I have been visiting the town of Görlitz on the German Polish border for over 20 years and I have watched its transformation. For hubby that time frame has been even longer, as every year his mum brought him and his siblings to visit her parents and relations behind the Iron Curtain, but those are stories are for another time.
Görlitz has long been a town of historic importance and first appears in official records as far back as 1071. Situated on the Neisse river, it was at the intersection of two major trade/pilgrim routes; the Via Regia (Royal Highway) from Kiev, Ukraine to Santiago de Compostela, Spain and the Salt Road which linked Prague to the Baltic Sea. The grand Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau style architecture of the buildings reflected the town’s importance and was thankfully spared the destruction of World War II.
Years behind the Iron Curtain and the decline of the coal industry however had taken its toll and when I first visited in the early 2000s you could see its once grandeur, now faded and blackened from neglect and pollution and in much need of attention. It was so rundown that just before reunification there had been a plan to blow up a large number of the old buildings and replace them with high rise residence blocks. Thankfully that didn’t happen.
Over the years each time I return I can see a visible difference in the town, due in no small part to an anonymous benefactor who loves Görlitz enough that they donate €500,000 each year for the restoration of the town. Bit by bit the renovation is happening and the town has a new glow that is drawing people in, particularly retirees but also more and more young people who want to live in the beautiful and historic town centre. The green spaces and cobbled town squares are bustling again, and Hollywood has also put Görlitz in the spotlight, using it as a shooting location for a number of movies set in the region from Middle Ages to post-war era. There is still work to be done but the future is looking bright for Görlitz and I for one can’t wait to see her continued transformation. I would definitely recommend to anyone to put it on their travel bucket list.