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Anyone been to Goerlitz?

My wife and I are considering visiting Goerlitz for 2 nights (1 full day) in May during our 3-week trip to Germany. I read about it in an earlier edition of Rick Steves' guidebook and it sounded like a cool small town off-the-beaten-path.

Would anyone who has been there recommend it? If so, how would you recommend we spend our day?

Or should we consider a different small town in the eastern part of Germany instead?

Posted by
868 posts

I think that's a very good idea. First of all: if you like architecture you will love Görlitz. The town was never destroyed (even the synagogue survived), and the different architectural styles surround the centre like onion rings, from Gothic to Commie architecture. There are quite a few cool hotels in preserved Renaissance or Baroque buildings, like Tuchmacher, Börse or Frenzelhof. The cuisine is also unique. Görlitz belonged to Silesia for some time, and after 1945 many expelled Silesians settled there. Today it's the only place where you can get authentic Silesian food, which is largely forgotten in Polish Silesia now. Or you can cross the border and try Polish food if you like. Speaking of Silesia: there is also the Silesian museum, a state musem run by the government and the state of Saxony which keeps a largely forgotten world alive.
I think you can easily spend a full day in Görlitz. Explore the old town, and don't forget the Nikolai quarter a bit outside with the Baroque cemetery and the Holy Sepulchre, climb up the Reichenbach tower, visit a museum and a restaurant (like the Dreibeiniger Hund = three-legged dog), see the huge Gründerzeit quarters, or maybe walk to the former Upper Lusatian hall of fame, which looks like the Reichstag in Berlin, on the now Polish side.
You could actually spend a lot more time there, since Upper Lusatia, the historic region around Görlitz, is very unique and beautiful. You could, for instance, rent a bike and follow the Neisse river to the south until you reach the baroque monastery of St. Marienthal. Very popular among the locals. One hour away from Görlitz is Bautzen, the historic capital of Upper Lusatia and the Sorbs, a Slavic minority. Bautzen offers a beautiful baroque old town surrounded by massive medieval fortifications. One hour to the north is the park of Bad Muskau, which is a World Heritage Site. One hour to the south is Zittau, a mostly preserved town with two huge and unique medieval lenten veils. From Zittau you can take the nostalgic steam train to Oybin in the Zittau mountains. In Oybin you can visit the romantic ruins of a huge castle, planned as the old age residence of emperor Charles IV, on a mountain that looks like a beehive. And with a car you could see some of the cute villages in the area, which offer some very unique timber-framed houses (called Umgebinde) that exist only in this part of Germany.
Here is a nice gallery of this area (Görlitz and many places I mentioned):
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=869852
Umgebinde houses:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UpperLusatianhouse
And a pic of St. Marienthal:
http://media.belocal.de/127616/2000x1339_0,0c.jpg

Posted by
42 posts

Thank you! Görlitz does sound like a great place to visit. We will include it in our itinerary.

Posted by
1770 posts

We visited this May as a day trip from Dresden by train. It is a pretty town with several sights, but we pretty much just strolled and wandered around all day. As I understand, the city was not damaged during the war so what you see is not reconstructed. A pleasant day, really, when you can just amble and stop for coffees or Ice cream or beer with no " must do " agenda. Hmm. Actually, we stopped for all of those during the day! We walked across into Poland for supper, the prices are way lower than the German side. From Dresden it was easy to see in a day for us. FWIW, this is the heart of mustard country and a shop in Gorlitz sold hundreds of varieties, a boon to both us and our mustard loving friend who has come to rely on our European souvenirs to keep him stocked.

Posted by
42 posts

That sounds like a nice way to spend a day - thank you!

Posted by
8 posts

I agree with Martin from Germany 100% If you happen to stay in Bautzen, I recommend Haus Bucheim, which has an apartment that opens on to the rooftop. There's also a great Italian restaurant down the street and I don't mean American Italian. :)

Posted by
868 posts

Yes, Buchheim is a good hotel, in a very picturesque street. In case you like it medieval and romantique I recommend Hotel Schloss-Schänke, which offers rooms in one of the towers of the fortifications.

PS: the mustard actually comes from Bautzen (the brand is called "Bautz'ner"). It's the maket leader in Eastern Germany, just like Löwensenf is the market leader in Southern Germany. There is also a little museum and a shop in Bautzen.

Posted by
12400 posts

Good to know about Löwensenf. It's available here in San Francisco, those little bottles.

Posted by
123 posts

Since 1945 eastern part of Görlitz is in Poland and has name Zgorzelec. You can visit the town situated on the other side of the river Lusatian Neisse (German: Lausitzer Neiße, Polish: Nysa Łużycka). There are many monuments in the center of the town.
Greetings from Szczecin
Michal

Posted by
4700 posts

I am planning to make my first visit to Görlitz in April. Coincidentally, I noticed that the new Wes Anderson movie "The Grand Budapest Hotel" was filmed in Görlitz in 2013. A big old department store in town, the Gorlitzer Warenhaus, that had been shuttered was taken over by the film production and used for the hotel. Google for "grand budapest hotel Görlitz" for more information. I will see the film soon and then will seek out the building when I get to town.

Posted by
868 posts

Parts of Inglourious Basterds, The Monuments Men, The Reader or Jackie Chans Around the World in 80 Days were also filmed there. Many productions work in this area now, most probably because Prague became too expensive (and touristy).

Posted by
12400 posts

@ Andrew....If you choose not to stay in Görlitz, then I would suggest Dresden, from which a day trip r/t to Görlitz is quite feasible. Plus going to Bautzen, another historical city, from Dresden. On the other hand, if you have the time to set aside a few days for Görlitz and crossing (walking) the Oder into Poland, as sugested above, then stay in Görlitz. Frankfurt an der Oder offers the same opportunity of walking across the bridge into Poland, no passport checks, nothing. I saw that in 2011.

Posted by
4700 posts

Thanks, Fred. Dresden is most definitely on my agenda for a few nights already. I'm not sure whether I will day trip to Görlitz or stay a night - a day trip from Dresden sure looks easy, but I might also want a break from big cities (will also be in Berlin).

Posted by
12400 posts

@ Andrew....You're welcome. If you want to see the big historical museum, then go to Dresden-Neustadt, located in an area hardly or not touched by the bombing.

Posted by
12040 posts

If you like castles and old towns, also consider Meißen as a daytrip from Dresden.

Posted by
868 posts

You can easily do Görlitz or Bautzen on a day trip from Dresden. What you can't do in Dresden is to stay in a completely preserved, historic house, since such buildings don't exist there. At Frenzelhof in Görlitz for example you can see a preserved private chapel from 1500. Hotel Schwibbogen has a breakfest room with 500 year old wall paintings. Hotel Börse offers Baroque rooms. At Hotel Tuchmacher you sleep under Renaissance ceilings. Ditto for Hotel Italia. Destille has a Jewish Mikveh from the 15th century. I think there aren't many other places in Central Europe with equally good preserved interiors.

Posted by
12400 posts

I saw this fabulous film, am very glad I did, to say the least. Because of seeing the film and having my interest in the town picqued I have included Görlitz on my short list to visit in a summer trip. That also applies to walking across the Oder to the Polish side, just like at Küstrin an der Oder.

Posted by
4700 posts

I am back from Germany and can report that I enjoyed my visit to Görlitz very much. It's a beautiful town and hardly seems touristy at all. The fun is simply in walking around enjoying all of the neat old buildings. I also walked to the Polish side and had some pierogies at the Polish restaurant right at the Polish side of the pedestrian bridge.

I did spend a night in Görlitz. I am a photographer and wanted to photograph the bridge at dusk, plus I wanted to walk around in the morning (but it was raining). I suppose the average person could see Görlitz as a day trip from Dresden, but I'm glad I spent a night instead. Görlitz seemed like the kind of town where I'd like to go live for a year to try to absorb myself in local culture, even though I'm not sure what I would do in my spare time there (certainly not much to do compared to Berlin or Dresden - obviously they are huge cities).