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To understand Görlitz's trajectory over many and fruitful years, one would have to go back to the High Middle Ages, when in the Saxon city, once Silesia, the two great roads of the Renaissance were crossed: the Via Regia, which ran from Kiev to Santiago de Compostela, offering commercial and pilgrimage steps, and the route that linked the ports of northern Germany with the Balkans.
This continuous commercial, religious and cultural transfer made Görlitz a prosperous city, specializing in the textile industry and in the much sought-after indigo of the Indies that was used for blue dyeing in Europe, and over which it maintained the monopoly.
The architecture was expanded in Görlitz in different eras and styles, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Art Nouveau … And, as if they had become invisible, palaces, mansions, towers and churches, survived intact the bombings of World War II, motive whereby today more than 3, 500 monuments are cataloged.
The bridge over the Neisse river marks the territorial boundary between Germany and Poland. © Getty Images
ONE BRIDGE AND TWO CITIES
When the borders were redefined at the end of the war, the smaller eastern flank became part of Poland and was called Zgorzelec. The dividing line is marked by the bridge over the Neisse River. It is fascinating the sensation that is experienced when, when leaving the extraordinary organ concert of the church of S. Pedro, the bridge is crossed and in a few meters you reach another country, with another language, another gastronomy, another culture.
Facing this house with its vermilion color stands out among the others, the birthplace of the 16th-century Lutheran mystic and theosophist Jakob Böhme, whose remains lie in the melancholy Nikolai cemetery in Görlitz, not far from the pantheon of the Goethe muse, Minna Herzlieb .
Discover, even in Zgorzelec, the twenty intact churches, including the Art Nouveau synagogue, and observe how the border crossing over the Neisse river is naturally taken, integrating itself as a curiosity of this fairytale city close to important cities. The German Görlitz is 100 kilometers from Dresden and Zgorzelec is very close to Wroclaw, famous for its university.
Art nouveau synagogue in Zgorzelec, the Polish city annexed to Görlitz. © Getty Images
AWESOME ARCHITECTURAL LEGACY
It is difficult to describe the beauty of the many buildings that compose it, the uniqueness of its facades and the surprises of its interiors.
Without missing others equally beautiful, it should be noted the Science Library with its wooden archery and the Schönhof, considered one of the oldest buildings of the German Renaissance and today contains the interesting Museum of Silesia, in memory of the years in which Görlitz belonged to Silesia before being one of the six regions of Saxony.
There is also the modernity for its time of the Department Stores of 1912, the Town Hall, the palaces that extend from the Berliner Strasse, the Postplatz, Marienplatz and Demianiplatz to Wochenmarkt … The list is endless.
Schönhof, which houses the Silesian Museum, is considered one of the oldest buildings of the German Renaissance. © iStock
Once the huge architectural baggage of Görlitz has been verified, it is understood why the city has been and is coveted as the ideal setting for the celluloid world.
It is not difficult to imagine a Kate Winslet driving the tram while dreaming of the moment when her Reader takes her to other worlds through the pages of a book; watch the Book Thief when he stealthily walks the cobbled streets; meeting Quentin Tarantino directing Damned Bastards, accompanied by his protagonist, Brad Pitt … while those who dreamed of going around the world in Eighty Days fall through the market square.
Or, why not, get into the choreography of the filming of Goethe, to end up meeting with everyone to enjoy a fiction drink inside the Department Store, privileged set of The Grand Hotel Budapest, or a non-fiction dinner, but no less pleasant, in the manor Hotel Börse, and then stay in one of its romantic rooms overlooking the Market Square.
The movie The Reader used the cobbled streets and Görlitz architecture as the setting for the shooting. © Alamy
Lucie Schulte: very romantic, with patio and cellar (Untermarkt 22)
Restaurant Destille: Silesian specialties in the oldest district of Görlitz (Nikolaistraße 6).
Dreibiniger Hund: Baroque restaurant with regional dishes served in Silesian dishes Brunzlauer Keramik (Büttnerstraße 13).
Wine and Culture: at number two of the arched square of Untermarkt and with a somewhat more refined menu.
Obermühle: Slowfood and craft beer, next to the Neisse river (An der Obermühle 5).
The ground floor of Untermarkt, the central square of the old town of Görlitz, is occupied by restaurants. © Getty Images