Schlesischer Tippelmarkt 2017

The Schlesischer Tippelmarkt in Görlitz is a Silesian pottery market where pottery makers from all over Germany come to show and sell their creations. There’s an incredible variety of different styles of pottery, something for everyone – from traditional to more modern looking pottery in many different colors & forms.

Silesia is an ethnic region that lies in present day Germany, Poland and Czech Republic. The city of Görlitz is in Lower Silesia, the Silesian flag is proudly displayed at the Tippelmarkt.

Source: Wikipedia

Tippel is the way they say Töpfe in the Silesian dialect. Töpfe means pottery in German.

Not interested in pottery? No problem! The Tippelmarkt has a lot more to offer – beginning with the traditional opening of the Tippelmarkt, when people in traditional dress, the pottery makers and the Landskron-Herolde parade down Brüderstraße. The traditional opening includes music, canon-fire, skits and Silesian dialect. I found the entire procession & opening ceremony extremely cute and entertaining.

This cute family in traditional clothes headed up the parade at the traditional opening.
The Landskron Heralds (Landskron is the local brewery in Görlitz)
Silesian Flag at the 19th Schlesischer Tippelmarkt

In addition to beautiful pottery and cultural traditions, there are -of course! – delicious things to eat and drink at the Tippelmarkt in Görlitz. There is also a program filled with scheduled performances by Silesian dance groups and musicians.

The drums were too loud for this little boy in traditional outfit

Watch this video I made of impressions from the opening ceremonies of the Tippelmarkt.

The Rathaus (Town hall) on the Untermarkt in Görlitz

This is a little souvenir I purchased at the Tippelmarkt with something written in Silesian dialect – in standard German it would be Daheim ist am schönsten. In English this means “at home is the nicest” or something like “home, sweet home”. I look forward to hanging it in my new home…someday!

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Each year the Schlesischer Tippelmarkt is celebrated in Görlitz with beautiful handmade creations & fascinating Silesian traditions. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience it yourself while you are in Görlitz!

Barockhaus Görlitz

The beautiful Barockhaus in Görlitz is home to a cultural history museum and a stunning library. The building can be found on the southeast corner of the Untermarkt and was a major trade and residential home from the baroque period. I have been meaning to visit this place and finally had the chance to this week – it’s beautiful, fascinating, and absolutely worth a stop when you are in Görlitz!

Barockhaus Baroque House Görlitz Museum

The house was built in 1729, after two breweries which stood in its place burned during a city fire. Brewing rights were only granted to the privileged at the time, so many wealthy & important citizens brewed beer. The new building was built according to new fire safety regulations for a rich canvas and damask trader from Zittau named Christian Ameiss. The house was built in the style of a Leipzig “Durchhaus”, a house with a central courtyard that goes all the way through from front to back. On the first floor of the museum you can see the home as it would have looked while the Ameiss family was living there, with beautiful baroque furnishings and artifacts. Especially lovely are the colored stucco ceilings.

In 1779 the house was acquired by Karl Gottlob von Anton, the co-founder of the Upper Lusatian Society of Sciences. It became the seat of the society in 1804 and their library and vast collections have been preserved since then. It was also home to the Freemason’s Lodge Zur gekrönten Schlange (To the crowned serpent). On the second floor you can find a “black room” used by the Freemason’s for their initiation rites, as well as many rooms full of the collections of the society members which include antique scientific instruments, illustrations, textiles, coins and archaeological finds.

Barockhaus Baroque House Görlitz Museum

The Barockhaus is also home to the most extensive library between Dresden and Wrocław and one of the most beautiful libraries that I’ve ever seen! The library has 140,000 volumes with numerous rarities and treasures, including medieval manuscripts and incunabula, which are the earliest printed books before 1501.

Barockhaus Baroque House Görlitz Upper Lusatian Science Library

The library was established by the Upper Lusatian Society of Sciences, whose members felt that the region was lacking in great libraries. They wanted to promote learning and science in Upper Lusatia and so the members donated books from their private collections. Also housed in the library is the collection of a man named Johan Gottlieb Milich, who died in 1726 without heirs and left his library to Görlitz with the stipulation that his collection be made available for public use.

The oldest book in the library’s collection is a handwritten codex from the 11th century. The library also has an extensive collection of Jakob Böhme’s works, a famous mystic who lived in Görlitz.  During WWII many important works were transferred to the eastern part of Görlitz, across the Neiße River, for protection from air raids. After the war ended, this area that was once Germany became Poland and the books were not returned to the library. You can now find many of these important works in Wrocław. In 1945 the Upper Lusatian Society of Sciences was dissolved by the Soviets. Since 1950 the house and its collections have been the property of the city of Görlitz.

The unique and beautiful large book hall was arranged with beech shelves in the middle of the room, instead of along the walls. This was meant to emulate the look of a stage. The only adornment in the room are the lovely old books, which are the stars of the show. Today the hall, characterized by its simplicity, is one of the most beautiful library spaces in the world!

Old Books German Bindings Barockhaus Görlitz Baroque House

This museum and especially the beautiful library are not to be missed! The museum in the Barockhaus is also English-friendly with most of the descriptions translated. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday and admission is €5. Currently there is a guided tour of the library every Monday at 11am. Find out more on their website. 

Nikolaivorstadt – Görlitz Neighborhoods

The Nikolaivorstadt is the oldest neighborhood in Görlitz located northwest of the old town. Even though it’s just minutes from the main sights it feels much more peaceful & relaxed. It’s my favorite area of Görlitz and the place where we have bought and are renovating our house! There are many beautiful & interesting sights in this neighborhood, which make it worthwhile to stray from the center during your visit to Görlitz to check some of them out.

Nikolaiturm

Nikolaiturm Görlitz tower

This tower was part of the city fortifications and protected the northern gate. Nikolaiturm is 45m high (about 148 ft) and has a copper top. The first mention of the tower was in 1348 and until 1903 a tower guard lived inside the tower on the top floor, ringing the bell whenever there was trouble, such as a city fire.

The tower is open to visitors from April to December on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month. Tours are at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm and last 45 minutes. The price is of entry is €4. Inside the tower there is an interesting museum and they have kept the apartment furnished to look like it did when someone lived there. Once on top you will have a beautiful view of Görlitz. There are also four other towers in Görlitz that you can visit.

Nikolaizwinger

This garden path leads from the east side of the Peterskirche to the Nikolaiturm. The Nikolaizwinger was the area between the double city walls. The northern gate to the city stood between the Nikolaiturm and the present day Nikolaizwinger. In 1954 the space was converted into a green park, making it a peaceful place to sit or go for a walk. It’s usually many degrees cooler than the old town due to the shade.

Nikolaizwinger Görlitz Nikolaizwinger Görlitz

Hotherturm

The Hotherturm is also along the Nikolaizwinger. It was built in the 13th century and is the only remaining corner bastion of the 30 that once lined the city’s fortifications. The tower can be visited during the Scharfrichterführung (executioner’s tour) from March-October biweekly on Fridays at 5pm. The cost is €5.

Hotherturm Görlitz Hother tower bastion

Finstertor & Scharfrichterhaus

Finstertor Görlitz

The Finstertor (dark gate), also known as Armesündertor (poor sinners’ gate) was part of the fortification of mud walls and fences protecting the Nikolaivorstadt and the last part of this wall remaining in Görlitz. It was first mentioned in 1455 and its name was due to the fact that condemned criminals would pass through the gate on their way to execution.

The Scharfrichterhaus, or executioner’s house, sits next to the Finstertor and is the only fully preserved half-timbered house in Görlitz. The outside of the house bears a sandstone tablet with the inscription “In the year of Christ 1676 LxSxB”. The initials refer to the executioner Lorenz Straßburger, who lived in the house at that time.

The Scharfrichterhaus can also be viewed in conjunction with the Scharfrichterführung.

Scharfrichterhaus Görlitz Finstertor

The executioner in Görlitz didn’t only perform executions and torture criminals. It was also his task to remove dead livestock from the city, and using the scavenged parts of the animal to earn money, as well as “taking care” of stray dogs and cleaning filth from the streets. Because of this experience with animals, the executioner typically had a lot of anatomical knowledge and were called upon by the city people when they needed a surgeon for their animals and even for themselves.  Still, the executioner remained a dishonorable position and he was required to live at the city gates, to wear a green hat and wasn’t permitted to enter taverns. It was also considered inappropriate to marry the children of an executioner.

Nikolaikirche & Friedhof

Nikolaikirche Görlitz Church

One of the oldest churches in the city, the Nikolaikirche hasn’t been used as a church in many years – instead it’s home to an expressionist style memorial to the city’s fallen soldiers in WWI. Beside this church is an amazing cemetery with elaborate gravestones & crypts dating back as far as the 1300s. The graveyard is free to enter and visitors can enter the church March through October with a €2 entrance fee.

Read more about the Nikolaikirche here.

Read more about the Nikolaifriedhof here.

Spielzeugmuseum

Spielzeugmuseum Görlitz Toy Museum

The Spielzeugmuseum in Nikolaivorstadt has a collection of antique toys, as well as a permanent exhibit on toys from the GDR. They also have crafting events for children.

The toy museum in Görlitz is open Wednesday through Friday 10-1pm and 2-4pm, weekends from 2-5pm. Entry costs €3 for adults and €1.50 for children.

Heiliges Grab

Heiliges Grab Görlitz Holy Grave

This monument in Görlitz is a replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem built by a wealthy merchant in the 1500s after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It’s just one stop from the Stations of the Cross. Each year on Easter a procession led by a man carrying a cross walks from the Peterskirche crypt to the Holy Grave.

Read more about the Heiliges Grab here.

Grand Budapest Görlitz

Last week I had a tour of the Brauner Hirsch (brown elk) in Görlitz, a massive former hotel on the Untermarkt that is now a popular filming location. Görlitz has acquired the nickname Görliwood because it’s featured so frequently in films. I always knew that the Kaufhaus in Görlitz was featured in the film The Grand Budapest Hotel directed by Wes Anderson, but I didn’t realize how many other scenes from the film also took place in Görlitz! I hurried home from the tour and finally watched the movie – yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d never seen it – and was shocked that almost every scene in the film was a place that I recognized from my new home town! This is a tour of the city of Görlitz, as seen in the film!

The most well-known scenes filmed in Görlitz were the interior shots of the Grand Budapest Hotel lobby, which were filmed inside the gorgeous Kaufhaus in Görlitz. There are plans to reopen it as a store in the future, but for now it is empty and visitors are welcome to view the inside for free Thursdays and Fridays 2pm-6pm and every 1st, 3rd & 5th Saturday in the month from 10-4.

An early scene where the author, played by Tom Wilkinson, is in his study was filmed inside the Brauner Hirsch in Görlitz. You can still see the funky wallpaper left behind by the film crew.

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The scene where Jopling, played by Willem Defoe, pays a visit to the sister with the wooden leg was filmed in the courtyard at the Brauner Hirsch in Görlitz.

This kitchen scene from inside Madame D’s (Tilda Swinton’s) palace was filmed inside the Brauner Hirsch in Görlitz.

Zero’s tiny room (played by Tony Revolori) at the Grand Budapest Hotel was also filmed inside the Brauner Hirsch in Görlitz.

Agatha’s room (played by Saoirse Ronan) in the attic above Mendl’s was filmed in the attic of the Brauner Hirsch in Görlitz.

A few bath scenes from The Grand Budapest Hotel were also filmed in the former baths of the Brauner Hirsch in Görlitz.

The interior shots of the convent in the film where shot inside the Dreifaltigkeitskirche on the Obermarkt in Görlitz. Click to read more about this beautiful church.

This scene of another hotel concierge was filmed in front of the Schönhof in Görlitz, a beautiful renaissance building that now houses the Silesian Museum.

This scene outside the convent was filmed in front of the Brauner Hirsch on the Untermarkt in Görlitz.

This enchanting carousel scene featuring the characters Agatha and Zero was filmed on Langenstraße in Görlitz, in front of the former restaurant Zum Flyn’s.

In this scene featuring the Lobby Boy, Zero, you can spot the Nikolaiturm in the background – I live just down the street from this tower.

This street scene where Agatha is riding her bike was filmed in the Fischmarkt in Görlitz. The building on the right is a great restaurant called Gambrinus and the tower is the Dreifaltigkeitskirche.

This scene was filmed on Bruderstraße, between the Obermarkt and Untermarkt in Görlitz. In the background you can see the Reichenbacher Turm.

This scene is several different buildings from the Untermarkt stitched together. On the left is the stairs to the town hall, in the center is the portal to the Ratsapotheke and on the right is the Scales building on the Untermarkt.

This scene inside the hotel Grand Budapest was filmed inside the Stadthalle in Görlitz.

In the beginning of the film when the girl is visiting the grave of the author, they show a wall which can be found on Bergstraße in Görlitz and the background features several of the city’s towers.

Nearby Filming Locations

There were also several locations in the film The Grand Budapest Hotel that can be found near Görlitz.

The scene when Zero and Agatha marry takes place in Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland National Park), which is a popular hiking destination near the border with the Czech Republic.

The scene with the lone phone booth in the middle of nowhere was filmed in the nearby Königshainer Berge.

The interior of the sweet shop Mendl’s where Agatha works was filmed inside the Molkerei in Dresden, a beautiful milk shop that is covered with hand-painted tiles.

When you visit Görlitz, it’s easy to see why it is such a popular location for films, The Grand Budapest Hotel being just one of many. It has a variety of well-preserved, historic buildings from all different time periods as well as some buildings that look “old”, in spite of many of the buildings having been restored. Görlitz is very proud of their nickname Görliwood and they go out of the way to make it easy and attractive for film makers to feature our beautiful city.

Tours of the Brauner Hirsch in Görlitz during the summer are offered on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 4pm. The price is €4 and it lasts about one hour.

The tourist office i-Vent also offers tours showing locations where movies and television shows were filmed in Görlitz. These tours are offered in German, check the website for more information. 

Churches of Görlitz

Some of the most beautiful and memorable sights in Görlitz are its churches! Görlitz has four beautiful pre-Reformation churches near the old town and several more in other neighborhoods:

Peterskirche

The most well-known church in Görlitz is the Peterskirche (Church of St. Peter and Paul), which towers over the Neiße river, its twin spires giving the city its unique silhouette.

This church is beautiful both inside and out, with its Baroque decorations and famous “sun” organ. Cross the Old Town bridge for a beautiful view of this church or climb the 131 steps up to a platform between the spires for a beautiful view west of the city. The church is free to visit and has frequent organ concerts. Click here to read more about the church, see pictures of the interior and hear the legend of the builder who plunged to his death from the roof because he was distracted by a pretty girl! 

Nikolaikirche

The Nikolaikirche is actually not a church anymore, but houses an art installation honoring the fallen in WWI. The real draw here is the amazing, historic graveyard surrounding this church which makes for a beautiful & peaceful walk through the history of Görlitz. Read more about the church and its graveyard here.  

Dreifaltigkeitskirche

Don’t let the outside of this church fool you! In my opinion, the Dreifaltigkeitskirche church has the most beautiful interior in the city. The church is free to visit! Click here to see pictures of the gorgeous interior and read the legend of the creepy monk who lived here and abducted a young girl…

Frauenkirche

This church is located right in the city center next to the famous Kaufhaus, the tram lines, and the shopping center. But the Frauenkirche has a fascinating history and used to be in a lot quieter surroundings, outside the city walls. Read more about its past and see pictures of the interior here!

Other churches in Görlitz:

These post-Reformation churches are located outside of the city center but are also beautiful and worth a look if you are in the neighborhood!

 

Frauenkirche – Churches in Görlitz

The Frauenkirche in Görlitz sits right in the center of the city, surrounded by the tram, the famous Kaufhaus and a shopping center. It wasn’t always in such a crowded spot, however. When the church was first built in the 1300s, it was outside of the city walls.

Frauenkirche in 1684 Source: Wikipedia

The Frauenkirche is the youngest of the pre-Reformation churches in Görlitz. The three-naved Protestant church was first likely a wood structure and then eventually rebuilt in late Gothic style.

In 1349, Görlitz asked a powerful local lord, Friedrich von Bieberstein, for help. He ruled over parts of Bohemia and had a castle in Friedland (now Frydlant in Czechia). The town of Görlitz needed help apprehending and arresting a “disturber of the peace” named Nitsche von Rackwitz. They asked the lord for help and it was promised, but when no help came, some armed citizens decided to take matters into their own hands.

They tracked down von Rackwitz and found him hiding on von Bieberstein’s lands. But when Bieberstein found out that the men from Görlitz were on his land, he declared them invaders and had them attacked by his men. Seven of the men from Görlitz died.

The city of Görlitz was very upset about this betrayal. After some back-and-forth, von Bieberstein decided to try to make amends by funding the building of a new church, the Frauenkirche. It would be a hospital church outside of the city walls with a graveyard. However, the money he gave was insufficient and the building stalled until the plague came along, making the completion of the church and its graveyard more urgent.

The Frauenkirche was never the most popular church in the city, the Peterskirche was inside the city walls and had a large congregation. However the church grew in importance after the extension of the city in 1840 to the south. The wall surrounding the church and the graveyard were removed to make way for the extension, a few gravestones remain on the outer church walls today.

In 1989 during the peaceful revolution in East Germany, the Frauenkirche was the first church in the city to hold prayers for peace, a weekly meeting of people on Monday who would meet and then march peacefully, protesting the East German government.

The church is very simple inside and out with three aisles, vaulted ceilings and high windows. The organ which was added in the 1970s had to be renovated recently. During renovations, 500 year old graffiti was found in the room behind the organ on the walls, probably left behind by pilgrims. They are similar to the markings on the Holy Grave in Görlitz, another popular place of pilgrimage.

Although the Frauenkirche isn’t the most beautiful church in Görlitz, it has a fascinating history and still has highly attended services and concerts. The church is open seven days a week until 6pm to visitors and entrance is free. Permission to take photographs costs €1.50.

Click here to find out more about the other historic churches in Görlitz! 

Peterskirche – Churches in Görlitz

The St. Peter and Paul Church is the most recognizable structure in Görlitz, towering over the Neiße and dominating the city’s silhouette with its twin spires. I’ve been fortunate enough to live directly across the street from this impressive structure – I get to listen to the church bells ringing to call people to services or organ concerts and see the colors of the sunset glowing on the church’s stones each evening.

There has been a church in this location on the Neiße river since the 11th century. It wasn’t until 1372 that it became the main church for the citizens of Görlitz, instead of the Nikolaikirche which was outside the city walls. In 1691 much of the late Gothic interior was destroyed in the fire and it was redecorated in Baroque style – these decorations are on display today, including ornate confessional cabinets which left the person giving confession exposed to public view. Instead of confessing to a clergyman, they confessed their sins to God in the Protestant style.

The church nearly escaped damage during World War II (as did most of Görlitz)- however some windows were blown out when the Wehrmacht detonated all of the bridges during their retreat at the end of the war.

Detail on a confessional

If you are willing to climb the 131 steps to the platform between the two spires, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Görlitz to the west. Be sure to go up in the morning for the best lighting. The 84 meter high spires, which give the church its distinctive silhouette, were added in 1891.

The famous Sun Organ inside the church was built in 1703 by Eugenio Casparini and features 18 sun faces around which the organ pipes radiate. The original organ had to be retired due to wear and tear in 1979 and a very close replica was created in 2006 thanks to donations. The church hosts frequent organ concerts – check the bulletin board outside for a chance to hear it played.

When visiting old churches it’s really important to pay attention to the details. They are filled with symbolism and every figure has a meaning or a story. Every time I point my camera lens at this church, inside or out, I find new and fascinating details. It’s said that this iron neck chain on the east side of the church exterior was used until the middle of the 17th century to publicly humiliate wrongdoers. Directly above you can see stone carvings of a pig and a monkey, perhaps symbols for human failings.

On the east side of the church on the river is the lower church, or the crypt, named after St. George (Georgenkappele), which and built in 1457. The crypt has beautiful vaulted ceilings and a recently revealed fresco painting of Christ and his 12 disciples. The decision was made to leave it as it was found instead of trying to restore it. The crypt is called the Winter Church because it’s the only part of the church that can be heated – services are held here in the winter. Every year on Good Friday a procession begins here in the crypt where they reenact the stations of the cross – a man along with a procession, carries a cross to the Heiliges Grab in Görlitz, a replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem built in the the late Middle Ages.

There is a legend about a man who was working on the roof of the Peterskirche. He stopped to look at a pretty girl below and distracted, he lost his footing. As he fell, he wedged his axe into a nearby beam in an attempt to hang on for dear life. The townspeople came with feather beds below to try to cushion his fall, but in his anxiety he missed the landing and fell to his death. As evidence for this legend you can find a cobblestone shaped like a cross where he supposedly landed as well as the stone figure of a man above the door to the crypt.

Is the legend true? It turns out, a man did in fact fall to his death from the roof of the Peterskirche, his gravestone can be found in the Nikolaifriedhof and it states that Franz Hesse, 22 years old, fell to his death in 1776. However, the stone figure of the man on the church which is associated with the legend predates this man’s death.

The Peterskirche in Görlitz is open to visitors Monday – Saturday 10:00-18:00 (until 16:00 in the winter). Entrance is free, however there is a €1.50 fee to take photographs and €2.00 to climb to the viewing platform between the spires.

Click here to find out more about the other historic churches in Görlitz! 

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Nikolaikirche – Churches in Görlitz

The Nikolaikirche is a church northwest of the old town in Görlitz named after St. Nicholas, the patron saint of merchants. The church is just around the corner from the home we are renovating in the quiet neighborhood of Nikolaivorstadt. It sits at the foot of the historic Nikolaifriedhof graveyard and the larger city cemetery.

It’s also one of the oldest churches in the city – a church has existed in this spot since 1100. In 1452 building of the late Gothic style church began but slowed down and stalled in favor of the building of the Peterskirche within the city walls.

Nikolaikirche – view from the graveyard

In 1516 Wendel Roßkopf the Elder took over the building of the church. He was a master builder and town councilman in Görlitz- most notably he built the Schönhof (current home to the Silesian Museum) and designed the archives wing of the town hall.

In 1520 the new Nikolaikirche was consecrated but would unluckily be burned down twice: in 1642 during the Thirty Years’ War and in 1717 during the town fire.

Most of the citizens of Görlitz attended the Peterskirche after its consecration in 1497 and the Nikolaikirche served mostly as a burial church for the city. The Nikolaifriedhof (cemetery) is one of the oldest and most beautiful in Germany and happens to be one of my favorite places for a peaceful walk in the city!

While the interior of the Nikolaikirche isn’t as beautiful as other churches in Görlitz and appears in many ways to be incomplete, it serves a different purpose today. In 1925/26 the interior of the church was transformed into a memorial to the fallen Protestant soldiers of World War I. The memorial was designed by Prof. M. Elsässer in expressionist style and lists the names of the city’s fallen on the walls.

The Nikolaikirche is open to visitors in March through October with a €2 entrance fee. Entrance to the cemetery is free and you can read more about it here.

Click here to find out more about the other historic churches in Görlitz! 

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Karl May Fest in Radebeul

When I heard on the radio that there was a Karl May Fest in Radebeul (about an hour away from Görlitz) and was promised that it would have “echte Indianer” (real Indians!) I couldn’t resist the temptation to check it out. Naturally, being from Arizona, I have seen real Native Americans and this ad on the radio made me chuckle. But people living in Germany, and especially in East Germany, have most likely not seen Native Americans “up close” and this festival is a chance for them to experience the Wild West and Native American culture. Although, how does one even begin to describe a culture that includes hundreds of different tribes and traditions? There are over 560 tribes in the US recognized by the government! This is where things get a little bit…awkward at the Karl May Fest.

But let’s back up – who is Karl May? (last name is pronounced like “my” not like the month)

Karl May (1842-1912) was a prolific German author who wrote adventure novels set in the American Old West. His main protagonists were Winnetou and Old Shatterhand.

Old Shatterhand and Winnetou Source: www.kino.de

May’s stories differ from the typical westerns that most Americans grew up with because the Native Americans in his stories were the heroes instead of the villains, and they fought against the nasty European settlers to protect their land and culture. May wrote all of these novels about the American west in spite of never having been there himself until later in life. His books and the characters are hugely popular all across Germany, but the fascination with Native American culture seems to be even stronger in East Germany. I’m not entirely sure why this is, perhaps because people couldn’t travel or perhaps because the GDR government found the narrative useful in criticizing US policies.

Whatever the reason, East Germans love Native American culture – they love collecting items like bows and dream catchers and they even like camping in teepees and trying to live “like the Indians did”.

In Radebeul, the Karl May Museum has gotten into a bit of hot water over their collection of scalps, which they have insisted on keeping although a tribe has requested they be returned to them.  As an American I am very aware of the controversy surrounding misuse of Native American culture because it’s a big topic here, but this topic hasn’t reached Germany and I don’t think most Germans are aware that it could be offensive for them to wear headdresses and camp in teepees. They are simply showing admiration for a culture that they are fascinated with. And while some moments at the festival had me squirming a bit, such as the Germans wearing headdresses and doing rain dances while a “real Indian” chanted a song with dubious lyrics, it reminds me of something like the Renaissance Festival, which we have back home. For the Germans, the Wild West is a distant place, romanticized and fictionalized, instead of a recent and violent past like it is for those of us living in the current American West.

Karl May Fest in Radebeul

The location of the festival, Radebeul, is a beautiful suburb of Dresden with vineyards on hills and lots of shady valleys and trees. It’s a beautiful spot for a festival. If you come from the train station Radebeul Ost you can take an antique train to the festival grounds (festival tickets are available on the train and the ride is included in the price). The festival has various stands selling Native American objects and souvenirs as well as food & drink. There is a schedule of shows, including reenactments of stories from Karl May, Native American dances and songs, and country, western & bluegrass bands. I was already curious about the festival but when I heard that the bluegrass band The Dead South (from Canada) would be there and that the show was free with admission to the festival, I knew I had to go. They sounded really great live and as usual, the banjo player was an inspiration.

The Dead South perform at Little Tombstone

After their show we took a walk through Radebeul. In spite of the heat, it was cool & refreshing under the trees. We found the campground and area where they do horse riding shows. We enjoyed checking out the beautiful horses and the teepees where people were camping, and all the costumes. We were amused and confused to see American, Canadian and Confederate flags flying.

View from Radebeul

I’ve been told that Karl May was ahead of his time, and that his stories are entertaining and fun – I’ll be adding them to my reading list.

If you get the chance to check out the Karl May Fest, you definitely shouldn’t miss it, it’s quite the experience! Whether you go in for the “authentic” experience, for the beautiful surroundings or because you are fascinated by the hobbyists, it’s a day well spent in Radebeul!

The Karl May Fest takes place every year in Radebeul at Lößnitzgrund on the weekend after Himmelfahrt/Männertag.

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Bunzlau – Day Trips in Poland

Bolesławiec (Bunzlau in German) is a small city in Poland, about a 45 minute drive from Görlitz. The city is famous for its ceramic pottery. We decided to go here on the weekend because the weather has been so beautiful this week and we wanted to take a little day trip. Wouldn’t you know it, when we woke up this morning, the sky was depressingly grey and the weather had cooled off considerably. Undeterred, we traded some of our Euros in for Polish money across the bridge and headed east on the A4.

Basilica in Market Square
Market Square

Our first stop was the city center, which was very walkable. The market square is surrounded by cheerful, pastel-colored buildings with the town hall in the center. At the town hall there is a plaque that is the first stop on a guided historic walking tour that will take you all around the city. Because of the weather we unfortunately didn’t get to complete the walking tour this time, but we noticed when walking through that the small city center has many green belts and parks.

We attempted to visit the Ceramic Museum and although the posted hours said it was open, a man outside explained to us that it wouldn’t be open for another half hour. We decided instead to go get some lunch. I had read online that the restaurant Opałkowa Chata was really good, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a cute little hut with friendly waitstaff who speak German and English well. We were given bread with Schmalz (lard) and we both ordered soups and a local beer on draft to start. I’ve been trying to be brave lately and order local specialties (and also the Polish soup żurek that I usually order had mushrooms in it here) so I picked a soup on the menu called flaczki. The menu said it had marjoram and something called tripe. I didn’t really know what this was, so I took a chance and ordered it. It was very bitter and the meat in it had a weird consistency. My husband started to make me uneasy by saying that he would never eat something like that and that I must be crazy. He psyched me out and I couldn’t finish it. I later googled the term and decided that I had in fact been crazy since the name in Polish basically translates to “guts”. My main dish was a lot better, I ordered Russian pierogi with cheese and potatoes.

After lunch we went to Ceramika Artystyczna to check out some pottery. The pottery comes with different quality ratings, 1 being the highest quality with the highest prices and 4 the lowest, sometimes having flaws, like small chips or cracks in the ceramic. There were a lot of beautiful patterns and I imagine if I hadn’t been with my husband, I could have looked a few more places for one that struck my fancy. At another pottery placed called Manufaktura, which we didn’t get to see today, you can make reservations ahead of time to do workshops where you paint your own pottery. They also have workshops for kids.

This day trip felt a bit incomplete because of the weather and left me with an itch to go back soon and see more. Next time I want to complete the historic walking tour, visit more pottery stores and do a workshop to make my own. I also want to make sure we visit Kliczków Castle next time we are there, which is about 15 minutes north of the city.

One thing that really amazed me while we were in Bolesławiec was the amount of Americans we encountered, specifically American women. When I was researching for this trip I found a lot of resources online written for “military wives”, giving them tips for buying ceramics in this city. The restaurants, staff and signage all seemed to really cater to this market with everything available in English, which is not usually a given for this part of Poland. All of these Americans drive right past my city to go buy pottery in Poland! So if you’re reading this, you should definitely make a stopover in Görlitz on your way to go ceramic shopping to see one of the most beautiful and well-preserved cities in Germany! 

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