century Lutheran priest and philanthropist August Hermann Francke.

10. The Frank Foundation

Frank Foundation

August Hermann Francke’s contribution to Halle was the establishment of the orphanage and school in 1695. In 30 years, the Frank Foundation has become a large educational complex with teacher training facilities and even businesses such as a publishing house and a pharmacy.

Based on the ideals of reform, Frank’s plan was to provide education for children, regardless of social class, based on hands-on learning and taking into account the individual needs of each child.

These educational concepts were unheard of at the time, and you can visit the site, which includes the longest half-timbered building in Europe, the Langhe House.

A highlight is Frank’s Artifacts and Treasures Cabinet, originally intended as an educational tool and containing a wealth of natural and man-made items such as minerals, herbarium, artwork and coins.

11. Hallors and Saline Museum

Halles and Saltwater Museum

Salt has been processed in Halley since the Bronze Age.

This is thanks to brine wells, a geological wonder that produces concentrated brine.

The name Hallors comes from the Brotherhood of Saltworkers formed at the end of the 15th century.

They have been working to preserve Halley’s salt heritage.

Located in the old Royal Prussian Saltworks, the museum preserves facilities from the 1700s to the 1900s.

Here you can see how brine is boiled in a ceramic evaporation vessel to create salt crystals.

Even as a museum, the salt farm produces 70 tons of salt a year, all of which is sold to local businesses.

There are also glass cases containing ceremonial artifacts related to the Brotherhood, such as cups and trophies dating back to the 17th century.

12. Hallescher Dom

Hallesche Cathedral

Built in the 13th century, Halle Cathedral is the oldest church building in the city.

Originally a simple Dominican convent church, it was transformed in 1520 by Cardinal Albert of Brandenburg, Archbishop of Magdeburg.

Together with the Neue Residenz palace next door, he built the most powerful monastery north of the Alps at the time.

Measuring 68 meters long and with three naves, the church is the first example of a circular gable of a facade in Germany.

The interior is still full of Renaissance art, the best of which is the cycle of 17 statues on the columns, dating from 1525, depicting Christ and the apostles.

Handel was organist for a year at the Hallescher Dom in 1702-03.

13. New Residence

new residence

Another exhibit in Cardinal Albert’s reconstruction project is a lavish Renaissance palace next to the cathedral, built in 1531. Traces of Italian Renaissance architecture can be seen in its arches and courtyards.

In its heyday, the two-storey building was described as the wealthiest building in central Germany, and despite not much glory into the 21st century, it is a fascinating place.

The street-facing façade retains Albert’s coat of arms and can be crossed through the courtyard in summer.

In August, there are performances during the annual Handel Festival.

For the past decade, the gardens have been redecorated with a different theme each year as part of an initiative to help the city’s long-term unemployed.

14. The Beatles Museum

The Beatles Museum

In the Old Market, a grand Baroque house built in 1708 is a museum that showcases more modern musical phenomena.

Beatles fanatic Rainer Moers built a collection of memorabilia for the Merseyside band from 1964 to 1975, covering the life cycle of the Beatles (1960-1970) and the artist’s personal career.

The museum started out as a traveling exhibition before settling in Halle in 2000. There are 3,500 exhibits here, almost anything related to the Beatles, whether it’s vintage posters, autographs, stamps, rare LPs, photos, magazines or fan memorabilia.

15. Zoologische Garten Halle

Zoological Garden Halle

Halle’s zoo is often referred to as Bergzoo (Hill Zoo) because it sits close to Reilsberg, 130 meters north of the city.

The terrain around the fence can be steep, which can be tricky if you have kids under 5.

But the constant views of the city from the lookout at the top are the most memorable.

The zoo was established in 1901, and nearly every habitat has been reconfigured since reunification.

For example, the indoor crocodile house has alligators and crocodiles in a heated environment, while iguanas and exotic birds roam freely in the tropical house.

The newly renovated big cat enclosure features South West African lions, jaguars and Malaysian tigers, while connected to it is a “predator home” for pythons and lizards.

Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Halle, Germany
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