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

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.