We arrived in Görlitz during a trip through Saxony. A trip that showed that it is not at all necessary to go hen far away to have great adventures and unforgettable memories. Today, the city is quite inconspicuous, known by many Poles for being a border town and that’s it. So it’s time to show you that it’s worth crossing the bridge over the Neisse River and devoting at least one day to Görlitz, also known as Görliwood – see why!
Görlitz, or Zgorzelec…. return! We’ve already made this mistake once, so it’s time for a few words of explanation first to start. Görlitz is not the same city as Zgorzelec, although it used to be different. They are now two different cities, in two countries, but of course the border can be crossed without restrictions.
In this post we will focus only on the easternmost German city, Görlitz (Goerlitz).
And it is by no means just the location of Görlitz that makes it worth seeing, but rather the fact that it has well-preserved buildings. Unlike, for example, bombed-out Dresden, here no historic buildings were destroyed during World War II. The city has had many years of prosperity, mainly due to trade, its favorable location on the Neisse River and on the via regia trade route, as well as the development of industry in the region. It should be added that in its heyday it surpassed even the aforementioned Dresden in size, and at the beginning of the 20th century it was the second largest city in Lower Silesia after Wroclaw.
Not only are there well-preserved monuments in the city (and there are about 4,000 of them!), but we can also admire the well-kept and restored entire old town. Admittedly not destroyed, but neglected for many years, it began to flourish again after German reunification. Then the city received a cash injection, and architectural gems began to shine again. Interestingly, a major contribution was made by an anonymous donor who donated one million German marks a year, and in total donated more than 10 million euros!
However, it wasn’t just the sights that made us feel so comfortable here. It was the calm, almost idyllic atmosphere that surprised us more. As it happens in a typical tourist city with a beautiful old town, we expected crowds, noise and hustle and bustle, and here it just wasn’t there. It was possible to circulate quietly through the streets, take photos without any problems, enter a cafe or restaurant and always find a free seat.
It was a pleasure to walk around the center, seeing the townhouses and business houses. Visitors are encouraged to explore on foot, as most of the sites are located in the so-called “walking distance. walking distance.
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So what is worth seeing in Görlitz (Goerlitz)?
Remember, if you are planning what to see in Görlitz, you should also think about our Polish Zgorzelec. Here, however, we will focus on the attractions of Zgorzelec on the other side, namely in Görlitz ;-)
We started at the Lower Market Square (Untermarkt), where several important buildings are located. It was here that the city’s characteristic hall houses were located, here that the wealthiest merchants lived, and here that the heart of the city beat.
Attention is immediately drawn to the high cross vaults that allowed horse-drawn carriages with products for trade to enter the halls. The merchants’ houses were both halls where trade took place and dwellings.
And among these buildings, one stands out for its unique architecture and color. We are talking about the Schönhof building, which houses the Silesian Museum. It is the oldest German bourgeois house dating back to the Renaissance, and inside we can learn about the history of Silesia.
There is also the City Hall with the City Hall Tower, which offers a panoramic view of the city from a height of 60 meters. But before climbing to the top, it’s worth taking a look at the tower itself, especially the astronomical clock.
One of the most beautifully decorated buildings located on the square is the City Hall Pharmacy (Ratsapotheke). Currently, there is a cafe downstairs here.
Many people are attracted to building No. 22, or more specifically to the special arched portal, called the Arch of Whispers. It is known for its acoustic properties: a whisper from one end of the arc can be heard at the other end.
A completely different style from the hall houses is represented by the building next to the Lower Market – the Neißstraße Baroque House. The interior now houses the Museum of Cultural History.
The Upper Market (Obermarkt), is dominated by Baroque buildings. There is a parking lot in the middle of it, and the square itself is not off limits to traffic, so caution is advised.
You can direct your first steps here, as there is a Tourist Information at Obermarkt 32, where you can get all the information about the city, get maps and materials.
The Obermarkt is home to the 13th century built Church of St. Trinity (Dreifaltigkeitskirche), and at the other end of the square emerges the Reichenbach tower. This tower served as a defense until 1904.
The parish church of St. Peter and Paul
Pfarrkirche St. St. Peter und Paul, with its massive roof and two soaring towers, dominates the banks of the Lusatian Neisse River and the entire city. During our trip, the church was under renovation and was partially covered by scaffolding and tarps.
Its construction was completed at the end of the 15th century. Inside are Eugenio Casparini’s famous sun organ, which can imitate the voices of birds.
Right next to the church is the Waidhaus, the oldest secular building in Görlitz.
While we’re on the subject of St. Peter’s Church. In the vicinity of St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral, there is a bridge over the Neisse River, through which we can easily walk to Zgorzelec and cross the border. Today, however, we are focusing only on Görlitz, so we encourage you to walk across the bridge and look at the city from a distance.
A place far from the strict center, but very special. Well, in Görlitz you can find a copy of elements from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Interestingly, the building has not once been rebuilt or destroyed (since 1504!). The Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, the Chapel of the Holy Cross and the House of Anointing are located here.
Another place far away from the strict center, but we can’t leave it out here. Tierpark-Zoo in Gorlitz is a unique center where you can peep at animals, interact with them, feed and care for them, while learning about nature and environmental protection. Yes, we deliberately try not to use the name zoo here, although that is what first comes to mind. Absolutely not a typical zoo!
Here there are playgrounds (also indoor), hidden surprises, games for children…. here even the toilet is not ordinary, because while taking care of our needs we can peep at the animals…. or they us ;-)
We wrote a separate post about Tierpark, which we encourage you to read – click!
As called out in the introduction to this post, Görlitz is called Görliwood. Why? For the same reason that Lodz is called HoollyLodz ;)
This city, due to its unique architecture, diverse facilities and well-preserved buildings, is the set of various film productions, and scenes for more than 100 films have been shot here.
What kind of films were shot here? Many German, but also world-renowned productions, such as the Oscar-winning The Lektor with Kate Winslet and the Grand Budapest Hotel. Also Inglourious Basterds, but here the Oscar went “only” for a supporting role ;)
So if you like trips in the footsteps of movie shots, Görlitz may surprise you.
Görlitz – a route for children
Here we also can’t help but mention traveling with the little ones.
If you are traveling with children aged 7+, you can get a booklet at the tourist information, with which kids can look for various creatures among the sculptures, facades and ornaments in the city center. Inside is a map and photos of the items you need to look for as you traverse the city.
This not only gives children more fun, but also makes them pay attention and learn about the most interesting objects in Görlitz. Unfortunately, it is only in German, but we hope that in the near future it will also be in other languages :)
What to see in the Görlitz area?
If you are looking for ways to be active, you can head south to Lake Berzdorfer. Until recently it was an open-pit lignite mine, but now there is a swimming area with a sandy beach, bicycle paths, playgrounds and lots of greenery. Water sports can also be enjoyed here, of course, and swimming in the lake is permitted.
North of Görlitz, a place for families with children is certainly worthy of attention – the Mystery Land of Turisede, which is one large playground of fun, mystery and adventure combined with a hotel and restaurant. We wrote a bit about it in this post about Saxony and Upper Lusatia.
However, if you plan to go completely to the other side, we recommend you visit the Lusatian Museum in Zgorzelec in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship.
Below you will find a map with all the places described above:
We hope that with this entry we have encouraged you to visit Görlitz (German Zgorzelec). A city with an interesting history, very well preserved, and diverse in terms of architecture.
Have you been yet? What else would you add to our list? :)
We also recommend you our entry: Saxony – suggestions for a family trip.