Leipzig is the most populous city in the federal state of Saxony, Germany. With a population of 582,277 inhabitants (1.1 million residents in the larger urban zone) it is Germany's tenth most populous city. Leipzig is located about 160 kilometres (99 mi) southwest of Berlin at the confluence of the White Elster, Pleisse, and Parthe rivers at the southern end of the North German Plain.
Leipzig has been a trade city since at least the time of the Holy Roman Empire. The city sits at the intersection of the Via Regia and Via Imperii, two important medieval trade routes. Leipzig was once one of the major European centers of learning and culture in fields such as music and publishing. Leipzig became a major urban center within the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) after the Second World War, but its cultural and economic importance declined.
Leipzig later played a significant role in instigating the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, through events which took place in and around St. Nicholas Church. Since the reunification of Germany, Leipzig has undergone significant change with the restoration of some historical buildings, the demolition of others, and the development of a modern transport infrastructure. Leipzig today is an economic center and the most livable city in Germany, according to the GfK marketing research institution. Leipzig Zoological Garden is one of the most modern zoos in Europe and ranks first in Germany and second in Europe according to Anthony Sheridan. Since the opening of the Leipzig City Tunnel in 2013, Leipzig forms the centerpiece of the S-Bahn Mitteldeutschland public transit system. Leipzig is currently listed as Gamma World City and Germany's "Boomtown".
Oper Leipzig is one of the most prominent opera houses in Germany, and traces its establishment to the year 1693, making it the third oldest opera venue in Europe after La Fenice (Venice, Italy) and the Hamburg State Opera (Hamburg, Germany). The famous University of Music and Theatre "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" is located in this city. It was during his stay in this city that Friedrich Schiller wrote the famous Ode to Joy.