Updated: Nov 1, 2020
Gorlitz. The name, I have heard, seen many times. Staying in Berlin, in the neighborhood Kreuzberg.I have bumped into it on different occasions. Everyone knows Gorlitzer Bahnhof(station) or Gorlitzer park. They are associated mostly with the alternative, rough, edgy character of Berlin( to its eccentric night life because of their proximity to all the clubs and bars of Kreuzberg. But did you know? Once from Gorlitzer station, there was a direct train from Berlin to Gorlitz's city, located in Germany's east bordered with Poland?
Gorlitz. Imagine you are in the cinema, you are sitting comfortably on the chair in the dark, watching a historical or romantic movie from former times. The characters are coming in and out of the magnificent buildings. The city looks so enchanting.
Then you start to wonder where the plot is taking place. in Germany, Hungary? Maybe the Tcheque Republic? Could it be Austria?
Perhaps you have just seen a movie filmed in Gorlitz, because it is an ideal background for any story occurring in any prominently beautiful old city in East Europe.
My first impression, visiting Gorlitz: An astonishment mixture of Architecture's styles. From Renaissance to Baroque and Art nouveau. I could have seen Prague, Vienne, Krakow, and even Florence in Gorlitz. I drank a coffee in one of Gorlitz's quaint tea rooms and believed I was in any of those cities.
So how come it has created such a fusion?
Gorlitz was an ideal intersection for street traders from south to north, east to west from the Middle Ages. They have exchanged the wares and left an impact on the city. They could have influenced its structure, design, and style, from Architecture to furniture. Gorlitz was definitely a cultural melting pot city.
I could have immediately felt its majesty ,walking in the paved streets, looking for my Hotel.
The building's facade everywhere in the center of town is royal. Each on its own has its proper decoration and character.
The colours are like the sunshine between goldish yellow and orange: an invitation for a harmonious dance with the passenger. ( The shining colours are a hint that it is the first city where the sun rises in Germany. Located in the most eastern part of the country) You can perceive though other tones on the buildings such as rose,green or burgundy in the central town square.
I was walking, contemplating with awe those charming houses. I had the feeling I could have been right now in Prague.
The town hall tower with the face of the guardian puppet's face walled up, opens his mouth, and blinks every minute. It is a punishment that he didn't watch out in the old days when the city was in flames.
It has reminded me of the twelve apostles figures moving around the astronomical clock tower in Prague's famous central square.
Yes, it was a bit tricky as Gorlitz keeps reminding you other places you have visited before.
I was walking with the French city guide Laure Teillet based in Gorlitz. It was instructive to learn from her since she is passionate about her city and gladly shares her genuine knowledge.
We were standing in Untermarkt-The lower market square-The main old town historical center.
Laure described to me a scene from a movie shot here.
The location is perfect, and I could have quickly imagined how the ancient square was transforming into a tremendous war scene.
It is the official brand created in 2013. Gorlitz has received for years Americans directors, as Europeans shooting their movies in Gorlitz: "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Inglourious Basterds," "The Reader." Goethe"
They are just a part of a long list of famous movies filmed in Gorlitz.
You can definitively hear the director shouts "action" visualize the actors walking vigorously around in the quiet, picturesque alleys. Gorlitz has all the right ingredients for creating a powerful drama.
Seeing the statue of Justice-Justicia on the town hall curving stairs is quite a spectacular vision. It is holding the scales, without a band, attached to her eyes. It is unusual, because this one was judging the facts and not being influenced by people.)
The sculpture looked so impressive. This queen of Justice was a witness to so many past crucial events.
The treasures of Gorlitz
This city not only has star quality. It is an inspiration for all romantic souls.
Strolling in Gorlitz, you will discover the beautiful fountains, established in different locations. Also this city is very luminated. Another lovely experience is going to Museums. I managed to visit two-The Museum-
The Baroque house and The Kaizertrutz Museum. Both are splendid.
The Baroque art Museum has various paintings, sculptures, and interior designs of the Baroque style.
The second one will teach you the history of the city all over the decades. It will guide you to comprehend the extraordinary universe of Gorlitz.
The center is relatively compact, so it is enjoyable to walk from one monument to another.
Gorlitz is a city that breathes art in every street corner.
The stroll in the Nicolai cemetery in the morning was relaxing. It is solely a beautiful place.
It doesn't maintain the austerity of a graveyard but is more a sumptuous, spiritual garden. When I arrived there, the rain has already stopped and it has left its perfumed scent.The sun emerged out again in the grey sky, and my walk became quite pensive. The church Saint-Nicolai which is nearby the cemetery is spectacular.
Just as I stepped out from the cemetery,it started to rain again. It was pouring. I entered to the closest hotel, having no umbrella,I had to wait. All of a sudden the person from the reception offered me with a kind smile,exactely what I have needed the most: an umbrella. When I went out from this hotel and opened this big,elegant umbrella, I could have strolled safely again, Gorlitz in the rain under my protective umbrella looked cloudy and poetic. A smoothly inspiration for creativity.
It is a preserved city. The monuments stayed intact. Blend in the refined, ancient atmosphere, also the hotels and restaurants.
The 500 years arch-door located in the old market square has exceptional quality. If two people stand, each of them on each side and one whispers, the other person can hear his words.
I liked the long Berliner Strasse. It's a shopping street, pleasant to walk until you reach the town center.
In Otto-Muller street, you can find the old, preserved,Synagogue. Because of construction work, I couldn't have visited it. It is a stunning building to look at, even from outside.
I stayed in the "Dreibeiniger Hund"(the three-legged dog). It's quite a well-known hotel. When I asked someone for directions, I didn't finish saying the name. He smiled like he heard about it so frequently and oriented me the way.
It appeared like a mystic fortress in the withdrawn, beautiful Buttner street: cozy and romantic.
I loved the Middle Ages undertone of the hall and dining room with the dusky light. It also has a lovely garden, Cafe.
The guide Laure showed me the Cafe "Lucullus" in another charming street, Peterstrasse. It is a pearl:Elegant and artistic.
Italian architecture influenced its interior court design. Homemade cakes and lovely coffee have completed this pleasant afternoon.
The magical bridge
I will never forget how moving it was for me when I started my studies in Strasbourg to know that I could be in another country only by riding a few bus stations. Not only was Strasbourg so beautifully breathtaking, but I could metaphorically open a gate to Germany from France. Those openness and freedom of crossing the borders were a new,exciting experience.
I was standing by the river Neisse in Gorlitz, seeing a large bridge and some small houses on the other side. Could it be the suburb?
Laure smiled "What you see from the other bank of the river is already Poland, the city Zgorzelec."
There were closed borders after the Second World War. After the political Changement in 1989 in East Germany with gradually development and investment ,Gorlitz and Zgorzelec proclaimed itself in 1998 as a European city.
I was crossing the symbolic bridge, joining together those two cultural cities like two best friends who manage to remain reunited despite the evident character's difference.
I enjoyed the misty walk in the sunset along the river, dividing the two cities, which lasted around 20 minutes.
The colourful houses were smaller, less imposing, on the polish side, but something about them was touching, dreamy and soft. from far you perceive, the Kulture Dom, it is a prominent monument and reminds the Reichstag building's architecture.
It was very interesting to observe the cultural distinctions from both sides of the river creating a melodic,stirring symmetry.
The polish restaurants' light was a subtle invitation to dine the traditional polish food in one of them.
I had the cabbage salad and the delicious perogies in the lovely, intimate restaurant "PrzyJakubie." named after the German philosopher Jakob Bohme who had lived in Gorlitz and was an influential figure. You can find traces of this personality in different spots of Gorlitz.
In the restaurant the food was served in special polish plates made in factory of the city Bolesławiec. (40 min drive from Zgorzelec)In the Hotel Dreibeiniger Hund,breakfast was served in those traditional pretty dishes.
Later at night, the light was still radiating at 10 pm. I was crossing the bridge back to Germany. staring at the unusual scenery, I ultimately felt the cinematic effect.
I could see emerging from this landscape a romantic, delicate European drama movie.
I wasn't sitting in a comfy armchair, nor was I eating popcorn. But I was in those moments in an open-air cinema on Gorlitz-Zgorzelec magical bridge.
Photos credit: Gorlitz tourism office