I bet many of you might not have heard of Goerlitz, Germany but I guarantee you know the place. Goerlitz is one of the favorite cities for filmmakers and numerous well-known American and German productions have been filmed here.
But that’s not the only reason to visit Goerlitz!
With so many things to do in Goerlitz, you should plan at least a weekend in Goerlitz to enjoy them all. But before you plan your trip to Goerlitz let me give you a bunch of reasons why you should consider visiting Goerlitz in the first place!
Table of contents
Where is Goerlitz
Goerlitz is located right on the Polish-German border.
And I mean literally at the border, it takes you some 3 minutes walk from the Untermarkt across the bridge on Lusatian Neisse river to get to the city of Zgorzelec in Poland. These two places, Goerlitz and Zgorzelec, used to be one city but were divided after World War 2.
Goerlitz is located in the middle between some of the popular destinations so you can easily include this German gem when traveling around Central Europe.
The town is some 100kms away from Dresden, Germany and 170kms away from Wroclaw, Poland and can be easily reached by road or train from both cities. If you travel between Dresden and Wrocław, Goerlitz makes a perfect stop.
Reasons to visit Goerlitz
For such a low-key town you might be surprised by all the Goerlitz attractions. There are just so many things to do and places to see in Goerlitz!
Below you can find five solid reasons why Goerlitz should be on your bucket list!
Beautiful architecture and historical monuments
Görlitz is one of the very few cities in that part of Europe that weren’t damaged during World War II hence it’s rich in monuments and buildings in various architectural styles.
There’re 13th century churches, 16th century town hall or 19th century department store. Goerlitz is considered to be one of the best preserved cities in Central Europe!
The city kind of looks like from a fairy tale.
It is full of beautiful buildings, charming corners, winding lanes, and towers you can climb to get a new perspective of Goerlitz. I’m sure you will fall in love with it right away, just like I did.
Wandering aimlessly around and discovering the beauty of the city is one of the best things you can do in Goerlitz!
I wasn’t the only one who fell for Goerlitz. Due to its charm, beauty and historical center, the city is among the favorite locations for filmmakers.
You would be surprised how many well-known movies were filmed in Goerlitz!
You probably have heard of “Around the world in 80 days” (2004), “The Reader” (2009), “Inglorious Bastards” (2009), “Grand Budapest Hotel” (2014) or “The Book Thief” (2014) – they were all shot in Goerlitz and if you watch carefully you can recognize the city in some of the scenes.
After my recent trip to Goerlitz I rewatched “Grand Buapest Hotel” and not only I liked it much more than the first time, I also saw so many familiar places!
Goerlitz is such a grand movies location it was even awarded as the European Film Location of the decade in 2017.
One of the most popular places known from the movies is the former department store (Kaufhaus), dating back to the beginning of the 20th century. Its beautiful interior was a set for the Grand Budapest Hotel and you can see it in numerous scenes.
Unfortunately, the department store is closed now and waits for the renovation but if you are lucky you might stumble across it being opened and then you can admire its beauty in the full glory.
If you would like to trace movie locations in Goerlitz be sure to visit the local tourism office and get a free map with all the places. It’s a huge help and you will be sure you don’t miss any spot.
Perfect base to explore three countries
Goerlitz has a perfect location and can be your base to explore the nearby areas in Germany, Poland, and even the Czech Republic.
Start with Zgorzelec, just across the Lusatian Neisse river.
It used to be a suburb of Goerlitz but after World War 2 the city was divided by the state border between Poland and Germany (story a bit similar to my favorite Cieszyn and Cesky Tesin, divided by the Polish-Czech border).
Although the majority of monuments stayed in Germany you shouldn’t dismiss Zgorzelec. The area right across the bridge, along Lusatian Neisse is really pretty, with colorful houses and cobbled streets but the real highlight of the city is House of Culture, a grand building with impressive exterior and interior.
In Zgorzelec you can also find one of the biggest military cemeteries in Poland with over three thousand graves (and perfectly symmetrical crosses) as well as numerous examples of modernist architecture.
Be sure to have the passport or ID with you when visiting Zgorzelec, even if both Germany and Poland are part of Schengen and there is no border control you are still entering another country.
Not far from Goerlitz you can find another interesting and beautiful Polish town – Bolesławiec, famous for its porcelain and charming old town. Another option is Jelenia Góra – not only it is so pretty, the town is also a perfect getaway to the mountains and numerous palaces and castles.
You should also visit Zittau, Germany with a pretty center and steam trains.
From there you can easily get to Liberec in the Czech Republic which is a surprisingly great city with lots to do and see: old villas, a beautiful old town that is often a movie set too and a nature right at the outskirts.
Another interesting nearby destination is Bautzen, only half an hour away by train. This is the capital and the cultural center of Lusatia and that’s already a good reason to visit Bautzen. But you will also find here lots of winding lanes and beautiful center, just like in all the other destinations mentioned above.
You can visit all these places in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic with Euro Neisse ticket which is a very good deal: for €16 only (or less if there are more people traveling) you can use for one day trains, buses and public transport in a fairly big area of these three countries.
And Goerlitz is exactly in the center of this area! You can learn more about Euro Neisse ticket here.
If you have a car you can also drive from Goerlitz to Saxon Switzerland and Bohemian Switzerland – a stunning region on the German-Czech border, famous for the fortresses and amazing nature with rock formations.
Lots of photo opportunities
Many people travel for perfect pictures and Goerlitz is a perfect Instagrammable location, not really known by many (so you can be sure you won’t find a lot of similar pictures in this most famous social media channel).
Even if you are not a fan of Instagram you will still appreciate the beauty of Goerlitz.
Besides the charming lanes and corners you will stumble across all over the city there are a few interiors you might want to check out:
- Kaufhaus Goerlitz, the former department store known from “Grand Budapest Hotel” movie, with beautiful art nouveau interior
- Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences – a beautiful place with the impressive collection of over 140.000 volumes. Founded in the 18th century, it is often referred to as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world
- Goerlitz Hauptbahnhof – the main train station in the city, built at the beginning of the 20th century with the beautiful interior (especially ceiling is stunning)
- Ratscafe – probably the most charming cafe in Goerlitz, located at Untermarkt, in the very heart of the Old Town. This is one of the most beautiful renaissance buildings in Goerlitz. Inside you will find arches, plants, old-style interior and of course delicious food, desserts, and drinks
- Yard at Untermarkt – you need to enter the gate at the yellow house, two houses on the left from Ratscafe, to find a charming yard with the signs from “Around the World in 80 Days”
- Gerhart-Hauptmann-Theater with yet another beautiful interior
- House of Culture in Zgorzelec – the former Upper-Lusatian Hall of Glory, opened in 1902, impresses with its stunning interior and especially grand copula
- not the building but don’t miss the border bridge between Goerlitz and Zgorzelec, Germany and Poland. It’s pretty cool to walk easily from one country to another.
Numerous Goerlitz quirks and curiosities
With all the centuries of history, there are so many interesting facts about Goerlitz that make the place even more intriguing! And I’m not even talking about crossing from one country to another within one minute, although that’s already really cool!
Did you know that…
- Goerlitz is considered the city with the highest number of monuments in Germany, with over 4.000 historical buildings?
- this is the easternmost city in Germany and the first one to welcome the sunrise in the country?
- in Goerlitz you can find the replica of Holy Sepulchre from Jerusalem? It was built in 1504 and it hasn’t been damaged ever since. The place is known as the most accurate replica of the Holy Sepulchre from the Old City in Jerusalem.
- clocks in Goerlitz show exactly Central European Time because the town is located right at the 15th line of longitude?
- the clock at Holy Trinity Church rings the hour seven minutes too early? It happens to commemorate the 1527 uprising when the traitor demanded to ring the bells earlier – as a result, the uprising collapsed.
- in Goerlitz you will find the oldest renaissance secular building north of the Alps? Schoenhof was built in 1526 and is a truly remarkable building. Today you can find the Silesian Museum there.
These are only a few interesting facts about the town. Once you visit Goerlitz you will find so many more quirks, stories, and curiosities that will show you how fascinating place it is!
Final thoughts on visiting Goerlitz, Germany
I visited Goerlitz twice.
In 2012 I was surprised and overwhelmed with the place. I didn’t expect such a beautiful town, full of history and interesting places and I was running frantically around, not knowing where to start my sightseeing as there was so much to see and do.
In 2019 I was again running frantically around – I knew very well what to expect from Goerlitz but I had very limited time but I wanted to see everything (of course this didn’t happen).
Be sure to plan at least one full day in Goerlitz (preferably more), don’t follow my mistakes and give yourself plenty of time to get to know the city.
You can see that Goerlitz is definitely worth visiting, all you have to do now is plan your own trip there!
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