The Augustusplatz is a square located at the east end of the city centre of Leipzig. It is the city's largest square and one of the largest (and, prior to almost all its buildings being destroyed in bombing in the Second World War, the most beautiful) squares in Europe. It is also part of the city's inner-city ring-road and a central hub for its tram network.
The history of today's square began in 1785 on a site within the city walls as the Platz vor dem Grimmaischen Thor to designs by the city architect Johann Carl Friedrich Dauthe. It was renamed Augustusplatz in 1839 after Frederick Augustus, the first king of Saxony. In 1928 the social-democratic city government renamed it Karl-Marx-Platz, though this name proved unpopular and was ignored even in newspaper articles and town plans. In 1933 the Nazis renamed it Augustusplatz, then in 1953 it became Karl-Marx-Platz again, and finally in 1990 (on the day of German reunification) it returned to its current name of Augustusplatz.
It is now dominated by the Opernhaus on its northern edge, the Neues Gewandhaus (with the Mendebrunnen) on southern side, and the main buildings of the University of Leipzig, including the City-Hochhaus Leipzig on the western side bordering the city centre. Destruction during the Second World War and the radical city-planning policies of the GDR both mean the Augustusplatz has lost its historical appearance: the now closed Hauptpost, the newly built Radisson SAS Hotel (former names: Hotel Mercure, Interhotel am Ring, Hotel Deutschland) and the university complex are all built mainly of concrete and steel in the style of the 1960s or later. In May 1968, for example, the bomb-damaged Augusteum and the university church that had suffered little damage (Paulinerkirche) were both dynamited. From 4 September 1989 to 1990, Monday demonstrations took place. From 1996 to 1998 an underground car park was built under the Augustusplatz with many entrances and ventilation shafts leading on to the square, the construction of which proved controversial. The carpark's eight illuminated glass cylinders housing the stairwells have been mocked in particular, being nicknamed "Milchtöpfe" or milk-bottles.
The construction of the university's new main building or Paulinum involved a fierce controversy over the possible reconstruction of the university church between 2002 and 2004 . Although completion of the complex was hoped for in 2009 for the university's 600th anniversary, the university now expects it to be reached in 2013. With its auditorium and the gabled roof it recalls the style of the former Augusteum and the demolished church. The Augustusplatz was mostly redesigned to plans by the architect Erick van Egeraat.