"The most beautiful city in Germany"

With its more than 3600 historic buildings in Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Historistic style, Goerlitz is a perfect illustration of urban architecture over a 1000-year period. In 1946, “the Gateway to Silesia” became the easternmost German city. Since 1998, Goerlitz and Zgorzelec on the other bank of the Neisse River have been growing together into a German-Polish European city.

The Holy Sepulchre and the film location

“Goerlitz is the most beautiful city in Germany” said Professor Gottfied Kiesow, head of the German Foundation for Historic Buildings, pointing out that nowhere else in Germany was there such a concentration of intact historic buildings, stretching over several epochs. One of the city’s jewels, in cultural-historical terms, is the Holy Sepulchre, a facsimile of the original burial chapel in Jerusalem, sculptured in 1504, and unique throughout Europe. Schönhof is a further attraction, the oldest Renaissance merchant’s house north of the Alps, and home to the Silesian Museum since 2005. The city does not just attract tourists; filmmakers have also been drawn to the heart of Goerlitz. It appears as the setting of Hollywood’s remake of the Jule Verne classic “Around the World in 80 Days” – as Paris in the 19th century. And when “ The Reader” was filmed here on location, Kate Winslet, David Kross and other leading film actors used our apartment as their “Green Room” for breaks between shoots.

Wealthy merchant and trading city

In medieval times Goerlitz flourished though its trade with cloth and a special dye called dyer’s madder. It was situated on the “Via Regia”, the trade route running from Santiago de Compostela to Kiev. Between the Renaissance and the beginning of the Enlightenment, the cobbler and mystic Jacob Böhme was a force in the city and beyond. Hegel later called him “the first German philosopher”. In the 1779, the Society of the Sciences was founded.

Second Flowering as part of the Prussian province of Silesia

Goerlitz underwent a second flowering after the separation from Sachsen in 1815 and integration into the Prussian province of Silesia. Steam engines now drove the cloth looms. In 1847 the city was linked to Prussia’s and Saxony’s railway network. The railway wagons, built in Goerlitz were exported as far away as Russia, and in fact Germany’s first dining wagon came from Goerlitz’s railway works. In the course of the 19th century, the population grew from 10,000 to over 80,000.

1945, easternmost German city.

The city remained intact during World War II, becoming Germany’s easternmost city on the banks of the Neisse River, which became the border to Poland. The parts of town on the other side of the river became the city of Zgorzelec, whose population now largely consists of Polish people. In 1950, the authorities of the German Democratic Republic and the Republic of Poland signed an agreement on the Oder-Neisse river border.

Goerlitz recovers its former charm

The re-unification of Germany in 1990 brought changes to Goerlitz. It became “a model city for the restoration of historic buildings”. In the meantime a large proportion of the facades have been restored, and above all, the old town has regained its former charm. A pedestrian bridge once again links the German and the Polish cities. The Polish “twin”, with its attractive pubs, restaurants and shopping opportunities, is well worth a visit.