Things to See

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.

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

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!

 

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!