A perfect weekend: Where to start in Görlitz? At the endless number of magnificent buildings in the historic center? The world-class museums? Guided tours through the film sets of "Görliwood" or culinary delights? And then there are excursions into the beautiful surroundings, to St. Marienthal and Zittau, for example, or to the Prince Pückler Park. So: There is a lot to do!
Who Goerlitz instantly becomes a time traveler. Because 4,000 carefully restored architectural monuments from half a millennium of European architectural history can be discovered within a short distance. The buildings from the late Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Art Nouveau periods are among the best preserved in Central Europe. And there is another special feature of the city: Divided after the war, Görlitz was declared a European City of Görlitz/Zgorzelec in 1998 along with its Polish sister city. The Peace Bridge, under which the Neisse River flows, connects them.
Thanks to the city center, which was not destroyed in World War II, Görlitz is the largest area monument in Germany. Especially the buildings in the old town fascinate the viewer: Renaissance burgher houses with richly decorated facades, ornate vaults and painted ceilings, magnificent courtyards and Baroque portals. Among the most striking buildings is the town hall, the oldest parts of which date back to the middle of the 14th century. Admirable are the town hall staircase and the dials of the clock on the town hall tower from 1524.
How to get to Görlitz by train: Plan arrival.
The View of the city center reveals that Görlitz was a rich city. Located on the "via regia", it was considered an influential center of trade and science in Europe in the Middle Ages. Trade was mainly in "woad and cloth" - the unique hall houses with driveways so wide that a complete horse-drawn carriage could fit through them date from the time of the clothiers. The municipal theater, the Art Nouveau department store, the representative railroad station building and the post office square represent the largest closed Gründerzeit quarter, it was built around 1900.
The history of the city can be traced in the Museum of Cultural History and its Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences. The Senckenberg Museum of Natural History provides insight into the nature of Upper Lusatia, the Silesian Museum into the rich culture. The Landskron brewery from 1869, behind whose brick walls traditional methods are still used, offers a special kind of monument visit; tasting the barley juice is a delight. A break in one of the beautiful cafés is also enjoyable. Must try: Silesian poppy seed dumplings, also called Mohnpielen - freshly sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar a poem.
"Film off" is the motto of a guided tour through the Film City Görlitz: Around 100 national and international productions stopped here, including the star-studded and four-time Oscar®-winning Hollywood comedy "Grand Budapest Hotel" by Wes Anderson, "The Reader" with Kate Winslet and "Around the World in 80 Days" with Jackie Chan. In the ARD crime series "Wolfsland," the city is now playing itself for the first time, alongside the detective duo Yvonne Catterfeld and Götz Schubert. Görlitz is Görliwood® and even wins an award as THE European film location of the decade.
And then you learn: Görlitz tastes. And how! Dinner in one of the pretty Old Town restaurants, means dining at the highest level. Whether traditional Silesian, Bohemian or international cuisine, the Görlitz innkeepers know their trade. A classic is, for example, the Silesian Himmelreich, for the favorite dish of the city on the river Neisse one takes Kasselerkamm, dried plums, apricots, a few juicy dumplings as well as flour and butter for the sauce. Dining here is often combined with an exciting excursion into the architectural past - in the torchlit vaults of historic walls around Unter- and Obermarkt, Neißstraße and Peterstraße, it has a very special flair.
The European City is also a stop on the Via Sacra tourist route. It runs through Upper Lusatia to Lower Silesia and connects nine places in Saxony with remarkable sacral treasures, including those in Görlitz. An absolute highlight here is the ensemble of the Holy Sepulchre - the oldest symbolic landscape garden in Europe commemorates the Passion of Jesus with three sacred buildings and is a place of pilgrimage and devotion. The entire complex is a replica of the most important parts in the great Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, which the former mayor Georg Emmerich had reconstructed here in Görlitz in 1465 after his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Görlitz with its spiritual places is also an ideal starting point for pilgrimage. The monasteries, churches and pilgrimage paths in Saxony offer a suitable environment for drawing strength and for taking time out for inner reflection. Through one of the most beautiful areas of Upper Lusatia, for example, goes the Zittau Way of St. James, about 40 kilometers long, which leads directly from the heart of the city of Görlitz to Zittau and Oybin always along the river Neiße.
Halfway between Görlitz and Oybin stands for almost eight centuries the Monastery Convent St. Marienthal. The abbey near Ostritz is the oldest women's monastery of the Cistercian order in Germany and received its current face in the Bohemian Baroque style between 1685 and 1756. In addition to the International Meeting Center, a monastery market, the former brewery and the historic sawmill are interesting for visitors here, who can later fortify themselves with Upper Lusatian specialties in the historic monastery tavern.
With the backpack on the back and enough provisions, we continue from the monastery on a scenic trail to Zittau. In Zittau, the pilgrim should take enough time: The Large and the Small Lenten Cloth in the Museum Kirche Zum Heiligen Kreuz and in the Cultural History Museum Franziskanerkloster are not only beautiful, but at the same time an invitation to inner contemplation. Particularly fascinating is the Great Lenten Cloth from 1472, which as a masterfully designed "picture bible" shows 90 scenes from the Old and New Testaments on more than 55 square meters of cloth.
Those who have enough time can make a visit to the most famous peak in the Zittau Mountains plan. The 514-meter-high Oybin is a huge sandstone massif located in the middle of a valley basin surrounded by volcanoes. From a distance it looks like a beehive. The grandiose ruins of medieval buildings make Oybin one of the main sights of Upper Lusatia, and Germany's easternmost low mountain range is also a wonderful hiking area. From the Zittau train station, the Zittau narrow-gauge railroad makes its way beautifully to Oybin - it could hardly be more romantic or more comfortable.
Another worthwhile excursion from Görlitz leads about 65 kilometers to the north. There, the Neisse River flows through one of the most famous landscape ensembles on the continent - the Prince Pückler Park in Bad Muskau. Its creator, the lord of the manor, landscape architect and travel writer Hermann Prince von Pückler-Muskau, created a garden kingdom of considerable dimensions here from 1815, and subsequent owners expanded it. Today, as a UNESCO-protected cultural heritage site, Pückler Park is on a par with the gardens at Versailles.
A double bridge over the Neisse River connects the two halves of the 830-hectare complex on German and Polish soil. On the left bank is the castle with its stables, the historic tropical house and the orangery built in Moorish style; on the right bank are the arboretum and the Braunsdorf fields, among others. But that's not all, from here paths lead further into the cultural landscape of Lusatia, which offers even more variety with many other sights, perhaps for a next visit and the one after that.
Cover photo: The European City of Görlitz/Zgorzelec is the easternmost city in Germany and impresses as one of the largest area monuments of architecture © Nikolai Schmidt
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