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.

Day Trip to Großschönau

Slate tiles on a house in Großschönau Schieferhaus

This article originally appeared in the digital magazine Görlitz Town and Country in August 2018

One of my favorite things to do since moving to Görlitz is to take little day trips to explore my new home & all of its surroundings. I am always on the lookout for a new location to “discover”, so when I saw a special on MDR about Großschönau (Teure Tücher – Meterware aus der Oberlausitz), I was intrigued by the story of this small Upper Lusatian town that has such a long history of damask weaving.

Großschönau Mandau Fachwerk river
Along the Mandau River in the center of historic Großschönau

Großschönau is a small and picturesque town of around 5,800 people in Saxony, Germany and it shares a border with the Czech town Varnsdorf. Named for its location on a big, beautiful meadow (große schöne Aue), the Upper Lusatian town is about an hour drive away from Görlitz (47 km) and is also easily reachable by public transportation through connections in Zittau. Taking the bus from Zittau to Großschönau, I was transported back in time as we drove along curving narrow roads through rolling fields and little villages full of historic half-timber houses. I had read up about the town’s history with textiles before departing on my journey, but what I didn’t realize was just how gorgeous Großschönau would be.

View from Hutberg of Großschönau and the Zittauer Gebirge
View from the Hutberg of Großschönau and the Zittauer Gebirge in late winter

The town lies at the foot of the highest mountain in the Zittau mountain range, the Lausche (793 m) and on the floodplain of the Mandau and Lausur rivers. In fact, the town suffered a great deal of damage during August of 2010 when heavy rainfall caused the rivers to flood. Although this caused a great deal of destruction & loss of property, one can barely see the signs of this damage when walking through the historic center of the town as it has all been nicely repaired.

The most remarkable thing about Großschönau, besides its history of cloth-making, are its many half-timber houses (Umgebindehäuser). Dating back to the 17th to 19th centuries, these buildings are typical to the Upper Lusatian area and are characterized by their distinct architecture – a supporting wood frame with vertical and horizontal beams embraces the ground floor, and the upper floor rests on this frame. I found myself getting lost down various streets in the historic center of Großschönau, wanting to see all of these unique houses that have been so lovingly restored. Many of them also have slate tiles on the sides in varying patterns, which to me resemble the scales of a fish.

slate tiles on houses in Großschönau Germany Schiefer

The first mention of Großschönau in historical documents was in 1352 and it was founded as a blacksmith’s village but soon became world-renowned for damask and linen weaving. It all began in 1666 when the Zittau council sent two linen weavers, the brothers Lange, to Holland so that they could learn the art of damask and linen weaving and bring it back to the region. This industrial espionage was successful, as the two brought back with them the knowledge they had gained. The skills they had learned needed to be protected and so there were very strict rules for the weavers about leaving town or meeting with outsiders.  These cloths and the knowledge of the weavers were jealously guarded just as Meissen guarded their “white gold” porcelain.

old textile loom at the museum in Großschönau

Damask weaving, which took a great deal of time and effort to produce, is characterized by its beautiful and complex designs woven into the often single-color fabric by contrasting the weaving patterns. The small town of Großschönau became the center for artful design and technical perfection in damask weaving and their cloths were coveted by the elite. Unless you had money to spend on table cloths that were as costly as gold or silver, as an average person you would probably never lay eyes on some of these exquisite pieces. It’s lucky for us that today you can see over 600 examples of these beautiful works of art and skill in the German Damask and Terry Museum in Großschönau (http://www.ddfm.de).

The museum is housed in the Kupferhaus (copper house) built in 1809. Named for its copper roof, the building was home to the damask manufacturer Christian David Waentig. This small but fine museum in Großschönau is home to, not only an extensive collection of historic woven cloths and designs, but also to many historic weaving machines, like the Jacquard machine which revolutionized the way cloth was made in 1804. The Jacquard technique simplified the weaving process by controlling the loom with a chain of cards with holes punched into them. This invention turned out to be not only revolutionary for the weaving industry but for computing as well.

The Kupferhaus (copper house) has been home to a museum since it was gifted to the city in 1947.

Although there are much fewer people now employed in cloth-making in Großschönau than in former times, the textile industry continues to shape the economic structure of the community. Today there are two companies which sell their cloths worldwide: Damino GmbH (https://www.damino.de) and Frottana Textil & Co (http://www.frottana.de/), the former of which produces damask cloth in the form of table linens and sheets that are used frequently in hotels and on cruise ships and even damask clothing that are very popular with consumers in Africa. While visiting the town you can stop at the Damino outlet store and purchase a piece of the legacy of this town to adorn your own table at home.

While visiting Großschönau, whether you choose to explore it by foot or by bicycle, make sure to get lost along its curving little streets full of charming houses and to cross the numerous pedestrian bridges that cross the Mandau. While wandering, one should also take the opportunity to follow a path up the Hutberg mountain (371 m) for a view of the town from above and the Zittau mountains in the distance.

Although it’s a small town, Großschönau is brimming with beauty, charm and history and an important reminder to us explorers that veering off the well-traveled tourist path can pay off with some unique and memorable discoveries!

If you’re looking to travel to around the area using public transportation for the day, I recommend the Euro-Neiße ticket. It becomes cheaper if you are travelling with a group!

Church and cemetery in Großschönau
The Protestant-Lutheran church in Großschönau (1705) is the second largest village church in Saxony, able to accommodate 2000 churchgoers. Its greatest treasure is the altar piece “Christ’s Resurrection” painted by the artist Johann Eleazar Zeissig, born to damask weavers in Großschönau in 1737.

 

You might be interested in these other day trip locations in Germany that are easily reachable from Görlitz!

Mount Oybin Ruins

Mount Oybin is located near Zittau and is about an hour’s drive away from Görlitz (45 km). This mountain is famous for its castle and monastery ruins. Also famous is the narrow-gauge-railway where you can take a steam train from Zittau to Oybin.

oybin germany train station schmalspurbahn
Oybin Train Station

Mount Oybin is made of sandstone and 514 meters high. It’s a little bit of a hike up to the top (about 15 minutes), but mostly paved. There is an entrance fee to enter the ruins of the castle and monastery on top of Mount Oybin, so be sure to check out the opening times and prices on their website.

View from Mount Oybin in summer
View from Mount Oybin in winter
The Restaurant on Mount Oybin

We’ve now been to Mount Oybin twice, once in the summer and once in the winter, so don’t be astonished by the abrupt change in weather between my photos! These ruins are truly impressive and one feels transported back in time, imagining the monks who lived here. In the 1300s a church and residence were built on the mountain. The fortress proved impregnable after successfully fending off two attacks during the Hussite Wars. The castle and monastery fell out of use around the end of the 1500s when lightning struck the church and it burned down.

The ruins were “rediscovered” during the 1800s by artists such as Caspar David Friedrich, who appreciated the aesthetic of the massive, overgrown monastery ruins.

Caspar David Friedrich – The Dreamer (Ruins of the Oybin Monastery) Source: Wikipedia

Once on top of Mount Oybin, you can take a walk all around the summit, providing stunning views of the spa town Oybin as well as Zittau. Up here you can also find a restaurant and a graveyard. There are stairs that will take you to the top of the ruins for an even better view of the surroundings.

I really enjoyed our walk around Mount Oybin and was impressed by the preservation of these ruins and the views. It’s incredible when you think of the amount of work that went into creating something like this, on top of a mountain and without modern tools. There is a passageway through the stone that leads to the graveyard on top and a sign that tells you that this was chiseled away by hand from 1512-1515. If you look closely, you can see hundreds of thousands of chisel marks in the stone!

Passage chiseled through the stone

You might be interested in reading about these other day trips around Görlitz:

 

St. Marienthal Abbey

The St. Marienthal Abbey (Kloster St. Marienthal) is a beautiful nunnery that’s about a thirty minute drive (20 km) south from Görlitz, right on the Neiße River and the border to Poland.

The abbey was founded in 1234 and destroyed several times by fire or during war. In 1685 it was rebuilt in Baroque style, and then damaged during the flood in 1897. You can see the high water mark from the floods in 1897 and more recently in 2010 on the side of one of the buildings. The retreating German forces might have blown up the abbey at the end of WWII, but the nuns refused to leave and the building luckily survived.

Kloster St. Marienthal Abbey Ostritz
St. Marienthal Abbey
Kloster St. Marienthal Abbey Ostritz
St. Marienthal Abbey

The abbey is a cheerful pink color with green copper roofs. There are still nuns living there with regular masses as well as seminars and a meeting place for local organizations or places to stay for the night.

The abbey market has a large selection of regional gifts such as handmade crafts, beer, liquor and bread from their own bakery.

Kloster St. Marienthal Abbey Ostritz
St. Marienthal Abbey
Kloster St. Marienthal Abbey Ostritz
St. Marienthal Abbey

The breath-taking interior of the abbey has ornate patterns painted all over the ceiling. When we walked inside there were women up in the choir singing which set the mood quite well. As we walked out of the abbey, a tubby tabby came dashing through the door and between the pews. Worried about locking the cat inside the church for an unknown amount of time, I scurried after it. Fortunately it was agreeable with being picked up and cuddled a bit before being put back outside!

Abbey cat

The St. Marienthal Abbey is really lovely and worth a stop on your way south to other sites in Zittau or Oybin. Check out their website for events. There are tours of the abbey in German on Saturdays and Sundays at 3pm and from May to October every day at 3pm.

Kloster St. Marienthal Abbey Ostritz
St. Marienthal Abbey

You might be interested in reading about these other day trips around 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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