Along the Tracks of the Film City Görlitz
Germany’s easternmost city, Görlitz, is underestimated by many despite its interesting history, architectural diversity, and location right next to Poland. Considered one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, it was awarded the title of European City together with Zgorzelec, the Polish counterpart of the city, in 1998.
With almost 55,000 inhabitants, it is probably not the largest nor most popular tourist destination, yet this small city is quite charming. The city’s location in East Germany is considered unattractive for many potential tourists, but we know we will convince you otherwise!
Now, let’s focus on the positive aspects, such as the location in the border triangle between the Czech Republic and Poland. The location is an ideal starting point for short trips to the two neighboring countries, giving way to the perfect mixture of fun activities and cultural exchange.
The city is also directly connected to the A4 freeway and the rail network, so it is easily accessible within Germany. The nearest airport is in the state capital, Dresden. With the help of a train or car, Görlitz is only a hop and a skip away. Not to mention, the low prices here should make every backpacker’s heart beat faster. So, give this underrated city in Germany a chance!
Yes, you read that right! While not always Hollywood-level, Görlitz still impresses with a filmography of about 100 films. Among these 100 films, you’ll certainly notice some well-known classics and celebrities. For example, scenes from Quentin Tarantino’s international hit film, Inglorious Basterds, were shot here and featured many famous German actors, such as Christoph Waltz, Til Schweiger, and Diane Kruger. Other classics such as The Book Thief, The Reader, The Silent Revolution and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice were also filmed in Görliwood. But that’s not all, Brad Pitt has already walked the streets of Görlitz! We bet that Hollywood fever is increasing, isn’t it?
In the crime series Wolfsland, with Yvonne Catterfeld, the city gets to star as itself for once. Popular since 2015, Görlitz celebrated this premiere, showing the first production on the cinema screen of the Görlitzer Filmpalast. The producers liked this film series so much that there are seven more parts of the crime thriller now.
We shouldn’t forget to mention, the classic The Grand Budapest Hotel, was also filmed in Görlitz, or at least partly. The former pompous Görlitz Department Store stars as part of the original location for the film – though it deviates significantly from the original. Nevertheless, you should take a peek at the impressive building. It was popular in the 1910s and only one day after its opening, the department store had to close again because the rush was so big that everything sold out immediately. Nowadays, this can only be dreamed of by new stores.
With a little luck, they might be looking for extras for a new movie while you’re exploring the city. Don’t miss your chance to appear in the next hit movie yourself right here in Görlitz!
Parish Church of St. Peter and Paul and the Old Town Bridge
The Parish Church of St. Peter and Paul towers over the Neisse River and is considered an impressive landmark of the city. The best view of the building and the 72-meter-long, pointed east choir can be enjoyed from the Polish side.
It is the oldest church in the city, probably built upon a castle church from the 11th century, and commonly known to the locals as St. Peter’s Church. It was not until 1423, during the Gothic era, that it became the mighty, five-nave hall church with its many towers that we see today.
The already mentioned Old Town Bridge was the first fortified crossing of the Neisse River between Germany and Poland. After the Second World War in 1945, the bridge was blown up. Today, only stone abutments on both sides of the river remain to remind us of the former bridge.
In 2004, the bridge was rebuilt as a pedestrian bridge and symbolizes a Europe that is growing together. Take a short stroll to Poland or spend some time on the bridge and enjoy the beautiful scenery on the banks of the Neisse River.
This special round arch portal not only has an impressive appearance, but also provides an intriguing acoustic element. The name already suggests it – if you whisper something into one side, it can be heard on the other side.
Tourists in particular love to test this feature out. So don’t miss the chance to whisper something to your friends! The arch is located on the Lower Market Square in Görlitz, where only the richest merchants of the city used to live.
City Hall and the Lower Market
This outstanding building is located on the Lower Market Square in Görlitz and is nowadays the seat of several offices. Since 1350, it is a place of municipal administration, power, and jurisdiction. The clocks of the tower are also special because next to the normal daily clock, you can see a moon phase clock.
The Lower Market is the most central square of the old town and is surrounded by bars and restaurants. Here, you can relax and take in the picture-perfect view of town hall. Taking a small shopping street will also bring you from there to the Upper Market, which is also outfitted in many stores. This is the perfect opportunity to grab a few souvenirs.
Had enough of sightseeing in the city center of Görlitz? Then don’t miss Lake Berzdorf which is about 10 minutes outside the city center! Its impressive, clear, blue water offers a variety of activities.
You can visit different sections of the beach, but the “Blue Lagoon” is especially recommended. The white sandy beach makes you think that you are on the Baltic coast. If you’re into more than just sunbathing and cooling off, you can try your hand at paddleboarding, windsurfing, sailing, or even surfing. At Lake Berzdorf in Görlitz there is something for everyone.
Landeskrone (Landskron) Brewery of Görlitz
At 419 meters, the Landeskrone is the local mountain of Görlitz. On the summit of the rather tame elevation, is a restaurant and an observation tower. These offer the perfect rest after the climb up and invite you to linger around for a bit.
Familiar to some, the name of the popular Landskron beer should definitely have beer connoisseurs tuning in. Brewed right here in Görlitz, some fans find the guided tour of the Landskron Brewery exciting. Since 1869, beer has been brewed here using traditional craft methods. So be sure to book a brewery tour on your trip to the city, which generally includes a tasting. So, don’t miss out on this treat for your palate!
Events and Subculture
Old Town Festival
If you think Görlitz is a retirement town with nothing going on, you’re only partially right! Yes, Görlitz is not the most exciting place, but you shouldn’t miss events like the Old Town Festival. Here, many events interact here, giving the festival its unique charm.
The festival is international and takes place annually on the last weekend in August. It’s also one of the most beautiful and largest folk festivals in the region, with lots of positive vibes. Don’t miss the chance to laugh, dance, talk, feast or even paddle in the colorful streets of Görlitz!
Silesian Christmas Market in Görlitz
Already twice, namely in 2016 and 2019, the Christmas Market of Görlitz took first place in the Christmas market tests of the MDR (Central German Broadcasting Corporation) – and for good reason! Imagine the already enchanting old town of Görlitz in winter flair with all its fairy lights. There is also a wonderfully decorated Christmas tree, small ornate streets, and a variety of drink and food stalls inviting you to stay. The large ice rink should not be forgotten either, but it is best to go skating first before you lose yourself to the Christmas Market stands.
Now we come to another special feature of the city. It is actually an old cold storage warehouse from the GDR, which is being renovated by enthusiastic residents of the city to be usable again. The name Kühlhaus (translated to cold storage) may not make the best first impression, but just think of how this space will become a popular sociocultural meeting spot.
Some of you may already know the Kühlhaus Berlin, which is a hugely successful project. The massive area there is used for parties and exhibitions. In addition to events, the Kühlhaus Görlitz also offers overnight stays; to be more precise, you can camp there. So, if you are looking for a quiet and cheap alternative to the city, you should definitely take a look at the area of the Kühlhaus.
Similar to the concept of the Kühlhaus, is the Rabryka. While similar, this sociocultural hotspot puts a greater focus on projects and festivals. For visitors, it offers a unique sight, as the area is full of photorific spots to explore. Take the opportunity to take some great souvenir pics when you’re here!
The Rabryka is also great for making new contacts since there is always someone on site and the community aspect is paramount. You should definitely check out these rather unknown subcultures because not every city can offer you this special atmosphere.
As you can see, the film city Görlitz has a lot to offer! Maybe, you’ll add this East German city to your bucket list after all because there’s no shortage of activities and Görliwood is an absolute must. So, ready to put on your backpack and head off to Görlitz to get to know this film city a bit more? Don’t plan too little time, you might also spontaneously feel like taking a short trip through Poland and the Czech Republic!