There are about 250,000 people in Chemnitz at the moment. It used to be called Karl Marx Stadt under DDR times.
It is a fairly industrial city with VW and other industry. It is trying to position itself as a high tech city, and its Technical university is in prime position to solidify this. The uni itself is quite large with over 10,000 students and growing. (And apparently free to attend. Whether German or foreign!)
The city itself has lost a lot of its population since the wall fell, and last year is the first year that it grew. About 150 people all told! Still, if this is the new trend then people will start moving back. Especially as it is a lot more expensive to live in the west than the east.
There is one big housing company the GGG that took over from the fall of communism, and it has all the old (1960’s) style buildings. However it has been demolishing the bad ones to create parks and parking. Still it has over 30,000 vacant units. Then there are all the private buildings.
Although the city is industrial, it does have a good feel about it. There is always something happening in the town square, and plenty of pubs and clubs around. We have never felt unsafe walking around, even though you see some of its 11% unemployed drinking beer at 10 in the morning. So I am having Vodka at 11! There is a lot of graffiti on the buildings, and street fixtures, but surprisingly most of this is Anti Nazi! The rest is just tagging. A bit disappointing, but not unusual in any city. Apparently there is a large nazi population in the city, but most of them live in the suburbs. There is also a big Punk movement and everything else in between.
The city is fairly well spaced out, with industrial areas, shopping, and living. There is one of the biggest collection of Jugendstil buildings in Germany. These are build around the turn of the 20th Century. 1890 – 1910ish. And although it has been a city since the 11th century, this was one of the periods it did really well, and the architecture shows it. Having said that, it is not Leipzig, Dresden or Berlin. But it has its own charm. Kassberg is the place for this, and the entire suburb has almost been renovated. There is Sonnenberg which has some beautiful buildings as well, and this is more the working class area. Then Schloss-Chemnitz. Around the castle region, and other suburbs. They all have a wide variety of building types from the over the top ornate, through to the GGG “60’s” housing blocks (It looks like social housing, but is for anyone).
There is a nice canal running through the city, and a large park on one side of it. This is a very social area, and you always see the very active german people out on bikes, roller blades, walking, jogging etc through here. The same with the parks around the uni. There is always a soccer game, or volleyball, basketball and even tennis happening. Usually all of them. Too active for us.