Görlitz

Stolpersteine

The German word Stolperstein means stumbling stone, and today you may “stumble” over one of these 70,000 small brass stones placed all over Germany as well as Europe. This is a project initiated by German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992 to commemorate victims of the Nazis at their last place of residency or work. Most stones remember Jewish victims of the Holocaust, but there are also stones remembering other groups or individuals persecuted and murdered by the Nazis. When you “stumble” over the 10 x 10 cm stones while walking by, it’s meant to make you stop and think about the impact of Nazi terror and the lives that were destroyed.

In Görlitz, the first stones were placed in 2007. As of 2018, there are 21 Stolpersteine commemorating the victims of Nazi terror in Görlitz, and in the future we will probably have more.  Engraved on the stones is usually the text “Here lived/worked….” with their name and their fate, if known.

On November 9th each year, Germany commemorates the November pogrom in 1938, coordinated attacks carried out against Jews throughout Nazi Germany in which their homes, businesses and synagogues were looted and destroyed and many Jews were arrested or murdered.

In Görlitz in 2018, this date was commemorated through several events, including a tour of the Stolpersteine in our city that I participated in. It was after taking part in this tour that I felt compelled to seek out all the information that I could about the 21 people commemorated and to share this information with you about the Stolpersteine in Görlitz:


Stolperstein for Eugen Bass in Görlitz, Luisenstraße 21

Eugen Bass was a veterinarian who was born in Berlin but lived in Görlitz at Luisenstraße 21.  His stone was placed there in 2007. In 1930 he published a book “Der Praktische Tierarzt” (The Practical Veterinarian). He was first sent to the Jewish ghetto in Tormersdorf, today a deserted village north of Görlitz on the Polish side of the Neisse River. In 1942 he was deported to Theresienstadt, today Terezín in Czechia. Theresienstadt was not an extermination camp, but the conditions there were appalling. Eugen Bass died there at the age of 80.


Stolpersteine for Paul and Jenny Boehm in Görlitz, Vogtshof

The artist Paul Boehm and his sister Jenny Boehm were both born in Breslau (Wrocław, Poland) and lived in the Vogtshof in Görlitz beside the Peterskirche where their stones were placed in 2007 near the entrance. Paul died in the Jewish ghetto of Tormersdorf at the age of 74, his sister Jenny was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 and murdered at the extermination camp Treblinka.

Vogtshof in Görlitz

Stolpersteine for Sigmund and Betty Fischer in Görlitz, Demianiplatz 25

Sigmund Fischer and his wife Betty Fischer were textile dealers in Görlitz. They owned and operated the Textilhaus Fischer on Bismarckstraße, which was plundered and damaged during the November pogrom in 1938. They lived at Demianiplatz 25 and today when the doors are unlocked, you can step inside the entryway and read information about the Fischers and their descendants on the walls. Their stones were placed there in 2007. Betty was born in Görlitz, her husband Sigmund was born in Aussee (Usov in Czechia). They were both deported to Theresienstadt in 1942. Betty died there at the age of about 62, while Sigmund was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of about 65.


Stolpersteine for Erich, Charlotte and Werner Oppenheimer in Görlitz, Jakobstraße 3

Erich Oppenheimer and his wife Charlotte Oppenheimer lived with their son Werner Oppenheimer at Jakobstraße 3 in Görlitz. Erich and Charlotte’s stones were placed there in 2007 and their son Werner’s later in 2012. Erich was a doctor born in Berlin and his wife was born in Görlitz Moys, now a neighborhood in Zgorzelec. All three were sent to the ghetto in Tormersdorf in 1942. Erich and Charlotte committed suicide by drowning themselves in the Neisse River to avoid being deported at the ages of about 48 and 46. Their son, about 21 years of age, was sent to the ghetto in Lublin in 1942. His fate is unknown.


Stolpersteine for Hugo, Robert and Elsbeth Schaye in Görlitz, Salomonstraße 41

Hugo Schaye lived at Salomonstraße 41 in Görlitz with his wife Elsbeth Schaye and son Robert Schaye. Their stones were placed there in 2007. Hugo and Elsbeth Schaye owned a hide and fur trade in the neighborhood of Rauschwalde. Hugo was born in Görlitz but his wife was from Bernsee. They were deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 and died there at the ages of about 78 and 71,while their son was sent east and murdered in the concentration camp Madjanek at the age of about 47.


Stolpersteine for Carl and Hans Jacobsohn in Görlitz, Bismarckstraße 16

Carl Jacobsohn and his son Hans Jacobsohn lived at Bismarckstraße 16 in Görlitz, where their stones were placed in 2012. Carl was born in Gollub and Hans was born in Görlitz. They both fled to Holland in 1938 but were sent to Auschwitz in 1944 and murdered there at the ages of about 67 and 35. Their son and brother Walter Jacobsohn escaped and lives today in Israel.


Stolpersteine for Fritz and Käthe Warschawski in Görlitz, Postplatz 10

Dr. Fritz Warschawski, a dentist, and his wife Käthe Warschawki were wealthy and influential citizens in Görlitz. Sensing that life was becoming increasingly dangerous for them in Germany, they fled in secrecy to Palastine in 1938.  Their grandson wants to remember his grandparents, who lived at Postplatz 10 in Görlitz where their stones were placed in 2012. Käthe struggled to cope after fleeing to a strange new country and killed herself in 1935.


Stolpersteine for Paul and Margarete Arnade in Görlitz, Jakobstraße 31

Paul Arnade and his wife Margarete Arnade owned and operated a suitcase and leather goods factory in Görlitz, which Paul’s father Julius Arnade founded in 1872. The factory was on Peterstraße until it was destroyed in a fire in 1876. Arnade took the opportunity to start a larger factory in Görlitz Moys. His business profited from a prosperous economy and increase in tourism. Julius Arnade died in 1915 and his tombstone can be found in the Jewish Cemetery in Görlitz. Paul and Margarete, both born in Görlitz, took over the business after his death and lived at Jakobstraße 31 in Görlitz. Their stones were placed there in 2014. Paul became chairman of the tourism association in Görlitz, but was pressured to resign in 1933 because he was Jewish. In 1936 the family was forced to sell the factory for a paltry sum. In 1941 both Paul and Margarete were sent to the ghetto in Tormersdorf. Paul and Margarete were both deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 where he died at the age of about 68. Margarete was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of about 58.


Stolperstein for Martin Ephraim in Görlitz, Zittauer Straße 64

Martin Ephraim was born in Görlitz. His father, Lesser Ephraim, founded a successful ironmongery trading business. After it outgrew its premises on the Neißstraße in Görlitz, he acquired property on Jakobstraße 5. Today, you can see the initials EG on the beautiful ornate golden door, standing for Ephraim Görlitz. After Lesser Ephraim’s death in 1900, Martin Ephraim took over the business. Lesser Ephraim’s gravestone can be found in the Jewish Cemetery in Görlitz. Martin Ephraim had a villa built on Goethestraße 17 – one of the first houses in Görlitz built in art nouveau style. The villa was a youth hostel for many years and is now a hotel.

Martin Ephraim was a public benefactor who made huge contributions to Görlitz both culturally and commercially. He donated art collections to museums and helped to build the Ruhmeshalle (Dom Kultury) and the New Synagogue and to rebuild the railway station in Görlitz. His Stolperstein was placed outside of the office of the factory manager’s house on Zittauer Straße 64 in 2014. In 1944 at the age of 84 he was deported to the ghetto in Theresienstadt and he died there the same year.

Jakobstraße 5
Today the Ephraim Villa on Goethestraße 17 is a hotel

Stolpersteine for Wilhelm and Elsbeth Ucko in Görlitz, Elisabethstraße 10/11

Elsbeth Ucko and her son Wilhelm Ucko, both born in Görlitz, had a photo studio at Elisabethstraße 10/11, where their stones were placed in 2018. Her husband had died earlier in WWI. In 1944 at the age of about 63 Elsbeth was deported to the ghetto Litzmannstadt (Łódź) where she died. Her son Wilhelm was deported to Theresienstadt in 1944 but he survived and went to Sweden.


Stolperstein for Alfons Wachsmann in Görlitz, Struvestraße 19

Alfons Wachsmann, born in Berlin, studied theology and was ordained as a priest in Breslau in 1921. From 1921-1924 he was the chaplain of the parish of the Holy Cross Church in Görlitz on Struvestraße 19, where his stone was placed in 2018. Alfons Wachsmann took an early stand against National Socialism, using his pulpit to criticize and speak out against the regime. He was declared an enemy of the state and his calls and correspondence were monitored. In 1943 he was arrested and sentenced to death. In 1944 they executed him at the age of 48.

The Heilig-Kreuz-Kirche in Görlitz

The 21 stones scattered around Görlitz remind us of the 21 lives that were destroyed by National Socialism. Some of them are well-remembered as influential citizens of Görlitz, and some of them were “average” people who left little behind to remember them by. One thing they all have in common – their lives were cruelly taken away from them. These stones remind us of the history everywhere we walk. So if you’re in Görlitz, and you happen to stumble upon one of these small brass stones, take a moment to think about what was lost.

Görlitz Photo Marathon 2017

I decided to take part in the first photo marathon in Görlitz during the Fotofestival 2017. We were given eight photo assignments, all having to do with the bigger theme of the festival which was “Lebenswelten” (living environments). We were told that they were looking for photos to be cohesive and have an overarching theme. When I got the photo assignments I immediately came home to brainstorm & try to come up with a theme that would set my photos apart. I decided that my photos would all be taken in the Nikolaivorstadt – my favorite neighborhood in Görlitz, where we are renovating a house. I did my best with what I had: my talent level, my equipment and the weather in Görlitz. No cell phones were allowed and we had to use a digital camera – absolutely no editing was allowed outside of the settings on your camera. The photos had to be taken in the order given, so you couldn’t go back and redo any unless you wanted to redo them all. We had six hours to finish and turn in our SD cards for judging. I (mostly) enjoyed myself – I like taking pictures of Görlitz! But it also got quite exhausting towards the last few pictures and a bit frustrating when they didn’t turn out like I’d hoped.

1. Start-Nummer fotografisch in Szene setzen. Beginne deine Serie mit deiner Startnummer. / Stage your starting number. Begin your series with your starting number.

I tried for a while to find the number thirteen in a cool style on houses in the neighborhood but quickly realized I was wasting far too much time and not finding anything so I gave up and took a picture of my lanyard with starting number hanging on the entrance gate to the Nikolaizwinger, a green path between the former city walls.

2. In jeder Stadt gibt es unzählige Türen, in Görlitz gibt es sehr viele alte Türen und Portale. Finde einen EINGANG, der dich besonders anspricht und setze ihn so in Szene, wie du es magst. / In every city there are countless doors, in Görlitz there are many old doors and portals. Find an entry that appeals to you and stage it as you like.

I took this photo inside the Nikolaifriedhof, the super old cemetery beside the Nikolai church. This is the door to a crypt. I decided afterwards that I would prefer all of my photos to be in landscape orientation but this is the best photo I had for the door theme and what I ended up going with.

3. Wasser – ist das Lebenselixier einer Stadt. Du findest es in vielfältiger Form. Stelle das Element WASSER im Bild dar. / Water is the lifeblood of a city. You can find it in many forms. Present the element WATER in your image.

I initially wanted to take pictures at a fountain near the Nikolai church but the lighting was not right and I didn’t like the pictures, so I ended up going to Ölberggarten (Mount of Olives Garden) which is part of the Heiliges Grab – Holy grave replica in Görlitz. I was happy with the amount of reflection I got at the pond in spite of the mostly overcast skies.

4. Heilige Stätten – viele mittelalterliche Kirchen zeugen von einer bewegten Vergangenheit. Sie sind aber auch Orte der STILLE. Halte einen Moment des Innehaltens und der Besinnung fest. / Sacred sites – many medieval churches testify to a turbulent past. But they are also places of SILENCE. Hold a moment for pause & reflection.

Because I had decided to focus on the Nikolaivorstadt, the choice of church was easy – the Nikolaikirche. The inside has long been used as a memorial instead of as a church, so I decided to take a picture in the graveyard because it is always so peaceful and quiet there. It happened to be quite noisy and full of people setting up for an event while I was there photographing but at least that isn’t evident in the photo I took!

5. Görlitz – die Stadt der Türme. Es gibt bestimmt an die 100 Türme und Türmchen. Türme bieten ungewöhnliche PERSPEKTIVEN. Zeige uns deinen Blick durch den Sucher! / Görlitz – the city of towers. There are certainly hundreds of towers. Towers offer unusual perspectives. Show us your view through the viewfinder!

The Nikolaiturm wasn’t open during the marathon and I thought taking a picture of it might be too obvious and what everyone would be doing. Then I realized that from our favorite little park in the Nikolaivorstadt you have a really nice view of the church towers.

6. “Wem die Zeit ist wie Ewigkeit, und Ewigkeit wie die Zeit, der ist befreit von allem Streit.” (Jakob Böhme) Fotografisch bietet sich ein Spiel mit der Verschlusszeit an. Versuche das Thema ZEIT im Bild umzusetzen. / “To whom time is as eternity , and eternity as time, is liberated from all strife.” (Jakob Böhme) Playing with shutter speed is an idea. Try to implement the topic TIME in the picture.

There are no clocks that I’m aware of in the Nikolaivorstadt so I had a hard time coming up with something for this. I decided I wanted to show the changing colors of the leaves to represent time passing. I  tried to get some pictures of the leaves falling when I dropped them to play with shutter speed but it didn’t work out how I wanted, so this is what I came up with. I actually collected the leaves and arranged them there, shh! Don’t tell anyone.

7. Görlitz – bereits seit 1869 wird das köstliche Landskron-Bier gebraut. Der Genuss gehört heute zum Lebensgefühl vieler Görlitzer. Spuren der LANDSKRON -Braumanufaktur findest du überall in der Stadt. Spüre sie auf und halte sie in einem Bild fest. / Görlitz – since 1869 the delicious Landskron beer has been brewed here. Today the enjoyment belongs to the feeling of many Görlitzer. Traces of the Landskron brewery can be found all over the city. Find them and show them in a picture.

I really don’t think there are any signs of Landskron brewery in the Nikolaivorstadt so I decided to bring a beer with me to enjoy somewhere on my long walk. This was taken inside the Nikolaizwinger.

8. Pflastermüde – das Görlitzer Kopfsteinpflaster hat es in sich. Wahrscheinlich geht es nicht nur dir so? Wie FÜHLST du dich kurz vor dem ZIEL des Marathons? Wie geht es deinen Füßen? / Tired from walking – the cobblestones of Görlitz pack a punch. Probably not just you? How do you FEEL just before reaching your end goal of the marathon? How are your feet?

I was indeed very worn out by the time I got to this picture. I felt like taking a shot of my feet on the ground was a bit too “instagrammy”, so I noticed this cool view from Steinweg, one of the prettiest and oldest streets in Görlitz. I waited until no one was around and then I laid down in the middle of the street on my belly to get this shot.

I’m glad that I participated in the photo marathon, even though some of the participants and the judges were overall more serious & professional than I anticipated. I think it would have been nice to have a few laymen on the jury in addition to the photography experts and would have made it less intimidating for more casual participants like me. It was nerve-wracking to have to take the photos in order and to not be able to touch them up at all – these are photos I normally wouldn’t post to my website without touching up a bit. I also think my theme was not apparent to the judges & feel that I would need to do something more obvious next time to stand out. You can see the winners of the marathon at this website. There were some really beautiful photos taken that made me feel out of my depth, and a few others that had me scratching my head a bit. I’m not sure if I’ll take part next year – we’ll see how I feel when the time comes!

The Untermarkt in Görlitz

The Untermarkt in Görlitz (lower market) is the older of the two main market squares in Görlitz and, in my opinion, the most beautiful spot in the city!

The Untermarkt is lined with beautiful Renaissance buildings and is divided in two by a row of buildings in the center of the square called die Zeile (the row). During warm seasons you can find people sitting out at the cafes and restaurants in the evenings, enjoying the magical atmosphere of the historic market with its cobble-stoned streets and arcades. Many of Görlitz’s festivals take place on the Untermarkt like the Tippelmarkt and Altstadtfest.

Here are a few things to be sure to look out for while you are exploring the lower market:

View of Waage and Rathausturm on Görlitz Untermarkt
The Untermarkt – The Waage and the Rathaus

Rathaus

The Rathaus (town hall) actually consists of several buildings from different time periods. The old town hall (Altes Rathaus) dates back to the Renaissance period – inside there are beautiful painted wood ceilings and you can peak into the inner courtyard with its bay window for the court.The Rathausturm (town hall tower) was built in the 16th century with elaborate clocks, dials and a lion that roars with organ pipes. If you take the tour of the tower you may be able to push the button that sets the lion roaring, like I did! But that’s not the only reason to climb to the top – the panoramic views of Görlitz from above are well worth the climb! The town hall steps are decorated with a statue of Justitia – but she is not blind, a symbol of the free jurisdiction that the city of Görlitz had.

View from the Rathausturm town hall tower in Görlitz of the Obermarkt and Landeskrone
View of Görlitz from the Rathausturm facing southwest
Clocks on the town hall tower Rathausturm in Görlitz
Clocks on the Rathausturm
Statue of Justitia on Rathaustreppe stairs to town hall in Görlitz
Justitia on the Rathaus steps
Neues Rathaus (new town hall) in Görlitz Untermarkt lower square
Neues Rathaus

The new town hall (Neues Rathaus) was built at the beginning of the 1900s in neo-Renaissance style and features the coat of arms of the Lusatian League – an alliance of six towns: Görlitz, Bautzen, Kamenz, Lauban, Löbau and Zittau. Lauban now lies in Poland and is called Lubań. This league increased the security and political influence of its member cities from 1346-1635.

From March through December there are tours of the tower Wednesday-Sunday from 11:00am-6:00pm on the hour. Tours are in German, require no reservation and cost 4€ for adults.

Schönhof

Schönhof Silesian Museum in Görlitz
The Schönhof houses the Silesian Museum
Painted wooden Renaissance ceilings inside Schönhof Görlitz Silesian Museum
Painted wooden ceilings inside the Schönhof

Schönhof is the oldest Renaissance building in Görlitz – after the city fire in 1525 it was rebuilt by the council’s master builder, Wendel Roskopf the Elder. The wooden ceilings and wall paintings inside have been preserved form the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries – that alone would make the building worth a visit, but it is also home to a fantastic collection of items housed by the Silesian Museum.

Waage

The Scales (Waage) is a Renaissance house in the middle of the Untermarkt, constructed in 1600. When goods arrived in the city they were weighed, registered and paid for here.

Untermarkt in Görlitz Waage and Ratsapotheke
Waage in the foreground and Ratsapotheke in the background

Brauner Hirsch

Brauner Hirsch Brown Deer on Görlitz Untermarkt
The Brauner Hirsch

The Brauner Hirsch (brown deer) is a baroque town house and one of the most extensive houses in the city. It used to be a hotel and brewery. The building (as well as the Untermarkt in general) is very popular with film makers, like Wes Anderson in his film Grand Budapest Hotel.

Click here see side-by-side photo comparisons of scenes from the film and locations in Görlitz.

Brauner Hirsch Gorlitz movie still Grand Budapest Hotel
Many scenes from Grand Budapest Hotel were filmed in Görlitz, this one in front of Brauner Hirsch

Ratsapotheke

The Ratsapotheke (the town apothecary) is a Renaissance building with a beautiful façade and portal rebuilt by Wendel Roskopf the Younger around 1550 for a merchant. Until 1832 it was the only pharmacy in Görlitz and today you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee and dessert in its café.

Ratsapotheke on the Untermarkt in Görlitz
The Ratsapotheke with cafe

Flüsterborgen

The “Whispering Arch”(Flüsterbogen) gets its name from a unique auditory effect – if you put your ear to one end of the arch while someone whispers into the other, you can hear them clearly at the your end. So climb up and put your ear to the arch – don’t be embarrassed, every visitor has to try it at least once!

Flüsterbogen Whispering Arch in Görlitz Untermarkt
Flüsterbogen

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 10-4pm 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.

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.

The Kaufhaus is currently open to visitors on Thursday and Friday from 3pm-6pm.

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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Dreifaltigkeitskirche – Churches in Görlitz

I wasn’t expecting a lot from the interior of this church. The exterior is slightly less than thrilling. It’s also a Protestant church, and those tend to be plainer than their Catholic counterparts. Dreifaltigkeit means trinity in German and this church is situated on the Obermarkt in Görlitz. I’ve walked by it often but never really been curious about the inside. It looks kind of sooty and unremarkable. But I learned my lesson, never judge a church by its, uh…cover.

Dreifaltigkeitskirche

The first thing you see when you walk towards the entrance is a sign saying that it costs €1.50 to photograph inside this church. Entrance, however, is free if you’d just like to have a look. At first I balked at the fee, but I was happy to pay it once I saw the inside. When I walked in I was floored by the beautiful vaulted ceilings, the ornate paintings and altar. It’s got kind of a dark & gloomy vibe even though there’s so much light pouring through the windows.

The church was first built in the 13th century as an abbey for the Franciscan Monastery alongside the former city wall. It was a simple church built along the guidelines of religious order of the monks who adopted a lifestyle of poverty and went barefoot or only in sandals.

Altar inside the Dreifaltigkeitskirche
Mural inside the Dreifaltigkeitskirche

The Legend of the Creepy Monk in Wood Slippers

There are several popular legends that everyone in Görlitz knows and there’s a legend about this church set during the time that it was a monastery  in the middle ages. It’s pretty creepy – don’t say I didn’t warn you.

A traveling journeyman made his way to Görlitz on foot and was exhausted from his journey when he reached the church on the Obermarkt. He went inside to pray and fell asleep on a pew in the back. He was awakened late at night by a strange shuffling sound and became frightened and hid. From his hiding place he saw a monk with a hideous face, shuffling along in wooden slippers. The monk was dragging the lifeless body of a little girl. Scared out of his wits, the man remained hidden and watched as the monk hid the girl beneath a grave stone in the church.

The Waiting Mother
Photo Credit: Fotoarchiv Frank Vater

Hoping it had all been just a bad dream, the man left the church the next morning but around Görlitz he heard that there was panic because a mother on Fleischerstraße was missing her daughter. The young girl had attended mass as usual but had not returned home. Hearing this, the man immediately went to the authorities and reported what he had seen.

Because of the monk’s hideous face, he was easily identified. When confronted he did not deny his crimes. He admitted to attacking the girl, having been unable to keep his oath of celibacy. In order to hide his crime he had murdered her and hidden her body in the church.

The monk was sentenced to be walled-in alive but his spirit is said to have never found rest. Supposedly you can still hear the shuffling of his wooden slippers in the church today.

Today there is a hotel and restaurant located on the Fleischerstraße where the widow with the missing daughter lived, it’s called Zum Klötzelmönch. Next door on the orange building high up you can see the statue of a woman’s head, they call this the “waiting mother”.

Hotel zum Klötzelmönch and in the background the church

The Dreifaltigkeitskirche was expanded and changed in appearance over the centuries. After the Reformation the Franciscans left the monastery and handed it over to the city to be used as a school. The church became Protestant.

Organ inside the Dreifaltigkeitskirche
Inside the Dreifaltigkeitskirche
Ceiling detail inside the Dreifaltigkeitskirche
Inside the Dreifaltigkeitskirche

The building adjacent to the Dreifaltigkeitskirche is still used as a school today, the Augustum-Annen-Gymnasium. Can you imagine going to high school in a gorgeous building like this? We certainly didn’t have high schools like this in Arizona!

I, for one, am glad that I hadn’t heard the story  of the creepy monk in the wooden shoes until after I visited the Dreifaltigkeitskirche! I can imagine myself going inside this church when the weather gets warmer and having a seat in a pew to get away from the heat and stress and just reflect, but now I will imagine falling asleep and waking up to the sound of shuffling wooden shoes!

If you are touring Görlitz you should definitely check out the Dreifaltigkeitskirche for its beautiful interior. Because it was originally a Catholic church, the interior is more ornate than many Protestant churches tend to be.

Dreifaltigkeitskirche is definitely worth a peak inside while you’re on the Obermarkt!

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

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Holy Grave Replica in Görlitz

This monument in Görlitz is a replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Located in the Nikolaivorstadt, it’s about a ten minute walk from the old town.

Georg Emmerich – Source: Unser Görlitz

The Heiliges Grab was built around 1500 by Georg Emmerich (1422-1507), the son of a wealthy merchant in Görlitz. When he was young he “fell in love” with a neighbor girl, Benigna Horschel, and got her pregnant. His parents forbid him to marry her and so he left for a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1465 to seek absolution for his sins, leaving the poor girl and child behind. In Jerusalem he was admitted into the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, a group whose principle mission is to reinforce the practice of Christian life and fidelity to the pope. Georg Emmerich returned to Görlitz in 1465, became mayor and set out to recreate the Holy Sepulchre in his city. Since the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem has seen a lot of changes over time, the replica in Görlitz is an opportunity to see it as it was then.

The Heiliges Grab is meant to be just one stop on the Stations of the Cross, the path that Jesus took. Every year on Good Friday there is a procession that follows this path. It starts at the Peterskirche, the beautiful church that dominates the Görlitz skyline on the Neiße.

Next you head west past the Nikolaiturm and the Jesus Bakery to Steinweg. Steinweg is one of the oldest and most beautiful streets in Görlitz.

Steinweg
Entrance to Heiliges Grab

Then you pass the Place of Remembrance of Jesus Christ’s way of suffering, which is a cross surrounded by bushes that badly need to be trimmed (I’m 5’3 and could barely see over them!).

Finally, you arrive at the Heiliges Grab. When you walk up the steps, the first thing you see is the Doppelkapelle, meant to replicate the double chapel on the hill of Golgatha.

Doppelkapelle

The Adamskapelle is on the first floor. Inside you find a simple sandstone altar and a crack in the wall meant to reflect the crack in the rock in Jerusalem.

The Emmerich family crest is on the wall on the left.

Inside Adamskapelle
Emmerich family crest

Upstairs you find the second chapel, Golgathakapelle. Three holes on the ground are meant to remind one of the three crosses erected at Golgotha. Throughout the Heiliges Grab you see a lot of carvings and graffiti in the stones of the chapels. Some of these carvings are very old, dating back to the 1500s!

Golgothakapelle
Really old grafitti

In front of the double chapel is the Salbhaus (house of anoinment). Behind the gate there is a sculpture called “Die Beweinung Jesu” (the lamentation of Christ).

Salbhaus

Directly on the left when you enter the Heiliges Grab is a brick building that had an exhibit when I visited called “Kreuzigung” (crucifixion), containing paintings by artist Sven Schmidt from Gera.

Art Exhibit “Crucifixion”
Grabkapelle

Finally, in the back you see the Grabkapelle, which is divided into two rooms. A big stone in front of the entrance is meant to symbolize the stone that sealed the grave. Inside the first room, there’s a white angel carved from wood dating from the baroque period. The second room has an empty bench, symbolizing the empty grave.

The entire place overlooks the Ölberggarten, which symbolizes the Mount of Olives in Jersualem. If the weather is nice and you’d like to walk in the park, you will have to exit the Heiliges Grab, turn right and take a right on Friedhofstraße. Above the park is the crematorium for the city cemetery. A giant maple tree stands on the hill and symbolizes the olive tree on Calvary. Below, the Jüngerwiese (disciples’ meadow), is a symbol of the sleeping disciples. And finally, a brook in the park symbolizes the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem.

Ölberggarten – view of crematorium

There’s a pretty rad playground in the Ölberggarten, so if you’ve just dragged your kids through the Holy Sepulchre, you might want to reward them by letting them play for a while.

Pond in Ölberggarten

If you want to take a pleasant stroll away from the old town and down one of the oldest and most beautiful streets in Görlitz, (Steinweg), or if you are interested in seeing a replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem,  check out the Heiliges Grab while you’re in Görlitz! Be sure to check the visitor information before you go. When I visited in March 2017, the cost was €2.50 for entrance and €5.00 for a tour. They have printed information for you to read while you are inside, ask for one in English.

Graveyards in Görlitz

Call me crazy, but I love wandering around old graveyards. Lucky for me, we will be living just minutes from a really beautiful one – it’s just around the corner from the home we are renovating in the Nikolaivorstadt, a quiet neighborhood northwest of the old town. Here’s why you should spend the day wandering around really old graveyards in Görlitz!

Nikolaifriedhof (pronunciation tip: it’s pronounced like freed, not fried)

 

Nikolaikirche – view from the graveyard

The Nikolaifriedhof (St. Nicholas Graveyard) is free to enter and contains gorgeous gravestones and crypts, with some dating as far back as the 1300s. You can spend quite a while wandering around the graveyard and looking at all of the interesting and ornate stones and statues there. I’ve visited both in Winter and Spring and found it captivating regardless of the weather – a really interesting and peaceful walk. You can also visit the Nikolaikirche, one of the oldest churches in Görlitz, now home to an expressionist style memorial to the fallen soldiers in World War I. Read more about it here! 

Sculpture on the outside of a crypt in Nikolaifriedhof

The Nikolaifriedhof was the main burial site for the town of Görlitz from it’s establishment in the 12th century until the opening of the Städtischer Friedhof in 1847 (city cemetery – continue reading for more info). The graveyard has a rich collection of tombs and epitaphs from the 17th  to the 19th century and provides a unique look at the changing burial culture of the wealthy families in Görlitz over time. For example, before the Reformation it was desirable to be buried as close as possible to the church, either inside or against the outer walls. After Reformation this became less important, and you could find the gravestones of wealthy members of the town scattered across the graveyard, even against the outer walls which used to be reserved for “undesirable” members of society. The graveyard boasts a collection of about 850 tombstones and  17 burial crypts. These ornately decorated memorials to deceased loved ones often costed as much as a house for the living.

The most famous inhabitant of the Nikolaifriedhof is the famous Görlitz resident Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), a Christian mythic & theologian. You can find his grave on the right side after you pass the Nikolaikirche. Jakob is an important figure in Görlitz history – you can find his house on the other side of the river in Zgorzelec and a statue of him in the park.

Jakob Böhme’s grave

Görlitz eventually outgrew the Nikolaifriedhof and so they extended it with the Städtischer Friedhof (city cemetery) in 1847. This cemetery is still in use today: as you walk through you find family members diligently caring for the plots of their loved ones as well as people just out for a quiet stroll. I find the family plots lining the walls of the cemetery especially beautiful, some of them include stunning views of Görlitz.

Family plots line the outer wall

The Städtischer Friedhof is divided into two sections, the new and the old. The old section is just north of the Nikolaifriedhof and the new section is at the far north end (bordering on the neighborhood of Königshufen, known for its prefabricated apartments built during the GDR). As you cross from the Nikolaifriedhof to the Städtischer Friedhof you walk by the Feierhalle (built in 1874) where services are held.

The Feierhalle

If you stick to the right when entering the Städtischer Friedhof you will find the grave of a very unfortunate character, Minna Herzlieb (1789-1865). She was a muse of the poet Goethe. After meeting her in Weimar, he wrote several sonnets for her. Unfortunately she was unhappily married, suffered a mental breakdown and died in a mental hospital in Görlitz.

Minna Herzlieb (Source: Wikipedia)
Minna Herzlieb’s grave
Minna Herzlieb’s grave

There are also several monuments to those lost in wars. Near the grave of Minna Herzlieb you can find a monument to the Sachsen, French, Austrian and Prussian soldiers who died in the Austro-Prussian War in 1866.

Austro-Prussian War memorial

In the far north corner of the new section of the cemetery there are also monuments to soldiers lost in the First and Second World Wars. There is a special monument and the gravestones of Greek soldiers who were interned in Görlitz in 1916 after surrendering in Macedonia. They didn’t die in battle, but after an outbreak of the Spanish flu.

WWI Monument
WWI Monument
WW2 Memorial
WW2 Memorial
First hints of Spring

Just a few minutes’ walk from the old town, the Nikolaikirche is an interesting sight – and the cemeteries are filled with fascinating gravestones and monuments, making for a really peaceful and pleasant walk, no matter what time of year. I spent the past several days enjoying the sunny weather and exploring for this blog post, and have decided this is one of my favorite places to walk in the city. Every time I am there I see something that I hadn’t noticed before. Be sure to stop by when you are in Görlitz!

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Did you know? Grave plots in Germany are temporary and are typically leased by families for periods of time, usually 15-30 years. If the lease isn’t renewed, the plot may be reused. I know this is unthinkable to many Americans, but having a lot of space is a luxury they don’t have in Europe!

 

Birds’ Wedding – Sorbian Traditions

Lusatia is a region that is found in the area where Germany, Poland and Czech Republic meet and is home to the ethnic group of Lusatian Sorbs. The city of Görlitz lies in this region.

Today is Vogelhochzeit

There is a cute tradition celebrated in this region called “Vogelhochzeit” (or birds’ wedding) that takes place each year on January 25th.

There is also a popular children’s song called “Vogelhochzeit” that tells the story of the wedding of two birds: a male thrush (die Drossel) and a female blackbird (die Amsel).

On the evening of the 24th of January, children put plates out on windowsills or in front of doors with the hopes that the birds will leave some of the treats from their wedding behind. In the morning they find sweets and baked goods in the shape of birds and birds’ nests on the plate.

Naturally, once I heard about this tradition I had to rush out to the bakery to purchase some bird-related treats. I was sadly too belatedly informed to put a plate out so that my treats could be delivered by the birds instead!

Treats from the birds’ wedding

Talk about Görlitz

This is a list I’ve compiled of articles and blogs in English about Görlitz. If you know of another article or blog entry that should be added, please let me know in the comments and I will update it!

BLOG POSTS

6 Days in Görlitz on Amanda’s Travel Blog

8 Things you didn’t know about Görlitz on Global Brunch

A Day Trip from Berlin: Görlitz Photos on Cheryl Howard

Best Things to do in Görlitz on on Just Travelous

Görlitz: A Night in Silesia on Never Left Home

Goerlitz: Germany’s most easterly city on Go-Eat-Do

Hollywood on the Lusation Neisse River: Görlitz, Germany/Zgorzelec, Poland on Kimberly Sullivan

Traveling the Local Way: Görlitz on Around the World in One Blog

On tour in Germany: Finding food & the Flüsterbogen in Görlitz on Destination Go

 

ARTICLES

A tale of two sister cities on DW

Germany/Poland: Goerlitz Remains a Divided City on RadioFreeEurope RadioLiberty

Grand Budapest Hotel travel guide to Görlitz on Radio Times

In Görlitz, Germany, a walk through history on The Washington Post 

Polish-German Border Reunion on NPR

The Grand Budapest experience: Setting the scene in Görlitz on Independent

The Grand Budapest Hotel is actually a department store in Germany, and it’s about to become much grander on Public Radio International

Welcome to Görlitz, the perfect German town that’s a movie star in its own right on The Guardian

 

Old Town Festival Görlitz 2016

The 22nd Altstadtfest (old town festival) in Görlitz has come and gone. This was my second time at the festival and we attended on Friday evening. The first time was nine years ago (!) when we had just moved to Germany to live in Dresden for two years. Somehow I feel like those two years went by in a blur of homesickness & confusion, so I was very excited to get to experience the festival again this year!

View from the Ferris Wheel at the Altstadtfest
View from the Ferris Wheel at the Altstadtfest

I planned out the things I wanted to see, do and eat and dragged my semi-willing husband and Schwager (brother-in-law) along for my program. We were lucky to have beautiful weather and the sun was shining when we arrived at the festival quite early. We started by just generally checking things out and catching the traditional Anblasen at the Untermarkt, the start of the festival with the blowing of horns. There were many people dressed up in middle-ages or renaissance style costumes and vendors were selling things like local products & art, costumes, & toy swords for the kids. Next we headed to the Altstadtbrücke (old town bridge) to see the opening of the festival with the mayors of Görlitz and Zgorzelec and the firing of the cannons. The bridge was crowded with people and they spoke about the partnership between the two cities, releasing balloons that were in the colors of the German and Polish flags. In Zgorzelec they also had a festival coinciding with the Altstadtfest, the Jakuby fest. Jakub Böhme is a prominent figure in the history of Görlitz/Zgorzelec, so if you are at the festival next year make sure to cross the bridge so you don’t miss this part of the celebration!

Onlookers waiting for the cannon firing along the Neiße
Onlookers waiting for the cannon firing along the Neiße

After that we were ready to try some food and drink. The beer was flowing freely in our group of three and so I stood in line to try a Heurekaner, which was a pocket of bread filled with cheese and ham and topped with sour cream. My husband had a huge piece of meat on a skewer. For dessert I had Quarkbällchen, fried balls of quark dipped in sugar. Both were delicious!

Next on my agenda was to ride the Riesenrad (ferris wheel) for beautiful views of Görlitz. We even rode twice because the view was so nice! Beware – if you are not riding with someone very young or elderly they will give your car on the ferris wheel a good spin before you go up! Luckily I did not become ill and lose any of my Quarkbällchen.

Moments from the 22nd Altstadtfest
Moments from the 22nd Altstadtfest

The next thing we did was to catch one of the many live musical acts at the festival. We headed to the stage at Untermarkt and saw the band Triple Trouble play. They were a three man group and I was very excited to see that one of them was playing the banjo! If you don’t know, I have just started learning to play the banjo this year, so this made me very happy. The band was hilarious and I felt proud for understanding all of the jokes they told inbetween playing many well-known cover songs. I can remember when we first came here in 2007 not being able to understand such things, so it’s nice to relish in my hard-earned German abilities! I enjoyed the band so much that I purchased their CD and will be following them to see where they play next.

Because of our jet lag we did not celebrate as heartily as we might have but now I expect to be able to go to the Altstadtfest every year and look forward to the 23rd (and my third) festival in 2017! It’s a great experience to see all of Görlitz out enjoying the beautiful sights, weather and entertainment. And entrance to the festival is completely free! To support the Altstadtfest you can buy collectible pins, there were two on offer this year. The gold pin cost €10 and the colored pin cost €5. I look forward to collecting more!

Collectible pins from the 2016 Altstadtfest
Collectible pins from the 2016 Altstadtfest

Resources:
Altstadtfest Görlitz
Triple Trouble

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Landeskrone – Görlitz Landmark

The Landeskrone, one of the most famous landmarks of Görlitz, is a 420m (1380 ft) high extinct volcano located in the neighborhood of Biesnitz southwest of the city center. Visible basalt rocks show the evidence of its vulcanic past.

My in-laws live within walking distance. Since I was jetlagged while visiting them and wide awake at 4am, I decided to scurry up to the top to watch the sunrise.

View of the Landeskrone from Biesnitz
View of the Landeskrone from Biesnitz

You can reach the Landeskrone by taking Tram #2 all the way to the end station Landeskrone or you can park at the base. Once you have reached the base, you can either take a path that goes all the way around the base of the Landeskrone, or you can take the stairs that go up to the summit.

There is a road going up but you are not allowed to take your car. You can, however, arrange to be picked up by the hotel on top of the Landeskrone beforehand.

Once at the top you reach the Burghotel and Restaurant. The trees are thick here – in order to get the amazing views in all directions you need to climb to the top of the lookout tower. If the weather and/or timing is right you’ll be blessed with a gorgeous view like this:

View from the Landeskrone at Sunrise
View from the Landeskrone at Sunrise

Archaeological digs have found evidence of fortifying walls on the Landeskrone dating back to around 900. During the High Middle Ages a castle was built atop the Landeskrone and it was owned by wealthy noblemen from Lusatia and Silesia. Because of Görlitz’s location along the Via Regia, the Landeskrone also served as part of the defense system. (The Via Regia was a royal highway during the Middle Ages that connected east and west Europe and stretched from present-day Spain to Kiev). In 1440 when the city of Görlitz came into possession of the castle, they had it razed. After that it was used as vantage point during the Seven Years’ War and the Austro-Prussian War.

On the way down I was in less of a hurry, so I wandered along different smaller paths to see where they would take me. I stumbled upon a large column that I later learned is the Bismarcksäule, a large column which was erected in honor of Otto von Bismarck in 1901. The column was renovated in 1995. It was lined with empty beer bottles when I visited it, indicating that it’s a popular spot to sit and take in the view while enjoying a cold one. Unfortunately it was too early and I didn’t bring any beer with me. Maybe next time! But I will definitely be bringing my empties back down with me.

Bismarcksäule on the Landeskrone
Bismarcksäule on the Landeskrone

 

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Willkommen in Görlitz!

Welcome to Görlitz, a beautiful town in Germany and my new home! Since moving here, I have wanted to know it better and to share it with others. This is what inspired me to start this website, to explore my new surroundings and to share them with you. This post is an introduction to the highlights of the city, please follow the links for more information!

Görlitz is a town of around 56,000 people. Situated on the Polish/German border and the banks of the Neiße River, Görlitz is the easternmost city in Germany and has a unique relationship to its Polish neighbors.  Before the redrawing of borders after World War II, the town of Görlitz was on both sides of the river. Today, with just a short walk across the Altstadtbrücke (Old Town Bridge) in Görlitz you arrive in its other half, the Polish city of Zgorzelec. The proximity and partnership of the two cities makes Görlitz a unique location where both cultures can be experienced and can benefit from one another. Take advantage of this by taking a stroll across the bridge to enjoy delicious Polish food or even take a day trip to one of the many lovely locations just a short distance away from Görlitz.

But let’s back up a bit! Görlitz was first mentioned in a document in 1071 as the small Sorbian village Gorelic. It is likely that this village existed on the hill where the Peterskirche (St. Peter and Paul Church) and the Untermark (Lower Market) exist today. Throughout its history, Görlitz has been a part of Lusatia, Bohemia, Saxony and Prussia. Today the region where Görlitz lies is called the Lower Silesian Upper Lusatia (Niederschlesische Oberlausitz) in the German federal state of Saxony.

Görlitz received town rights in 1303 and soon followed the right to mint coins, brew beer, sell cloth, and to store the woad plant used to dye the cloth blue. The making and selling of cloth was a big business in Görlitz and helped the town to thrive. Its location along the important trade route Via Regia made it a center for commerce. In 1346 Görlitz became a member of the Upper Lusatian Six City League along with Bautzen, Löbau, Zittau, Kamenz and Lauban. This cooperation helped keep the trade routes safe and brought prosperity to the cities involved.

The Lower Market (Untermarkt) in Görlitz, once home to prosperous cloth merchants, is lined with beautiful Renaissance and Gothic buildings. Take a stroll along the black cobblestone, feeling immersed in history, or enjoy a drink or meal in one of the many restaurants and cafes. These beautifully preserved sights have inspired many directors, like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino to make films here, leading to the town’s nickname “Görliwood”. The Lower Market boasts beautiful arcades as well as hall houses such as the Baroque House on Neißstraße, also home to the gorgeous Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences and one of the several great museums in town.

The Lower Market is also the center for many exciting events throughout the year in Görlitz, including the Altstadtfest (Old Town Festival), Schlesischer Christkindelmarkt (Silesian Christmas Market), and the Schlesischer Tippelmarkt (Silesian Pottery Market).

From the Lower Market you can walk down the beautiful Brüderstraße, a street lined with more beautiful and historic buildings as well as shops and cafes, to arrive at the Upper Market (Obermarkt), ringed with beautiful Baroque residences like the Napoleon House and crowned by the Kaisertrutz (Imperial Keep), a fortification that earned its name during the 30 Years’ War when it served as a defense against the imperial troops and today home to the Museum of History and Culture. Other remnants of the former city walls in Görlitz include the Reichenbacher Turm, Dicker Turm, and the Nikolaiturm.

Along with its historic towers and stunning merchant houses, Görlitz is also home to many beautiful pre-reformation churches open to visitors. The most visible and stunning is of course the Peterskirche***LINK TO PETERSKIRCHE*** which dominates the town’s skyline, but the other churches are worth a visit as well. The Dreifaltigkeitskirche is perhaps my favorite, with its beautiful interior and spooky legend. The Nikolaikirche is a monument to WWI soldiers and surrounded by an amazing, atmospheric graveyard and the Frauenkirche – although dwarfed by the surroundings buildings and traffic, is worth a visit. For those interested in sacred sites, the Heiliges Grab is a very accurate replica of the Holy Grave in Jerusalem, built in the late 1400s.

Beside the Frauenkirche is the famous Kaufhaus – a beautiful department store in Art Nouveau style that was featured prominently in the film Grand Budapest Hotel. The Kaufhaus is currently only open sporadically to visitors but there are plans to reopen it as a department store in the future.

Görlitz also has a lot to offer for those looking to commune with nature. The Landeskrone is the city’s mountain. At 420 meters high (1378 ft), the mountain is a popular place for locals to hike and once on top, affords a beautiful view of the area. The mountain lends its name to the local brewery and while you are up there you can enjoy a cold Landskron.

A recent addition to the area is the Berzdorf Lake. Once a lignite mine, it was filled in with water in 2013 and is now a popular place for people from Germany, Poland and Czechia to swim, bike, cycle and play.

You will be stunned at how beautifully preserved Görlitz is – as well as how lucky. Few German cities can boast an old town as unspoiled by the scars of war and modernization. During World War II the town was spared from major damage, the main losses being all seven bridges which were blown up by the retreating Wehrmacht during the final days of the war. During GDR times the old town was left mostly abandoned and the old buildings began to crumble and decay. If the Wall hadn’t come down in 1989, the old town might have met the same fate as many other cities during this time – being torn down to make way for modern buildings and apartments. In addition to these strokes of luck, the city also had a secret admirer! Beginning in 1995, an anonymous donor gifted the city with one million Deutsche Mark (approximately € 511,500) each year for the purpose of renovating and renewing the old town. In 2017 the town was notified that the donations would be ending – but the evidence of this amazing gift can be seen all around the city today and the identity of the benefactor remains a mystery.

Görlitz can be easily reached by car, train or plane and is close to several major destinations:

  • Berlin approximately 217 km (135 miles)
  • Dresden approximately 110 km (68 miles)
  • Prague approximately 167 km (104 miles)
  • Wrocław approximately 173 km (107 miles)

So, now that you’ve read this post I am sure you are dreaming about your next trip to Görlitz, and I certainly can’t blame you! Be sure to check out my other posts for more information or contact me if you would like some personalized tips for your stay, I am always happy to help and eager for others to experience Görlitz!