Leipzig is the largest city in the German federal state of Saxony, with a population of approximately 600,000 (Oct 2019). It is the economic centre of the region, known as Germany's "Boomtown" and a major cultural centre, offering interesting sights, shopping and lively nightlife. The Gewandhausorchester is the biggest and one of the most prominent classical orchestras in Germany, and Leipzig Zoological Garden is one of the most modern zoos in Europe. The Neuseenland, outside of Leipzig, is a huge lake district.
First documented in 1015, and endowed with city and market privileges in 1165, the city of Leipzig has fundamentally shaped the history of Saxony and of Germany. It was founded at the crossing of two ancient trade routes, Via Regia and Via Imperii. Leipzig has always been known as a place of commerce and still has large trade fairgrounds and exhibition halls known as the Leipzig Messe north of the city. Before it became common to dedicate a specific area to trade fairs, they took place in the city. Which is why many of the historical buildings were constructed by merchants, as were Leipzig's unique system of arcades and courtyards.