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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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!