As the easternmost city of Germany, Görlitz is the place to be if you’re after a generous dose of culture. Whether you want to delve deep into the fascinating history of Silesia, understand the evolution of photography, or learn about natural history, the museums here offer visitors the chance to explore and find out more. Here’s our pick of the best.
The Silesian Museum wows visitors even before they cross the threshold, thanks to its beautiful historic Renaissance building, the Schönhof. Once inside, you get to learn all about the history and culture of Silesia, a fascinating region that was once a part of Germany but is now located mostly in Poland (with little parts in Czech Republic and Germany). It is only fitting that this museum be located in Germany’s largest Silesian town, Görlitz. Visitors can find out more about the region’s tumultuous history of war and plunder, as well as the economic, social and political conditions of Silesia in the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum also exhibits art and craft objects from the 17th and 18th centuries, and documents Silesia’s hopeful attempts at being a bridge between nations once again.
Barockhaus was built between 1726 and 1729 for a famous merchant in Görlitz, and to date remains the most significant Baroque building in the region. Today, it houses the Upper Lusatia Library of Sciences, the largest regional scientific library for Upper Lusatia and adjacent parts of Lower Silesia. The library boasts over 140,000 books on history, culture, art, economy, politics and nature of the region, in a beautiful historic setting. The museum also offers guided tours.
The Museum of Natural History (or Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde) in Görlitz is dedicated to the fascinating diversity of nature and is a popular destination for families. The museum boasts a whopping 6.5 million objects spanning the fields of soil zoology, zoology, molecular biology, botany, ecology, geology and palaeozoology. Visitors of all ages are invariably delighted by the massive aquarium and beautifully preserved rare and exotic plants and animals. Additionally, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions on a regular basis.
The Reichenbach Tower is a remnant of the medieval fortifications of Görlitz, and the highest of the three surviving towers of the city. Before stepping inside, take some time to admire its architecture and elements. On the west side of the tower, the coats of arms of the Holy Roman Empire German Nation and Bohemia are present, while those of Brandenburg and Prussia adorn the south side. On the east side, you’ll find the coats of arms of Silesia and Saxony. Those belonging to the Upper Lusatian Six Cities are also present in the facade. Its ancient walls preserve a trove of historic weapons and artefacts, and visitors get a chance to explore its turrets, thick walls and gates. From the top, visitors can take in a great view over the city.
The Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum) is a delightful place to visit for young and old, with toys and dolls of every imaginable kind having found a home here. The most attractive section of the museum consists of toys handcrafted in the Ore Mountains, the very heart of Germany’s traditional toy-making industry. Visitors can admire a wide range of wooden toys and nutcrackers handmade in the Ore Mountains by entire families, including children, for their livelihood.
Kaisertrutz Bastion and Barockhaus together make up the ensemble of Municipal Art and History Collections of Görlitz (Städtische Sammlungen für Geschichte und Kultur Görlitz). This popular art museum is housed in one of the four remaining (out of 32) bastions in the city. During Nazi rule, the museum was recklessly plundered and thousands of exhibits were destroyed or went missing. Today, you can expect to see around 200 exhibits in this museum, including paintings, glass work, ceramic work, graphics, photos, and more. The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions on a regular basis.
The Museum der Fotografie is a specialized museum will appeal greatly to those interested in photography. Here, you can browse a wide range of photographs from various eras, including a number of rare examples. There’s also the chance to see photography apparatus from across several centuries, and gain a deeper understanding of how the technology of photography has evolved over the years.
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