HALLE (known as Halle-an-der-Saale, to distinguish it from the small town of Halle in Westphalia), a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Saxony, situated in a sandy plain on the right bank of the Saale, which here divides into several arms, 21 m. N.W. from Leipzig by the railway to Magdeburg. Pop. (1875), 60,503; (1885) 81,982; (1895) 116,304; (1905) 160,031. Owing to its situation at the junction of six important lines of railway, bringing it into direct communication with Berlin, Breslau, Leipzig, Frankfort-on-Main, the Harz country and Hanover, it has greatly developed in size and in commercial and industrial importance. It consists of the old, or inner, town surrounded by promenades, which occupy the site of the former fortifications, and beyond these of two small towns, Glaucha in the south and Neumarkt in the north, and five rapidly increasing suburbs. The inner town is irregularly built and presents a somewhat unattractive appearance, but it has been much improved and modernized by the laying out of new streets.
The centre of the town proper is occupied by the imposing market square, on which stand the fine medieval town hall (restored in 1883) and the handsome Gothic Marienkirche, dating mainly from the 16th century, with two towers connected by a bridge. In the middle of the square are a clock-tower (Der rote Turm) 276 ft. in height, and a bronze statue of Handel, the composer, a native of Halle. West of the market-square lies the Halle, or the Tal, where the brine springs (see below) issue. Among the eleven churches, nine Protestant and two Roman Catholic, may also be mentioned the St Moritzkirche, dating from the 12th century, with fine wood carvings and sculptures, and the cathedral (belonging since 1689 to the Reformed or Calvinistic church), built in the 16th century and containing an altar-piece representing Duke Augustus of Saxony and his family. Of secular buildings the most noticeable are the ruins of the castle of Moritzburg, formerly a citadel and the residence of the archbishops of Magdeburg, destroyed by fire in the Thirty Years’ War, with the exception of the left wing now used for military purposes, the university buildings, the theatre and the new railway station. The famous university was founded by the elector Frederick III. of Brandenburg (afterwards king of Prussia), in 1694, on behalf of the jurist, Christian Thomasius (1655–1728), whom many students followed to Halle, when he was expelled from Leipzig through the enmity of his fellow professors. It was closed by Napoleon in 1806 and again in 1813, but in 1815 was re-established and augmented by the removal to it of the university of Wittenberg, with which it thus became united. It has faculties of theology, law, medicine and philosophy. From the first it has been recognized as one of the principal seats of Protestant theology, originally of the pietistic and latterly of the rationalistic and critical school. In connexion with the university there are a botanical garden, a theological seminary, anatomical, pathological and physical institutes, hospitals, an agricultural institute—one of the foremost institutions of the kind in Germany—a meteorological institute, an observatory and a library of 180,000 printed volumes and 800 manuscripts. Among other educational establishments must be mentioned the Francke’sche Stiftungen, founded in 1691 by August Hermann Francke (1663–1727), a bronze statue of whom by Rauch was erected in 1829 in the inner court of the building. They embrace an orphanage, a laboratory where medicines are prepared and distributed, a Bible press from which Bibles are issued at a cheap rate, and eight schools of various grades, attended in all by over 3000 pupils. The other principal institutions are the city gymnasium, the provincial lunatic asylum, the prison, the town hospital and infirmary, and the deaf and dumb institute. The salt-springs of Halle have been known from a very early period. Some rise within the town and others on an island in the Saale; and together their annual yield of salt is about 8500 tons.
The workmen employed at the salt-works are of a peculiar race and are known as the Halloren. They have been usually regarded as descendants of the original Wendish inhabitants, or as Celtic immigrants, with an admixture of Frankish elements. They wear a distinct dress, the ordinary costume of about 1700, observe several ancient customs, and enjoy certain exemptions and privileges derived from those of the ancient Pfannerschaft (community of the salt-panners).
Among the other industries of Halle are sugar refining, machine building, the manufacture of spirits, malt, chocolate, cocoa, confectionery, cement, paper, chicory, lubricating and illuminating oil, wagon grease, carriages and playing cards, printing, dyeing and coal mining (soft brown coal). The trade, which is supervised by a chamber of commerce, is very considerable, the principal exports being machinery, raw sugar and petroleum. Halle is also noted as the seat of several important publishing firms. The Bibelanstalt (Bible institution) of von Castein is the central authority for the revision of Luther’s Bible, of which it sells annually from 60,000 to 70,000 copies.
Halle is first mentioned as a fortress erected on the Saale in 806 by Charles, son of Charlemagne, during his expedition against the Sorbs. The place was, however, known long before, and owes its origin as well as its name to the salt springs (Halis). In 968 Halle, with the valuable salt works, was given by the emperor Otto I. to the newly founded archdiocese of Magdeburg, and in 981 Otto II. gave it a charter as a town. The interests of the archbishop were watched over by a Vogt (advocatus) and a burgrave, and from the first there were separate jurisdictions for the Halloren and the German settlers in the town, the former being under that of the Salzgraf (comes salis), the latter of a Schultheiss or bailiff, both subordinate to the burgrave. The conflict of interests and jurisdictions led to the usual internecine strife during the middle ages. The panners (Pfänner) of the Tal, feudatories or officials, became a close hereditary aristocracy in perpetual rivalry with the gilds in the town; and both resisted the pretensions of the archbishops. At the beginning of the 12th century Halle had attained considerable importance, and in the 13th and 14th centuries as a member of the Hanseatic League it carried on successful wars with the archbishops of Magdeburg; and in 1435 it resisted an army of 30,000 men under the elector of Saxony. Its liberty perished, however, as a result of the internal feud between the democratic gilds and the patrician panners. On the 20th of September 1478 a demagogue and cobbler named Jakob Weissak, a member of the town council, with his confederates opened the gates to the soldiers of the archbishop. The townsmen were subdued, and to hold them in check the archbishop, Ernest of Saxony, built the castle of Moritzburg. Notwithstanding the efforts of the archbishops of Mainz and Magdeburg, the Reformation found an entrance into the city in 1522; and in 1541 a Lutheran superintendent was appointed. After the peace of Westphalia in 1648 the city came into the possession of the house of Brandenburg. In 1806 it was stormed and taken by the French, after which, at the peace of Tilsit, it was united to the new kingdom of Westphalia. After the battle between the Prussians and French, in May 1813, it was taken by the Prussians. The rise of Leipzig was for a long time hurtful to the prosperity of Halle, and its present rapid increase in population and trade is principally due to its position as the centre of a network of railways.
See Dreyhaupt, Ausführliche Beschreibung des Saalkreises (Halle, 2 vols., 1755; 3rd edition, 1842–1844); Hoffbauer, Geschichte der Universität zu Halle (1806); Halle in Vorzeit und Gegenwart (1851); Knauth, Kurze Geschichte und Beschreibung der Stadt Halle (3rd ed., 1861); vom Hagen, Die Stadt Halle (1866–1867); Hertzberg, Geschichte der Vereinigung der Universitäten von Wittenberg und Halle (1867); Voss, Zur Geschichte der Autonomie der Stadt Halle (1874); Schrader, Geschichte der Friedrichs-Universität zu Halle (Berlin, 1894); Karl Hegel, Städte und Gilden der germanischen Völker (Leipzig, 1891), ii. 444–449.