Герлиц ©Europastadt GörlitzZgorzelec GmbH (Sabine Wenzel)
Towns & cities from A to Z

Of medieval history and modern-day Europe: Görlitz

Görlitz – the most easterly town in Germany and for many the most beautiful. Perhaps not surprising when you consider the town has over 3,500 architectural monuments spanning 500 years. Most have been lovingly restored and are a real visual treat for visitors. Among the grand old churches, mighty fortifications and ornate facades, there is a wonderful, vibrant and friendly town just waiting to be discovered.

Görlitz is in fact split into two parts – the eastern section in Poland is called Zgorzelec – yet the visitor is unable to sense a division between the two. Building bridges could quite easily be Görlitz and Zgorzelec's motto, especially when it comes to the popular festivals that take place in the town. The Tri-Nation Short Film Festival, for example, features contributions from Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, while the Via Thea street theatre festival attracts performers and theatre companies from all over Europe. In late August, the old town festival in Görlitz and its Polish equivalent are held on the same weekend. This unique double festival celebrated on both sides of the border is the perfect time to pay the town a visit.

Medieval buildings, art nouveau architecture and 4,000 toys ...

Because Görlitz survived the Second World War virtually unscathed, it has retained much of its medieval character. But visitors will also be impressed by its grand streets and squares from the late 19th century and its ornate art nouveau houses. The department store on Demianiplatz was once a leading destination for shoppers. This art nouveau gem with its vast atrium soaring upwards past floor after galleried floor has barely changed since the day it first opened. Close by is the beautiful Schönhof, a former brewery and one of the most splendid buildings in the town. Today it is home to the Silesian Museum which displays arts and crafts from the 17th to the 19th century, as well as art, artisan goods and industrial products from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Görlitz's Toy Museum is a real treat for the young and young at heart. It features over 4,000 toys from the Erzgebirge region, dating from 1850 to the present day.

On location with Brad Pitt

Görlitz is also a first-class location for film-makers. Take the town hall, for example, with its clock dating from 1524 – the perfect backdrop for bringing the Renaissance period to life on the big screen. In the days of East Germany, many historical films and fairytale dramatisations were shot here. Since German reunification, Görlitz has been transformed into 19th-century Paris for a movie, and only a short time ago Brad Pitt and friends painted the town red as the 'Inglourious Basterds'. While in Görlitz, they would have been able to sample the rustic German cuisine on offer. One of the best places to do this is 'Zur schwarzen Kunst', a traditional inn with an open fire, atmospheric vaulted cellar and beer garden.

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