Halle is the ‘city of Handel’. The famous composer George Frideric Handel was born and baptised in Halle in 1685 and learnt to play the organ there, before going forth into the world. Halle’s history goes back much further than that of course – the city is more than 1,200 years old and is home to over 230,000 people today. Thankfully, the historical city centre suffered little damage during the Second World War and many buildings were preserved. The city’s various museums are also well worth a visit.
The famous Nebra Sky Disk also has its home in Halle: it is on display at the State Museum of Prehistory, the regional museum of archaeology for Saxony-Anhalt. The Nebra Sky Disk was recently inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.
In addition to the 3,600-year-old Nebra Sky Disk, the museum also houses one of the oldest, most comprehensive and most important archaeological collections in Germany, and hosts various temporary exhibitions.
First documented in 961, Giebichenstein Castle overlooks the river Saale and is one of the attractions along the Romanesque Route. While the upper castle is open to visitors, the lower castle is home to the Giebichenstein Castle University of Art and Design. Halle also boasts a second building along the Romanesque Route – the Church of St. Nicholas in the Böllberg district.
Anyone visiting Halle should allow plenty of time for a stroll on Peissnitz island. Here you can follow miles of winding pathways beside the river Saale. In 2012 Halle was named the German city with the highest proportion of green spaces and recreational areas.*
*15.9 per cent of the area, not incl. forests, according to the 2012 Städtereport Deutschland (City Report Germany)
The market square in Halle is dominated by the silhouette of the ‘Five Towers’ – the four towers of the market church and the 84-metre-high Red Tower, which is 500 years old and houses the largest carillon in Europe. The Handel statue is also found on the market square. Erected in 1859 it shows the composer leaning against a conductor’s stand with the musical score for his oratorio ‘Messiah'.
The house where Handel was born has been preserved in its original condition. Located in the centre of Halle, it is now home to a museum with a permanent exhibition entitled 'Handel - The European', various temporary exhibitions and a collection of historical musical instruments.
The city of Halle has close associations with the salt trade. The Halle Fault, a fault line that runs across the market square, made the extraction of salt possible in the Middle Ages. Salt is still produced in Halle today - by members of a saltworking fraternity (Salzwirker-Brüderschaft im Thale zu Halle), also known as the Hallors. Visitors can watch them at work at the saltworks and salt-panning museum (Technisches Halloren- und Salinemuseum).
Halle also has a sweet side: Halloren chocolate balls are made at the Halloren Chocolate Factory, the oldest chocolate-making facility in Germany. The museum here features an exhibition on the history of chocolate and is home to a 'chocolate room' made exclusively from chocolate and marzipan. Visitors can also look through a glass roof into the production area of the factory.