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Görlitz-Information, Obermarkt 32
Season opening hours:
Monday - Friday: 9.00 am - 7.00 pm Saturday/Sunday/bank holiday: 9.00 am - 6.00 pm
Low season opening hours (November 2nd - March 29th):
Monday - Friday: 9.00 am - 6.00 pm Saturday: 9.30 am - 4.00 pm Sunday/bank holiday: 9.30 - 2.00 pm
The Lusatian Görlitz is a 250 km long river. The river has its source in the Jizera Mountains near Nová Ves nad Nisou, Czech Republic, reaching Poland and Germany at Zittau and later forms the Polish-German border on a length of about 200 km. It is a left tributary of the Oder River.
Since the river runs through the historic region of Lusatia, the adjective before the name of the river Neiße differentiates this particular river from the Glatzer Neisse (Nysa Klodzka) and the small Nysa Szalona in Silesia.
According to the 1945 Potsdam Agreement it became the Polish western border with Germany as a result of World War II (Oder- Neiße line) and thus the most notable of the three rivers named Neiße/Nysa. It is therefore often simply called Neiße.
You can watch my high resolution photo of Görlitz on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 51° 9' 27.63" N 14° 59' 39.48" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Neiße.
The redrawing of boundaries in 1945 — in particular the relocation of the German-Polish border to the Oder-Neiße line — divided the town. The right bank became part of Poland and was named Zgorzelec in 1948 while the main portion became part of the German land of Saxony.
Today Görlitz and Zgorzelec are two cities on opposite banks of the river.
Since the fall of communism in 1989 Zgorzelec and Görlitz have developed a close political relationship. Two of the numerous bridges over the Neisse River that had been blown up by retreating German forces in World War II have been rebuilt, reconnecting the two towns with one bus line.
You can watch my high resolution photo of Görlitz on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 51° 9' 29.93" N 14° 59' 35.85" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio View from Görlitz on Zgorzelec.
Görlitz is first recorded back in 1071. The city grew at the intersection of Europe’s oldest and most important trade routes. One of them was the "Via Regia", which connected Kiev to Santiago de Compostela. Over the centuries, Görlitz became an influential centre of trade and science.
It is located opposite the Polish town of Zgorzelec, which was a part of Görlitz until 1945. Görlitz is the largest city in the Silesian part of the current Germany.
In contrast to most other German cities it wasn’t destroyed during World War II because no bombs fell on Görlitz during WWII (only on its bridge).
You can watch my high resolution photo of Görlitz on the Google Earth according to the following coordinates 51° 9' 17.86" N 14° 59' 7.96" E or on my Google Earth Panoramio Görlitz from Reichenbacher Turm 1.
Very high on my list of objects for the visit at European Heritage Day ranked the apartment houses built in Art Nouveau style.
Görlitz has numerous excellent (and perfectly preserved) examples of townhouses (apartment houses) of this style. They are usually not accessible inside - unlike the department store or Strassburg passage - but on that special day some of them are open to visitors.
In 2004 I was able to see some beautiful apartments in the apartment building Joliot-Curie-Strasse 4 (pictures). It was built 1903/04 by a retired man from Greifenberg who planned to move to Görlitz. The architecture is still related to Neo-Renaissance, but the facade is decorated with Art Nouveau elements. There are beautiful paintings and stained glass windows in the staircase (picture), in the apartments I saw lovely stucco works, wooden panels, doors with stained glass windows etc.
Görlitz is the easternmost point in the Federal Republic of Germany. The Polish border follows the rivers of Oder and Neiße and here the Neiße has its farthest bend to the East.
Better not discuss this matter with right-wing nationalists, though. There were times when the German borders extended much, much further East. Some ultras still consider landscapes like Silesia, Pomerania, and Eastern Prussia part of “Germany”. However, the armistice of 1945 and the following treaties declared the line along Oder and Neiße rivers the Eastern border of Germany. Accepting this border and abandoning all further claims has been an essential part of the political process that lead to peace in Europe, and a friendly coexistence between Germany and its Eastern neighbours. Times have changed, for which we can be grateful.
Görlitz is located right on the meridian at 15° longitude. This is the middle of the Central European timezone.
Görlitz and Zgorzelec - in former times this was one town on both banks of the river. When the Neiße became the border between Germany and Poland in 1945 it was divided and the halves went separate ways.
Nowadays the two towns are cooperating in many ways. They even applied together for European Cultural Capital 2010 and had good chances. They were one of the two last of Germany's ten candidates but in the end lost to Essen.
In 2004 the new pedestrian and cyclist bridge between the town centres was opened. Now it is an easy walk from Germany to Poland and vice versa. Do the walk, and enjoy the beautiful panorama of old Görlitz from the Polish river bank.
Fondest memory: To me as a West German who grew up in times of Cold War and Iron Curtain, the Neiße was as far away as the moon. To be able to walk across the bridge without passport, visa, controls and restrictions is an amazing feeling. So much has changed for the better in the last 20 years. We had the dream but nobody seriously thought it would ever come true. Since 1989, it has...
The main post office in Goerlitz on the post square is quite an eyesight. Inside it's rather modern but the facade is worth a look.
To the left of the post office is the bus stop for the bus to Zgorzelec.
There is another post office next to the railway station but without public service. But take a look at the iron work of the windows.
The ride there was lovely as we passed both pastoral scenes and medieval towns that proved Saxony every bit as scenic as it’s more famous German counterparts. On arrival, we decided to make a pit stop for a snack much needed by not only Sandy and Dave but also my heightened nausea brought about by the winding if pretty ride there. After refueling, we set out to explore what became immediately apparent as a charming and quite impressively historical town. An ancient church that remained not only intact but nearly in its original state was a particular favorite and with each turn we discovered one beautiful building after another. On crossing a small bridge, we found the Polish border and an incredible view of the city with the river dividing the two countries in the forefront.
We stopped again for lunch and found a cozy and quaint place serving up quite good meals, and though they even had a beer I’d never heard of, I decided to go for a non-alcoholic beverage as my cohorts were doing. I’d had enough the night before and besides, I was learning a good lesson today about the virtues of not always trying to get what you want. But indeed, finding what you need is well within your grasp if you trust others to sometimes lead you there.
Görlitz is perfect for walking. The city center if very compact but full of a fantastic array of architectural styles with gothic, renaissance, baroque, and art nouveau all well represented. One particular thing of interest are the innumerable doorways that line the cobblestone streets.
Fondest memory: Travel can bring you to exotic places, that is for sure but it can also bring you to places you never planned on going. Sometimes they are the best experiences as you have no expectations to let you down and by doing something someone else suggests you are not only giving over control but showing faith that something more important than your opinion exists.
And so it came to be that instead of a return trip to personal favorite Meissen (and a fantastic little restaurant serving up the local brewery’s entire lineup), I opted to go along with my father-in-laws plans to take us to Görlitz. The day started inauspiciously enough due to my being quite hung over from the previous day’s wedding. Since it was my very own, I had no one to blame but myself and the enjoyment I had more than made up for the queasy feeling made worse with every unexpected turn en route. We first had to pick up some wedding guests who also gave up a day to Meissen in favor of enjoying our company. Sandy and Dave turned out to be even better sports about the whole thing than me. Of course, they were also in much better shape than me with regard to adverse effects from the previous night’s consumption.
(concluded below in Fondest Memory)
Most of the merchant's townhouses in Görlitz remained their (late) Gothic structure - this is what Görlitz is famous for (among other facts :-)). But only few of them are always open. So it was yet more fascinating for me to explore some of the usually closed examples.
One of them is the building Peterstrasse 8 - now the four-star Hotel Tuchmacher. The house was built 1525 in early Renaissance style (portal, painted wooden ceilings etc.) but the former big central hall has still its late Gothic - and very special - vaulted ceiling. It is very similar to the famous ceiling in Prague's castle Hradschin (Hradcany) - the ceiling in the Wladyslaw Hall.
Other examples especially at the Untermarkt square, Brüderstrasse and other houses Peterstrasse.
Some of the townhouses in private ownership open their doors for visitors on European Heritage Day. I was very happy to be able to see some of the famous examples of Renaissance architecture.
The picture shows a sculptured Renaissance pillar in the 2nd floor room of the townhouse Brüderstrasse 10. The house was built 1570. The pillar is very beautiful: female masks and puttos, above the ionic capital reliefs of the building owner and his wife plus his coat-of-arms - and all that in wonderful colours.
Absolutely fascinating are also the many painted wooden Renaissance ceilings in many townhouses, which are usually perfectly preserved. Since Görlitz has so many famous townhouses from the Renaissance (Bible House, Schönhof ...) it is really hard to choose one :-)
One of the rare examples of Art Deco style in Saxony is to find in Görlitz - the former Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten (Four Seasons). It is located right vis-a-vis the railway station. The hotel was built in the 2nd half of the 19th century as an upscal accommodation.
The facade shows historistic architecture, but the interior was re-decorated 1927 in Art Deco style. The Lobby is the highlight; it is decorated with tiles in yellow and magenta colours and excellent quality. Allegoric figures of women in slightly frivolous pose symbolise the four seasons.
The hotel is at the moment closed and in need of restoration. It was open to visitors only for the European Heritage Day. Some local folks presented ideas to re-vitalise the hotel for one or the other purpose, but I am not very optimistic.
A little older than Art Nouveau art/architecture are the townhouses which were built in the 19th century. They usually quote architecture styles of previous centuries, such as Renaissance and Baroque (which are the most popular styles).
I stumbled by chance into one of those beautiful apartment houses (Blumenstrasse). The entrance hall and the staircase were accessible - absolutely amazing, see the picture.
Another object open to visitors was the former "Ständehaus" (a sort of parliament building), now a seniors residence. I joined a very interesting guided tour. We could see the entrance hall, the staircase and the big hall. Very beautiful again, inside late-classicistic style (the big hall renovated in 1900 in Art Nouveau style) and a sort of neo-gothic (castle-like) style from outside. Beside the architecture it was fascinating to experience the heartily, warm atmosphere in the seniors residence.
Did you know that the central European Time (CET) is set in Görlitz' It is because of the fifteenth meridian (longitude east) that runs through the middle of Görlitz. Every fifteenth meridian a new time zone is set.
15 meridians times 24 hours equal 360 degree (=a sphere)
Fondest memory: The Meridiane Stone close to the Polish/German border informs you about that feature.