»Wo geht’s hier zur Oder-Neiße-Linie?!?«

Europa (wikimedia commons, public domain)

Europa (wikimedia commons, public domain)

If I remember corrently, a german satiric mag once translated »The germans are passionated wanderers« as »Can you tell me the way to the Oder-Neisse Line?!?«.


I grew up during times of the cold war and the iron curtain. As a child, I stood at the border between both german states, without the possibility to go to “the other side”. Most news concentrated on the western partners and I knew less about the neighboured countries in the east. More than 20 years after the german reunion and after several eastern countries have joined the european union, this legacy still exists in the heads of many people of my age. A virtual border segregates eastern germany and our eastern neighbours like the Czech Republic or Poland. Here are a couple of reasons:

  • Common history interrupted 65 years ago.
  • Slavic language.
  • Difficult relationsship due to the consequences of the 2nd world war.

During the Xmas holidays I fulfilled a wish of mine by visiting Görlitz, a german town sited at the Neiße, the river which forms the border between Germany and Poland since the end of ww2:

Görlitz is interesting for a couple of reasons:

  • Rich medieval history.
  • Formerly part of Silesia, a region populated by slavic and german people until the end of ww2.
  • Unlike many other german towns, the medieval inner city of Görlitz was not ruined by allied bombs. Thus many buildings have been preserved, mainly of the gothic, renaissance, baroque and Gründerzeit eras.
  • The city was bisected into a german (Görlitz) and a polish (Zgorzelec) part after ww2. Since Poland became part of the European Union, both towns call themselves “European City Görlitz/Zgorzelec”. Since 2004, a new pedestrian bridge connects the inner city of Görlitz and Zgorzelec.

This means that a visit in Görlitz can teach you a lot about german and european history.

The inner town was completely covered by snow and ice, and a strong wind turned outdoor activities into less fun. That’s why I didn’t take a lot of pictures, and the few I took are not of great quality. On the other hand, there were not much tourists; the perfect occasion to get in contact with local inhabitants, to enjoy the relative silence and to be one of the few people in the museums.

That’s the medieval town-hall at the lower market. There are plenty of historic building in the town, some still in a very bad state, but many reconstructed very well:

Medieval Town-hall

Medieval Town-hall

Tiles at a butcher’s:

Tiles in a Butchery

Tiles in a Butchery

St. Peter and Paul, the gothic cathedral:

St. Peter and Paul as seen from Zgorzelec

St. Peter and Paul as seen from Zgorzelec

The original console of the organ of St. Peter and Paul:

The original console of the sun organ

The original console of the sun organ

The renewed sun organ of St. Peter and Paul. Some pipes of the pedal mixture are mounted around suns in the face of the organ, just like sun rails. Thus its name:

The sun organ of St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz

The sun organ of St. Peter and Paul in Görlitz

The multi level chapel of the medieval holy grave replica area:

Multi-level chapel chapel

Multi-level chapel

The Holy Grave Chapel replica:

Holy Grave Chapel

Holy Grave Chapel

A railway viaduct crossing the Neiße. The other side belongs to Poland:

Railway viaduct crossing the Neiße to Poland

Railway viaduct crossing the Neiße to Poland

Local dishes, called “Schlesisches Himmelreich”. It consists of dried fruit and pork meat in cream sauce plus dumplings:

Schlesisches Himmelreich

Schlesisches Himmelreich

The city already was very well mapped, so I didn’t do any additions. I used Mappero on the N900 to find my destinations, and really enjoyed to have free map data to my disposal. Thanks a bunch to all co-mappers.