Görlitz ([ˈɡœɐ̯lɪts] (About this soundlisten); Upper Lusatian dialect: Gerlz, Gerltz, and Gerltsch, Polish: Zgorzelec, Upper Sorbian: Zhorjelc, Lower Sorbian: Zgórjelc, Czech: Zhořelec) is a town in the German state of Saxony. Located in the region of Lusatia on the Lusatian Neisse, it is the second largest town of Lusatia after Cottbus, and the largest in Upper Lusatia. The town is the seat of the district of Görlitz, Germany's easternmost district. Its approximately 56,000 inhabitants make Görlitz the sixth largest town in Saxony. While not Lusatiophone itself, the town is situated just east of the Sorbian-speaking parts of Lusatia.

Goerlitz stadtansicht.jpg
Görlitz Altes Rathaus 01.jpg
Goerlitz-Schoenhof von Westen-20110626.jpg
Goerlitz-Landeskronstrasse von Nordosten-20110627.jpg
Clockwise from top: View over Görlitz, Schönhof, Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences (Oberlausitzische Bibliothek der Wissenschaften), renovated Gründerzeit buildings, Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)
Flag of Görlitz
Coat of arms of Görlitz
Coat of arms
Location of Görlitz within Görlitz district
Bärwalder SeeBerzdorfer SeeQuitzdorf ReservoirQuitzdorf RservoirPolandCzech RepublicBrandenburgBautzen (district)Sächsische Schweiz-OsterzgebirgeBad MuskauBeiersdorfBernstadt auf dem EigenBerthelsdorfBertsdorf-HörnitzBoxbergBoxbergDürrhennersdorfEbersbachEibauGablenzGörlitzGörlitzGroß DübenGroß DübenGroßhennersdorfGroßschönauGroßschweidnitzHähnichenHainewaldeHerrnhutHohendubrauHorkaJonsdorfKodersdorfKönigshainKrauschwitzKreba-NeudorfLawaldeLeutersdorfLöbauMarkersdorfMarkersdorfMittelherwigsdorfMückaMückaNeißeaueNeugersdorfNeusalza-SprembergNiedercunnersdorfNieskyObercunnersdorfOderwitzOlbersdorfOppachOstritzOybinQuitzdorf am SeeReichenbachRietschenRosenbachRothenburgSchleifeSchönau-BerzdorfSchönbachSchöpstalSeifhennersdorfSohland am RotsteinTrebendorfTrebendorfVierkirchenWaldhufenWeißkeißelWeißwasserZittauZittauLusatian NeisseGörlitz in GR.svg
About this image
Görlitz is located in Germany
Görlitz is located in Saxony
Coordinates: 51°09′10″N 14°59′14″E / 51.15278°N 14.98722°E / 51.15278; 14.98722Coordinates: 51°09′10″N 14°59′14″E / 51.15278°N 14.98722°E / 51.15278; 14.98722
Subdivisions10 town- and 8 village-quarters
 • MayorOctavian Ursu
 • Total67.22 km2 (25.95 sq mi)
199 m (653 ft)
 • Total56,324
 • Density840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Time zoneCET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes
Dialling codes03581
Vehicle registrationGR

From 1815 until 1918, Görlitz belonged to the Province of Silesia in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later to the Province of Lower Silesia in the Free State of Prussia. It is the largest town of the former Province of Lower Silesia that lies west of the Oder-Neisse line and hence remained in Germany after World War II. Today, Görlitz lies opposite the Polish town of Zgorzelec, which was part of Görlitz until 1945. Together they form the German-Polish Euro City of Görlitz-Zgorzelec.

Görlitz combines Lusatian and Silesian traditions as well as German and Sorbian culture. Spared from the destruction of World War II, the town also has a rich architectural heritage. Many movie-makers have used the various sites as filming locations.[2]


As a small Sorbian village named Gorelic in the Margraviate of Meissen, a frontier march of the Holy Roman Empire, it was temporarily conquered and held by the Kingdom of Poland during Bolesław I Chrobry's invasion of Lusatia between 1002 and 1031, after which the region fell back to the Margraviate of Meissen. In 1075, the village was assigned to the Duchy of Bohemia. The date of the town's foundation is unknown. However, Goreliz was first mentioned in a document from the King of Germany, and later Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV in 1071. This document granted Görlitz to the Diocese of Meissen, then under Bishop Benno of Meissen. Currently, this document can be found in the Saxony State Archives in Dresden.[3] The origin of the name Görlitz is derived from the Slavic word for "burned land",[4] referring to the technique used to clear land for settlement. Zgorzelec and Czech Zhořelec have the same derivation. In the 13th century the village gradually became a town. Due to its location on the Via Regia, an ancient and medieval trade route, the settlement prospered.

In the following centuries Görlitz was a wealthy member of the Lusatian League, which consisted of Bautzen, Görlitz, Kamenz, Lauban, Löbau and Zittau. In 1352 during the reign of Casimir the Great, Lusatian German colonists from Görlitz founded the town of Gorlice in southern Poland near Kraków.

Görlitz in the 16th century

The Protestant Reformation came to Görlitz in the early 1520s and by the last half of the 16th century, it and the surrounding vicinity, became almost completely Lutheran.

After suffering for years in the Thirty Years' War, the region of Upper Lusatia (including Görlitz) was ceded to the Electorate of Saxony in 1635. After the Napoleonic Wars, the 1815 Congress of Vienna transferred the town from the Kingdom of Saxony to the Kingdom of Prussia. Görlitz was subsequently administered within the Province of Silesia, and, after World War I, the Province of Lower Silesia, until 1945.

During World War II, the prisoner-of-war camp known as Stalag VIII-A was situated in the town of Görlitz, so its location is referred to as such. However, its location was east of the river, so it now lies in the Polish town of Zgorzelec (see below).[5][6]

Near the end of World War II, German troops destroyed all bridges crossing the Lusatian Neisse. The redrawing of boundaries in 1945—in particular the relocation of the German-Polish border to the present Oder-Neisse line—divided the town. The right bank became part of Poland and was renamed Zgorzelec by the Polish communist government in 1948, while the main portion on the left bank remained part of Germany, now within the state of Saxony.

When the East German states were dissolved in 1952, Görlitz became part of the Dresden District, but the states were restored upon German reunification in 1990. On 27 June 1994, the town became the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Görlitz, but it remains a Lutheran Protestant stronghold.

In 2002 Lake Berzdorf, located south of Görlitz, began to flood. The Altstadtbrücke (literally old town bridge) between Görlitz and sister city Zgorzelec was rebuilt between 2003 and 2004. It was officially opened on 20 October 2004. As soon as Poland signed the Schengen Agreement (20 December 2007), movement between the two banks of the river again became unrestricted, since border controls were eliminated. Indeed, users of the new pedestrian bridge are not told by any signs that they are leaving one country and entering another.

Whilst the town was well preserved, it was notably grey and colourless under communist East German rule. Since reunification, and as of 2013, over 700 buildings have been renovated. It is a popular place for retirement among the elderly of Germany, being quiet and relatively affordable by German standards.[7] Its tourist potential is rapidly expanding, being very much an eastern counterpart to towns such as Heidelberg.[citation needed] In the case of Görlitz, much of the funding for the renovations of the towns buildings comes from an anonymous donor, who, from 1995 onward, has sent an annual donation of over 500,000, totalling over €10,000,000.[8]

Arts and cultureEdit

Görlitz, Untermarkt (2011)
The New Town Hall

Today Görlitz and Zgorzelec, two towns on opposite banks of the narrow river, get along well. Two bridges have been rebuilt, a bus line connects the German and Polish parts of the town, and there is a common urban management, with annual joint sessions of both town councils.[citation needed]

The town has a rich architectural heritage (Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical, Art Nouveau). One example of this rich architectural heritage is the Schönhof, which is one of the oldest civic Renaissance buildings in Germany. Another medieval heritage is a model of the Holy Sepulchre (de) which was constructed in the late 15th century.[citation needed]

In 2006 the twin city Görlitz/Zgorzelec applied to be the European City of Culture 2010. It was hoped that the concept of Polish-German cooperation would be sufficient to convince the jury, but Essen won. Görlitz was placed second. As a result of the campaign Görlitz was renamed City of Culture in order to further German-Polish relations and to attract tourists from all over the world.[9]

As Görlitz was part of Silesia from 1815 onward, it has a Silesian Museum dedicated to the region (Schlesisches Museum zu Görlitz). The exhibition features the 1000-year-old cultural history of Silesia.

Görlitz is also the birthplace of the German version of nonpareils, popularly known in Germany as Liebesperlen (German: love pearls). Invented by confectioner Rudolf Hoinkis (1876–1944), the name derives from a conversation Hoinkis had with his wife, proclaiming his love for her like these "pearls", the nonpareil. Unsure of what to call the treat he invented, his wife suggested calling them love pearls, and the name stuck. The factory where he first manufactured the treat, founded in 1896, is now run by his great-grandson, Mathias.[10]

Görlitz Main Railway Station


Görlitz station is on the Berlin – Görlitz and the Dresden – Görlitz lines of Deutsche Bahn. The station also provides an international connection to Wrocław, Poland.

Local public transport is provided by:

Film locationEdit

Due to the historical parts of the city, many movie-makers have used the various sites as locations. Eli Roth shot the movie-in-a-movie Stolz der Nation (Pride of the Nation) for Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds (which incidentally purports to be Sicily) on the Untermarkt and Obermarkt in Görlitz' oldest parts of the city.[13][14] Other films shot in Görlitz include the 2013 war drama The Book Thief and the teen years in The Reader. Görlitz was used as the primary shooting location for the Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel, with Görlitz standing in for a resort in the fictional Eastern European country of Zubrowka. A vacant department store in the city was redecorated to serve as the hotel itself.[15]


Town twinningEdit

Görlitz is twinned with:[16]

Being the easternmost town in the country, Görlitz has formed a "Compass Alliance" (Zipfelbund) with the northernmost, westernmost, and southernmost towns, List, Selfkant, and Oberstdorf respectively. They participate in the annual German Unity Day celebrations to represent the modern limits of Germany.[19]

Notable peopleEdit

Michael Ballack


The climate is oceanic (Köppen: Cfb) or on the western edge of humid continental (Dfb) by the 0 °C isotherm. In other words, the climate is still greater but relevant influence of the continentality. Its location in the far east of Germany and further away from the sea gives a climate with lower performance of the west winds although still present until the western half of Poland. Summers can be warm, though not as much as the southern continent and the winters are cold and snowy, although it does not remain all winter.[20]

Climate data for Görlitz, 1981–2010 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 1.8
Average low °C (°F) −3.2
Average rainfall mm (inches) 45.7
Mean monthly sunshine hours 62.8 78.8 120.9 179.2 223.6 210.5 228.2 220.3 152.7 124.9 62.9 50.1 1,714.9
Source: Météoclimat


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Bevölkerung des Freistaates Sachsen jeweils am Monatsende ausgewählter Berichtsmonate nach Gemeinden" (PDF). Statistisches Landesamt des Freistaates Sachsen (in German). July 2019.
  2. ^ Heinz, Marlis. "Hier dreht sich alles um das Drehen". morgenpost.de. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  3. ^ "Deutschlands Städte, Gemeinden und Kreise online - FindCity". findcity.de. Archived from the original on 20 May 2007. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  4. ^ "Placenames of the World" by Adrian Room, McFarland Pub. 2003 page 140
  5. ^ "European Center Memory, Education, Culture". Meetingpoint Music Messiaen e.V. 17 April 2020. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Stalag VIII A". Meetingpoint Music Messiaen e.V. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Warum Görlitz für ältere Menschen so attraktiv ist". goerlitzer-anzeiger.de. Görlitzer Anzeiger. 10 June 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Görlitz' Generous Donor". dw.com. Deutsche Welle. 23 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  9. ^ "German Research Project Offers One Week of Free Living | DW | 14.09.2008". DW.COM a. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Nonpareil - sweet treat from Görlitz". dw.com. Deutsche Welle. 28 April 2016. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Willkommen" (in German). Verkehrsgesellschaft Görlitz GmbH. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Informacje bieżące" [Current Information] (in Polish). Polnische Verkehrsgesellschaft (Polish Transport Company). Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2010.
  13. ^ Duke, Alan (11 August 2009). "'Basterds' pro-Nazi short made by a Jewish director - CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  14. ^ "'Newcomer Görlitz', das Stadtportrait für das MYSELF Magazin - Fotos Christian KERBER c/o SOLAR UND FOTOGRAFEN". Gosee (in German). 22 April 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  15. ^ "Wes Anderson's new movie has a distributor, plot". The A.V. Club. 28 March 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  16. ^ "Städtepartnerschaften" (in German). Stadt Görlitz. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Wiesbaden's international city relations". Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  18. ^ a b c "Görlitz - Partnerstädte". partnerstaedte.html (in German). Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Tag der Deutschen Einheit". zipfelbund.de (in German). Retrieved 30 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Gorlitz, Germany Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  21. ^ "Görlitz (10499) - WMO Weather Station". NOAA. Retrieved 31 January 2019.

External linksEdit