|Church of St Peter and St Paul and Görlitz viewed from the Polish town of Zgorzelec across the river Neisse|
It is a bit of a journey to get there, as Görlitz is about 210km SE of Berlin, but well worth the effort. In fact, I would rate it up there as one of the nicest German towns we have been to. We set out early on 27th July and reached it via an RE train to Cottbus then a change onto the Ostdeutsche Eisenbahn (ODEG). All in all it takes about 2 hours 40 minutes from Berlin Hauptbahnhof, so take along a packed lunch and a good book for the journey.
First impressions on getting off at Görlitz Hauptbahnhof is of a town deserted. Abandoned and boarded-up buildings top the high street, and there was hardly anybody about.
|Hotel on Berliner Str.|
'Objekt zu verkaufen'
Any offer please? Please!!!
|Merkur Drug Store|
Also for sale.
|Kunstbrunnen „Die Tanzende“, corner of Salomonstraße|
Wandering further down Berliner Straße you soon come to the Straßburg Passage, a shopping arcade dating back to the turn of the twentieth century and showing some classic Art Nouveau style.
|Straßburg-Passage entrance, Görlitz|
Also here, actual shoppers! You wouldn't think this was a Saturday lunchtime in the city centre. Not that this charming chappy seemed to mind:
|Kaiser Wilhelm Teddy Bear in a shop window in the Straßburg-Passage|
Not Karl-Marx Platz. Definitely not.
Surprise, surprise the square was re-named Karl-Marx Platz in DDR times, and a monument to the memory of the vicitims of fascism erected. Surprise, surprise, the square's name was changed back to Wilhelmplatz in 1990, though the monument was left untouched:
|Memorial to the victims of Fascism|
Yet another abandoned drug-store up for sale
Next to the Frauenkirche is the former Görlitzer Kaufhaus (now a Karstadt) bedecked with wonderful Jugenstil statues looking down on the one shopper.
Not far from here is der Frauenturm (women's tower), also called the Dicker Turm or tubby tower. It does deserve its nickname, as it is a bit inelegant. It is a matter of form determining function though, as this 13th century tower was part of the city's defences and overlooked a portcullis and drawbridged gate in the city walls.
|Frauenturm / Dicker Turm|
From here, it is a short distance to the Obermarkt, with its elegant town-house, hotels and shops from many different eras; Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Gründerzeit, Jugendstil. Not many (any?) modern architecture though. Except for the blowing up here of bridges across the Neiße and some damage to the corner house on the Obermarkt (the yellow one shown below, restored in DDR times), Görlitz survived the Second World War relatively unscathed. This gives the city, and the Altstadt in particular, an authenticity that is lacking in many German towns.
A bridge over the Neiße leads to the Polish town of Zgorzelec. Görlitz and Zgorzelec were at one time both the same town, until the bridges linking them were demolished and the Neiße became the German/Polish border. As ever, stepping across the rebuilt bridge into Poland really is like entering a different country. Which of course it is. We went to a lovely Polish restaurant near the base of the tower shown in the photo below, and sat in the glorious sunshine on the riverside terrace enjoying a meal of pierogis, krokiety, and borscht soup whilst taking in the view of the church of St Peter and St Paul shown at the top of this blog.
|Bridge across the Neiße to Zgorzelec|
There was some kind of music and acrobatic thing going on.
Zgorzelec looked like it had less to offer the tourist, so after a walk along the river bank we headed back over the border, something that we couldn't have done only twenty or so years ago. No wonder Zgorzelec is now so different from Görlitz.
|Entrance to the church of Saints Peter and Paul|
|Alley off Neißstrasse|
Though my photos seem to show few people about, this was actually the busiest part of town. There were numerous packs of international tourists being led around by guides, people chilling out in the pavement restaurants, and every half an hour there seemed to be a wedding at the Rathaus accompanied by convoys of bridal cars flying 'just married' banners and honking their horns. The picture-perfect spiral steps in the above photo had a guy with a sweeping brush on permanent duty just to sweep away the confetti after the happy couples emerged from the Rathaus and had their photos taken.
We had a cooling ice-cream at the top of the hill, accompanied by a Linux penguin, whilst planning our further explorations of Görlitz.
|Pinguin Eisbar, Görlitz|
To the massive defensive bastion known as the Kaisertrutz.
With floral clock
This was once the major gateway into Görlitz on the Via Regia trade-route, with the Obermarkt just beyond:
|Back at the Obermarkt again|
Starting to get weary now, we still managed to make time to check out the monument to the 15th meridian (15 degrees longitude). Görlitz straddles this meridian, making it the most Easterly city in modern Germany, and also meaning that on this line local time is exactly one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
|Monument to the exact position of Meridian 15|
Then we took some last minute snaps of the local residents before heading back to the Hauptbahnhof.
Our lasting impressions are of Görlitz as a beautiful mid-European city with a rich history that has survived intact, but ... where have all the people gone?