Halle (Saale)

Coordinates: 51°28′58″N 11°58′11″E / 51.48278°N 11.96972°E / 51.48278; 11.96972
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Halle (Saale)
Flag of Halle (Saale)
Coat of arms of Halle (Saale)
Location of Halle (Saale)
Halle (Saale) is located in Germany
Halle (Saale)
Halle (Saale)
Halle (Saale) is located in Saxony-Anhalt
Halle (Saale)
Halle (Saale)
Coordinates: 51°28′58″N 11°58′11″E / 51.48278°N 11.96972°E / 51.48278; 11.96972
DistrictUrban district
 • Mayor (2019–26) Bernd Wiegand[1]
 • Total135.01 km2 (52.13 sq mi)
87 m (285 ft)
 • Total238,061
 • Density1,800/km2 (4,600/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
Dialling codes0049345
Vehicle registrationHAL
Websitewww.halle.de Edit this at Wikidata

Halle (Saale), or simply Halle (German: [ˈhalə]; from the 15th to the 17th century: Hall in Sachsen; until the beginning of the 20th century: Halle an der Saale [ˈhalə ʔan deːɐ̯ ˈzaːlə] ; from 1965 to 1995: Halle/Saale) is the largest city of the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, the fourth most populous city in the area of former East Germany after (East) Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden, as well as the 31st largest city of Germany, and with around 244,000[3] inhabitants, it is slightly more populous than the state capital of Magdeburg. Together with Leipzig, the largest city of Saxony, Halle forms the polycentric Leipzig-Halle conurbation. Between the two cities, in Schkeuditz, lies Leipzig/Halle International Airport. The Leipzig-Halle conurbation is at the heart of the larger Central German Metropolitan Region.

Halle lies in the south of Saxony-Anhalt, in the Leipzig Bay, the southernmost part of the North German Plain, on the River Saale (a tributary of the Elbe), which is the third longest river flowing entirely in Germany after the Weser and the Main. The White Elster flows into the Saale in the southern borough of Silberhöhe. Halle is the fourth largest city in the Thuringian-Upper Saxon dialect area after Leipzig, Dresden and Chemnitz.

Halle is an economic and educational center in central Germany. The Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, with campuses in Halle and Wittenberg, is the largest university in Saxony-Anhalt, one of the oldest universities in Germany, and a nurturing ground for the local startup ecosystem. The German National Academy of Sciences, commonly known as Leopoldina, has its seat in Halle. The university hospital of Halle (Universitätsklinikum Halle (Saale)) is the largest hospital in the state.


Halle (Saale) is located in the southern part of Saxony-Anhalt in central Germany, along the river Saale which drains the surrounding plains and the greater part of the neighboring Free State of Thuringia just to its south, and the Thuringian basin, northwards from the Thuringian Forest. Leipzig, one of Germany's major cities, is only 35 kilometres (22 mi) away. Its area is 135.01 km2 (52.13 sq mi).[4]


Köppen climate classification classifies its climate as oceanic (Cfb). However, it is close to being a cold semi-arid climate (BSk). Using the most current climate data from April 2017 to March 2022, the annual precipitation is 17 mm too much to be classified as a cold semi-arid climate.[5] For example, using the climate data from September 2015 to August 2020, the climate would fulfill the requirements to be classified as a cold semi-arid climate.[6] Notwithstanding, the great variation of annual precipitation between the years allows agriculture and large trees to grow, surviving recurring drought periods and years like in the summers of 2018 and 2019 with severe drought because of regularly occurring wet periods and years and absence of extremely hot temperatures with never reaching 40 °C (104 °F). With its vegetation, Halle is far from the steppe or semi-desert vegetation typical of cold semi-arid climates.

Climate data for Halle (Saale) April 2017-March 2022
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 13.0
Average high °C (°F) 5.2
Daily mean °C (°F) 2.8
Average low °C (°F) 0.1
Record low °C (°F) −10.5
Average precipitation mm (inches) 30
Average rainy days 17 11 13 9 11 8 9 8 10 14 12 15 137
Mean monthly sunshine hours 51 106 165 240 238 247 244 91 171 106 73 46 1,778
Source: Deutscher Wetterdienst [7]


Halle about 1900


Halle's early history is connected with the harvesting of salt. The name of the river Saale contains the Germanic root for salt, and salt-harvesting has taken place in Halle since at least the Bronze Age (2300–600 BC).

From 1965 to 1995, the official name was Halle/Saale.

Middle Ages until industrialisation[edit]

The earliest documented mention of Halle dates from AD 806. It became a part of the Archbishopric of Magdeburg in the 10th century and remained so until 1680, when the Margraviate of Brandenburg annexed it together with Magdeburg as the Duchy of Magdeburg, while it was an important location for Martin Luther's Reformation in the 16th century. Cardinal Albert of Mainz (Archbishop of Magdeburg from 1513 to 1545) also impacted on the town in this period. According to historic documents, the city of Halle became a member of the Hanseatic League at least as early as 1281.

Halle became a center for Pietism, a movement encouraged by King Frederick William I of Prussia (reigned 1713–1740) because it caused the area's large Lutheran population to be more inclined to Fredrick William I's religion (Calvinism), as well as more loyal to the Prussian king instead of to the decentralized feudal system. By the 1740s Halle had established many orphanages as well as schools for the wealthy in the sober style Pietism encouraged. This Halle education was the first time the "modern education" system was established.[citation needed] The Halle Pietists also combatted poverty.[8]

During the War of the Fourth Coalition, French and Prussian forces clashed in the Battle of Halle on 17 October 1806. The fighting moved from the covered bridges on the city's west side, through the streets and market place, to the eastern suburbs.

In 1815 Halle became part of the Prussian Province of Saxony.

World War II (1939–1945)[edit]

Halle survived the Second World War almost unscathed and still has an intact cityscape today.

During World War II, KZ-Außenlager Birkhahn, a subcamp of Buchenwald was in Halle, where prisoners from Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, France, Netherlands and other nations[9] were forced to work in the Siebel aircraft plants, making combat aircraft. The plant was later dismantled. In Ammendorf, a large factory owned by Orgacid [de] produced mustard gas.

Near the end of World War II, there were two bombing raids carried out against the town: the first on 31 March 1945, the second a few days later. The first attack took place between the railway station and the city's centre, and the second bombing was in the southern district. It killed over 1,000 inhabitants and destroyed 3,600 buildings. Among them, are the Market Church, St. George Church, the Old Town Hall, the municipal theatre, historic buildings on Bruederstrasse and on Grosse Steinstrasse, and the city cemetery.

On 17 April 1945, American soldiers occupied Halle, and the Red Tower was set on fire by artillery and destroyed. The Market Church and the Church of St. George received more hits. However, the city was spared further damage because an aerial bombardment was canceled, after former naval officer Felix von Luckner negotiated the city's surrender to the American army. In July, the Americans withdrew and the city was occupied by the Red Army.

German Democratic Republic (1949–1990)[edit]

After World War II, Halle served as the capital of the short-lived administrative region of Saxony-Anhalt until 1952, when the East German government abolished its "Länder" (states). As a part of East Germany (until 1990), it functioned as the capital of the administrative district (Bezirk) of Halle.

Since German unity (after 1990)[edit]

When Saxony-Anhalt was re-established as a Bundesland in 1990, Magdeburg, not Halle, became the capital.[10]

On 9 October 2019, two people were killed in a shooting incident at a synagogue in Halle. The Federal Prosecutor (Generalbundesanwalt) classified the attack as an act of right-wing terrorism stemming from antisemitism; as a consequence security measures at Jewish facilities were increased.


Historical population
Population size may be affected by changes in administrative divisions. Source:[11][circular reference]

Halle has a population of about 238,000 and is the largest city in Saxony-Anhalt State. In the East Germany era, Halle had a lot of big industry with many workplaces. At the time Halle was one of the leading cities in East Germany, along with Leipzig and Dresden. Halle reached its highest population in 1991 with about 305,000 people. Since German reunification, Halle's population began to decline due to its loss of industry, with many people moving to former West Germany. Halle is now considered one of the poorest cities in Germany. Halle's foreign population began to grow in 2015 after refugees from Syria and other war torn countries moved to Halle. However, many foreigners experience racism in Halle due to its location in former East Germany, where many people are not as open as in the former West Germany, so the city has problem with conflict between foreigners and right-wing extremists.[citation needed]

Population of foreign residents:

Rank Nationality Population (31.03.2022)
1  Ukraine 5,468
2  Syria 4,330
3  Romania 1,318
4  Vietnam 1,174
5  Russia 1,066
6  Afghanistan 1,033
7  Poland 978
8  Turkey 843
9  Iraq 782
10  Bulgaria 721



The current mayor of Halle is independent politician Bernd Wiegand since 2012. The most recent mayoral election was held on 13 October 2019, with a runoff held on 27 October, and the results were as follows:

Candidate Party First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
Bernd Wiegand Independent 35,419 44.3 41,273 61.4
Hendrik Lange Left/SPD/Greens 20,104 25.2 25,922 38.6
Andreas Silbersack FDP/CDU 18,310 22.9
Daniel Schrader Independent 1,954 2.5
Falko Kadzimirisz Free Voters 1,613 2.0
Dörte Jacobi Independent (PARTEI) 1,598 2.0
Rolf Lennart Thiemann Independent 488 0.6
Martin Bochmann Independent (PARTEI) 397 0.5
Valid votes 79,883 99.4 67,195 99.1
Invalid votes 451 0.6 625 0.9
Total 80,334 100.0 67,820 100.0
Electorate/voter turnout 189,583 42.4 189,208 35.8
Source: City of Halle (Saale)

City council[edit]

Winning party by locality in the 2019 city council election.

The most recent city council election was held on 26 May 2019, and the results were as follows:

Party Votes % +/- Seats +/-
The Left (Die Linke) 55,951 17.8 Decrease 7.3 10 Decrease 4
Christian Democratic Union (CDU) 54,831 17.4 Decrease 7.7 10 Decrease 4
Alliance 90/The Greens (Grüne) 51,239 16.3 Increase 6.2 9 Increase 3
Alternative for Germany (AfD) 44,028 14.0 Increase 9.4 8 Increase 5
Social Democratic Party (SPD) 35,489 11.3 Decrease 7.9 6 Decrease 5
Priority Halle (Hauptsache) 21,637 6.9 New 3 New
Free Democratic Party (FDP) 16,904 5.4 Increase 1.1 3 Increase 1
With Citizens for Halle (MitBürger) 14,051 4.5 Decrease 1.1 3 ±0
Die PARTEI (PARTEI) 10,760 3.4 Increase 2.5 2 Increase 1
Free Voters (FW) 6,568 2.1 Increase 1.4 1 Increase 1
Team Schrader (Schrader) 2,576 0.8 New 0 New
National Democratic Party (NPD) 738 0.2 Decrease 1.0 0 Decrease 1
Total 314,722 100.0
Valid votes 106,352 98.3
Invalid votes 1,796 1.7
Total 108,148 100.0 56 ±0
Electorate/voter turnout 191,030 56.6 Increase 16.2
Source: City of Halle (Saale)


Halle market square, with Market Church
View to Giebichenstein Castle
Halle Cathedral
Moritzburg Castle
  • Halloren Chocolate Factory and visitors' centre, Germany's oldest chocolate factory still in use.[12]
  • Giebichenstein Castle, first mentioned in 961, is north of the city centre on a hill above the Saale river, with a museum in the upper castle and the Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in the lower castle.
  • Moritzburg, a newer castle, was built between 1484 and 1503. It was the residence of the Archbishops of Magdeburg, was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War, and was a ruin for centuries afterward. Partially reconstructed in 1901–1913, it is an art gallery today. The reconstruction was completed with the opening of new exhibition rooms designed by the Spanish architects Sobejano and Nieto in 2010.
  • Neue Residenz (New Residence), an early Renaissance palace (1531–1537)
  • Market square with
    • Market Church of St. Mary (Marktkirche), built in 1529–1554, using elements of two medieval churches, St. Gertrude's Church dating back to the 11th century and the older St. Mary's Church from the 12th century. The church has four steeples, the two western octagonal ones are called Blue Towers because of their dark blue slate roofing. The other two Hausmannstürme are connected by a bridge and on this bridge was the city's fire watch. The church owns the original death-mask of Martin Luther. The Marktkirche's four towers is a landmark symbol of the city.[13][14]
    • Roter Turm (Red Tower), originally built as campanile of the older St. Mary's Church between 1418 and 1503, a landmark of Halle, with the steeples of St. Mary's Church forms the five towers marking the city's skyline.
    • Roland, originally (13th century) a wooden sculpture representing urban liberty (after an uprising in the city, a cage was placed around it between 1481 and 1513, a reminder of the restrictions). Today's sculpture is a sandstone replica made in 1719.
    • Marktschlösschen, late Renaissance building, gallery and tourist information office
    • Monument to George Frideric Handel, 1859 by Hermann Heidel
    • Ratshof (Council's Yard), built in 1928/29 as a backyard building of the Old Town Hall (demolished in 1948/50 after the destruction of World War II, so the Ratshof is situated today directly on the market square).
    • Stadthaus, Renaissance-Revival building of 1891–1894
    • Yellow line, which runs over the market square, marking a geological fault line, the Hallische Verwerfung.
  • Handel House, first mentioned in 1558, birthplace of George Frideric Handel, a museum since 1948
  • Wilhelm Friedemann Bach House, home of composer Wilhelm Friedemann Bach, now a museum
  • Old Market square with Donkey's Fountain (1906/13), referring to a local legend
  • Remains of the town fortifications: the Leipzig Tower (Leipziger Turm) (15th century) in the east and remains of the town wall to the south of the city centre.
  • Sculpture dedicated to Lenin in the Pestalozzi Park.[15]
  • Francke Foundations, Baroque buildings (including Europe's largest surviving half-timbered building) and historical collections
  • Stadtgottesacker, a Renaissance cemetery, laid out in 1557, in the style of an Italian camposanto
  • Saline Museum is dedicated to Halle's salt-works and the corporation of salt workers (Halloren)
  • Cathedral (Dom), a steepleless building, was originally a church within a Dominican monastery (1271), converted into a cathedral by cardinal Albert of Hohenzollern. Since 1688, it has been the church of the Reformed parish.
  • Saint Maurice Church, late Gothic building (1388–1511)
  • Saint Ulrich Church, late Gothic church of the Servite Order (15th century), today used as a concert hall
  • Church of the former village of Böllberg (Romanesque, with late Gothic painted wooden ceiling)
  • Numerous bourgeois town houses, including the Ackerbürgerhof (15th – 18th centuries with remains from the 12th century), Christian Wolff's House (today City Museum), Graseweg House (half-timbered building)
  • State Museum of Prehistory where the Nebra sky disk is exhibited
  • Volkspark (1906/07), former meeting house of the Social Democrats
  • Theatres:
  • Parks and gardens:
    • Botanical Garden of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, founded in 1698 in the former gardens of the Archbishops of Magdeburg, belonging to the Garden Dreams project
    • Reichardts Garten is a historic park, part of the Garden Dreams project. Laid out in 1794 by Johann Friedrich Reichardt (1752–1814) as an English garden, becoming the "accommodation of Romanticism". It changed ownership several times and the city of Halle bought the park in 1903 to give the public wider access.
    • Peißnitz Island
    • Pestalozzi Park
    • Zoological Garden (Bergzoo), situated on the Reilsberg hill.
  • Galgenberge, location of the gallows from the 14th to the end of the 18th century
  • Klausberge, porphyry hill, named after a chapel of the St. Nicholas' brotherhood, panoramic view over the Saale Valley, Eichendorff's bench
  • Dölauer Heide forest, including Bischofs Wiese with 35 graves dating back to about 2500–2000 BC, the Neolithic period
  • Racecourse in the Passendorf Meadows
  • Halle-Neustadt, to the west of Halle, built beginning 1964 (foundation stone ceremony 15 July 1964) as a socialist model city. Still has several monuments from the GDR, as a giant mural dedicated to Lenin.[16]

Image gallery[edit]

Industrial heritage[edit]

Hallors and Saline Museum

Salt, also known as white gold, was extracted from four "Borns" (well-like structures). The four Borns/brine named Gutjahrbrunnen, Meteritzbrunnen, Deutscher Born and Hackeborn, were located around the Hallmarket (or "Under Market"), now a market square with a fountain, just across from the TV station, MDR. The brine was highly concentrated and boiled in Koten, simple structured houses made from reed and clay. Salters, who wore a unique uniform with eighteen silver buttons, were known as Halloren, and this name was later used for the chocolates in the shape of these buttons.

The Halloren-Werke, the oldest chocolate factory in Germany, was founded in 1804. Old documents are on display and a chocolate room can be visited.

Within East Germany, Halle's chemical industry, now mainly shut down, was of great importance. The two main companies in the region were Buna-Werke and Leuna, and Halle-Neustadt was built in the 1960s to accommodate the employees of these two factories.

Science and culture[edit]

Baroque composer Georg Friedrich Händel (later George Frideric Handel) was born in Halle in 1685 and spent the first 17 years of his life in the city. The house where he lived is now a museum about his life. To celebrate his music, Halle has staged a Handel Festival since 1922, annually in June since 1952. The Franckesche Stiftungen (Francke Foundations) are home to the Stadtsingechor zu Halle [de], which was founded before the year 1116 and is one of the oldest boys' choirs in the world.[citation needed]

The University of Halle was founded here in 1694. It is now combined with the University of Wittenberg and called the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. The university's medical school was established by Friedrich Hoffmann. Its botanical garden, the Botanische Garten der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, dates back to 1698. Halle's German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina is the oldest and one of the most respected scientific societies in Germany.[citation needed] Halle is also home to Germany's oldest Protestant church library, known as the Marienbibliothek [de], with 27,000 titles.[citation needed] The seat of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, one of the world's largest social anthropological research institutions and a part of the Max Planck Society, is in Halle.

Halle was a centre of German Pietism and played an important role in establishing the Lutheran church in North America, when Henry Muhlenberg and others were sent as missionaries to Pennsylvania in the mid-18th century. Muhlenberg is now called the first Patriarch of the Lutheran Church in America. He and his son, Frederick Muhlenberg, who was the first Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, were graduates of Halle University.

The Silver Treasure of the Halloren is displayed occasionally at the Technical Museum Saline. It is a unique collection of silver and gold goblets dating back to 1266. The ancient craft of "Schausieden" (boiling of the brine) can be observed there too. The State Museum of Prehistory houses the Nebra sky disk, a significant (though unproven) Bronze-Age find with astronomical significance.

Halle Zoo contributes to the EAZA breeding programme, in particular for the Angolan lion and the Malaysian tiger. Halle is also known for its thriving coypu (or nutria) population, which is native to South America.

With writers such as Heine, Eichendorff, Schleiermacher, Tieck and Novalis the town was a vibrant scene of the German Romanticism. Also Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a regular guest at the house of his close friend Johann Friedrich Reichardt.

German-American expressionist painter Lyonel Feininger worked in Halle on an invitation by the city from 1929 to 1931. As one of eleven views of the city termed Halle Cycle, he painted in 1931 Die Türme über der Stadt[17] (The towers above the city), which is now in the Museum Ludwig in Cologne.[18] This painting appeared on a 55 eurocent stamp on 5 December 2002 as a part of the series "Deutsche Malerei des 20. Jahrhunderts" (German painting of the 20th century).[19]

Transport history[edit]

Ludwig Wucherer made Halle an important rail hub in central Germany. In 1840 he opened the Magdeburg-Halle-Leipzig line, completing a connection between Magdeburg and Dresden. From 1841 to 1860, other lines to Erfurt, Kassel and Berlin followed.

The centrepiece of Halle's urban public transport system is the Halle (Saale) tramway network. It includes the world's first major electric-powered inner-city tram line, which was opened in 1891.[20] Halle (Saale) Hauptbahnhof is the main railway station.

Halle's prominence as a railway centre grew with the arrival of the Erfurt-Leipzig/Halle high-speed railway. Leipzig is also connected to this route, but since it is mostly a terminus station (the Leipzig City Tunnel, opened in 2013, is mostly used by suburban S-Bahn trains and unsuitable for the high-speed network) and the route via Halle is shorter, Halle is used as an intermediate stop by many Berlin-Munich trains.

Leipzig/Halle Airport (opened in 1927) is an international airport located in Schkeuditz, Saxony, and serves both Leipzig, Saxony, and Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. As of 2018 it is Germany's 11th largest airport by passengers, handling more than 2.57 million mainly with flights to European leisure destinations. In terms of cargo traffic, the airport is the fifth-busiest in Europe and the second-busiest in Germany after Frankfurt Airport.


Erdgas Sportpark home of Hallescher FC

The football team Hallescher FC Wacker 1900 had some regional importance before World War II. In the German Championship Wacker reached the semi-finals in 1921, and the quarter-finals in 1928. The successor team became East German champions in 1949 and 1952 under the names of ZSG Union and BSG Turbine Halle. From these evolved today's Turbine Halle and Hallescher FC. In the era of the German Democratic Republic, the latter club (as Chemie Halle ) was a mainstay in the first division and won the Cup tournament in 1956 and 1962. The most prominent player was 72-times international Bernd Bransch, who was with Chemie in the 1960s and 1970s. These days, Hallescher FC usually plays in the third division.

The general sports club SV Halle [de], originating from Chemie Halle, created a notable number of Olympic gold medallists and world champions, mainly in nautical and watersports, e.g., swimmer Kornelia Ender won four Olympic gold medals in 1976 and Andreas Hajek won four rowing world championships between 1998 and 2001. The basketball team of the club – these days known as Lions and focusing on the woman's team which plays in the national first division – won five men's and 10 women's championships of the German Democratic Republic. The Hallescher FC's location is extremely close to a train station.

Notable people[edit]

Public service[edit]

Hans-Dietrich Genscher, 1978
Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, 1852
Johann Friedrich Struensee


Karl Freiherr von Müffling, pre 1837


Friedrich Hoffmann


statue of Georg Friedrich Händel in Market Square, Halle
August Lafontaine


Ulrich Wehling, 1976

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

Halle is twinned with:[34][35]

Friendly cities[edit]

Halle also has friendly relations with:[34]

Around Halle[edit]

Nearby towns[edit]

Halle (Saale) and Leipzig are the two centres of the Central German Metropolitan Region with more than 2.4 million people.

Rivalry with Magdeburg[edit]

Magdeburg, which is the 2nd largest city in Saxony-Anhalt and its state capital has a big rivalry with Halle since the founding of this federal state (Bundesland). Both cities have similar numbers of population with differences like 1,000 people and Magdeburg is about 100 km (62.137 miles) away from Halle. Both cities define itselves as the best city of this state and had also rivalry between both football clubs, where both ultras beat each other at the 3. Liga time.


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  35. ^ "Hauptausschuss für Städtepartnerschaft mit Gjumri in Armenien". dubisthalle.de (in German). Du bist Halle. 20 May 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2021.


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