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Picture: February 1999


Halle die Stadt
have been working in Halle during 1998-1999. Before arriving there, I did not even know the name of Halle, and I think that many people outside Germany do not know it either. Therefore, below is a brief outlook of the city, with some facts and personal impressions.
Various and more detailed information can be found from the Home page of Halle.

The first time I saw the name Halle, it was associated with the Max Planck Institut für Mikrostrukturphysik, at the top of scientific publications. The content of these publications convinced me that I should come to Halle, and only afterwards did I inquire about the city, from post-doc fellows visiting Grenoble. I was described the city as being ugly, and heavily polluted from cars and the chemical industry... which this was a bit exagerated for the cars, and things have changed for the industry.


alle is located 150km south-west of Berlin and 40km north-west of Leipzig, in the former republic of East-Germany. Dresden and Weimar are not far either. At the time of the former communist East-Germany, the area of Halle-Leipzig was primarily devoted to the chemical industry. A joke says that at that time anything could have been hidden from the spy satellites from the west, because a pollution cloud was always capping the region. Fortunately, many plants have been shut down since 1989 because they were far too obsolete and polluting according to west-standards. Besides, many formerly-nice buildings that were in a bad shape after the 1945-1990 period have been renovated by now. Halle is again a very nice city to live in, not only from the environmental point of view, but also from the musical point of view, mainly inherited from its rich and long history.


he origin of the name Halle is not clear, but the name may mean the place were people work the salt. Indeed the origins of Halle are related to salt mining, and as salt was rare in the middle ages, Halle was somewhat wealthy and prosperous. As a consequence, it was given the right to have its own market and raise taxes, as soon as 984 AD.
Between 1418 and 1506 was erected the then only detached bell tower (Roter Turm) in Germany, which is nowadays still standing (rebuilt after WWII) at the center on the town, on the market place.
On february 23rd, 1685, Georg Friedrich Händel is born in Halle. He is now the symbol of the musical liveliness Halle. His birthplace has been converted to a Händel museum after WWII. Conferences and chamber music concerts are often organized there. There is also a yearly Händel festival in June.

The islands on the Saale

he Saale river runs lasily through Halle (see a map), giving rise to large and flat islands. Fortunately, nearly no buildings are found on these islands, and cars are mainly forbidden there. The islands are therefore huge parks and playgrounds very close to the center of the city. For people working in the Max-Planck-Institut (Weinberg on the map), it is very nice and convenient to live downtown, as the institute can be reached by bicycle through these parks. Many bridges interconnect the islands (see above picture).

Some links: