Görlitz: Our New Favorite German City

Kaufhaus Gorlitz, where Grand Budapest Hotel was filmed, soon to be a new department store.
Kaufhaus Gorlitz, where Grand Budapest Hotel was filmed, soon to be a new department store.

We drove as far east as we could from Dresden to the German border with Poland to the remarkable city of Görlitz yesterday, and after we had been there just a little while the sun came out, shining a light on this, the best-preserved medieval city in Eastern Germany.

And that’s the reason that more than 100 movies and TV shows have been filmed here, including ‘Around the World in 80 Days, the Jackie Chan movie, and Inglourious Basterds, with Brad Pitt. We also visited the former department store where Grand Budapest Hotel was filmed, with the up and down stairways.

Poppyseeds make up most of this delicious local specialty dessert in Gorlitz.
Poppyseeds make up most of this delicious local specialty dessert in Gorlitz.

It’s because nowhere else do you get these buildings and views, and towers and everything still just like it was, on the Neisse river, and on the other side of the bridge, Zgorzelec Poland.  There are swans and ducks in the marshes, and across the bridge, signs advertising cheap cigarettes for sale.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch that featured a local specialty: a dessert made of poppy seeds and cream.  The piano at the restaurant, Lucie Schulte, was played one evening by actor Jeff Goldbloom, who nobody here recognized as they threw tips into his cup!

The city of about 50,000 boasts 4,000 buildings that are listed as heritage sites, and they even have a secret benefactor. From 1995 until 2016, an anonymous benefactor donated 500,000 euros to the city every year, helping to keep it so beautiful and clean.

We toured an empty former department store called Kaufhaus Gorlitz, this was where the Wes Anderson film was shot, a fantastic shell of a building built in the 1920s. It’s slated to be reopened as a department store in the not-so-distant future, but today it stands empty and waiting, and the details and sweeping lines inside make it a real gem.

The store was open until 2009 when the company went bankrupt. The Grand Budapest Hotel was filmed here in 2012, and today the empty store’s four-story shell awaits further orders to hopefully return to a shopping mecca in this wonderful downtown.

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