The Mädler Passage offers what few buildings can, by bringing to life so impressively the architectural and historical grandeur of the renowned exhibition hub and trading centre that is Leipzig City. The history of this most significant of arcades was mostly shaped by two forward-thinking Leipzig business men, Dr. Heinrich Stromer von Auerbach and Anton Mädler, who succeeded in making the arcade the world-famous attraction it is today. Both men moulded the building in their own way and in their own era.
In 1525, Stromer von Auerbach, rector of Leipzig University, opened a wine bar in the Waldheim-Hummelhain courtyard. And because the business was so successful, he decided, five years later, to build the stately “Auerbach’s Hof” (or “Auberbach’s Courtyard”) exhibition hall in the same place. The existing cellar vaults were maintained and further used as a wine parlour.
In 1625, for the location’s 100-year anniversary, a relative of Stromer von Auerbach, council member Johann Vetzer, commissioned the restructuring of the exhibition hall. He wanted to create a new attraction in the wine cellar and hired the painter Andreas Brettschneider to produce two murals portraying the legend of Dr. Faustus. One panel features Faustus riding away upon a wine cask. The other shows him drinking with students in a Leipzig tavern. These paintings were dated “1525” in reference to the year these word-of-mouth events took place, and they became forevermore associated with Auerbach’s Cellar. This afforded the establishment increased notoriety which turned into global fame thanks to Goethe’s Faust.
In 1587, Ulrich Groß described the cellar vault in glowing terms: “A magnificent building! It has been built with so many stately vaults, chambers and halls - occupied by Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Nurnbergers and other such noble tradespeople - with so many goods and such wonderful merchandise, that it must be compared with the most revered of markets”.
By the end of the 19th century, Auerbach’s Hof had established itself as a leading exhibition hall. The building changed hands numerous times, with Count Lindenau von Machern and the Countess von Veltheim among the owners. Auerbach’s Cellar also continued to flourish: thanks to its enduring architectural and artistic prestige, it attracted increasing numbers of visitors.
On January 1, 1911, commercial councillor Anton Mädler, the owner of the Moritz Mädler suitcase and bag factory, acquired Auberbach’s Hof along with several adjoining properties. When Mädler’s plans to carry out a modern renovation became public, calls to preserve Auberbach’s Cellar came from all across the globe. Mädler was an idealist and, at great effort and expense, he incorporated the traditional cellar into the new structure, while enlarging the cellar structure in process.
The rebuilding of the first branch of the arcade in the Grimmaische Straße started in 1912. Two years later, a construction phase followed, with the building of the rotunda and the extension of the arcade up to Neumarkt. The Mädler-Passage was henceforth used as an exhibition hall hosting porcelain, wine and leather fairs. This tradition continued during the GDR regime.
Interestingly, the Mädler-Passage was never expropriated by the GDR authorities – instead Leipzig’s trade fair commission administered the site as trustee. With the construction of the exhibition hall at the market between 1963 and 1965, the Mädler-Passage was given a third entrance on the Peterstraße. Anton Mädler had already had the same idea but was unable to realise the plan during his tenure due to his inability to purchase the necessary premises.
In the wake of German unification, the heiresses to Anton Mädler’s estate were able assert their family’s rights to the Mädler Passage. In 1995, after concluding a business collaboration with Jürgen Schneider’s real estate group, the “Mädler-Passage Leipzig Grundstück GmbH & Co. KG” company began work on the large-scale renovation and restoration of the arcade, with the involvement of Anton Mädler’s family. By 1997, the entirety of the structure, including Auerbach’s Cellar, had been successfully renovated in line with its former historical grandeur. Today, the Mädler Passage is once again among the most frequently visited and attractive shopping arcades in the world.
The Mädler Passage is a world-class architectural treasure located right in the centre of Leipzig. Be sure not to miss any of its architectural detail by taking a full tour of the building. Our architecture page contains detailed descriptions of the refined and historical arcade structure.
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„A commercial space in the Mädler Passage is not just a space - it is part of Leipzig’s historical prestige"
Anke Beesch, Unit Manager at Mädler Passage, Leipzig