Auerbachs Keller


Europe, Germany, Leipzig

Auerbachs Keller (Auerbach's Cellar in English) is the best known and second oldest restaurant in Leipzig. It was described in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Faust I, as the first place Mephistopheles takes Faust on their travels. Auerbach's Cellar is located below the Mädlerpassage, a shopping arcade, at Grimmaische Straße 2 in Leipzig's historical district near the market. It has four historical dining rooms; the Fasskeller (Barrel Cellar), Lutherzimmer (Luther Room), Goethezimmer (Goethe Room), Alt-Leipzig (Old Leipzig), and since 1913 the Großer Keller (Large Cellar). There is also the Mephisto Bar on the floor above available for drinks. The restaurant owes much of its fame to Goethe, who frequented Auerbach's Cellar as a student and called it his favorite wine bar. According to legend, the alchemist Dr. Johann Georg Faust once rode a wine barrel from the cellar to the street at Auerbach's Cellar, something he could have accomplished only with the help of the Devil. This legend is most likely what led Goethe to add the scene in Auerbach's Cellar to his play Faust I. The wine bar was first mentioned in a historical record dated 1438. Its present name comes from the original owner, the Leipzig city councilor, professor of medicine and rector of Leipzig University Dr. Heinrich Stromer, who was familiarly called Dr. Auerbach after his birthplace, the town of Auerbach in Germany's Upper Palatinate region. He was the personal physician of the Prince-Elector of Saxony, who gave him the right to establish the wine bar in gratitude for faithful services. Although it was one of the city’s most important wine bars already in the 16th century, its worldwide popularity is primarily due to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe often visited Auerbach’s Cellar while studying in Leipzig 1765-1768, and saw there two paintings on wood dating from 1625, one depicting the magician and astrologer Faust drinking with students and the other showing him riding out the door astride a wine barrel. Goethe was already familiar with the Faust legend from his youth, since a puppet show Dr. Faust, was frequently performed at local street fairs. The scene Auerbach’s Cellar in Leipzig in his drama Faust I is his literary memorial to his student tavern and to the city, albeit an ironic one. Between 1912 and 1913 much of Auerbach’s Cellar was reconstructed and expanded as part of the demolition of the medieval construction above it and the erection of the Mädlerpassage. It was reopened on 22 February 1913, which is also the date when the two sculptures Mephisto and Faust and Bewitched Students were placed at the entrance of the wine bar. These were cast by Traugott Noack (1865–1941) at his Bronze Fine Art Foundry Noack, which he established in 1899.