In Görlitz you can find some remains of the historic city fortifications. We were particularly interested in the towers and so we explored the “Dicken Turm” during our tower tour.
Today, the Dicke Turm or Frauenturm stands in the middle of the city on Marienplatz. Many years ago, it was one of four watch and defence towers in Görlitz. The tower received its name from the people of Görlitz because of its solidity and thick walls.
Dicke Turm – worth knowing
Around 1250, the expansion of Görlitz led to the construction of a new city fortification. In addition to the city wall, four towers were built (three of which are still preserved today: Nikolaiturm, Reichenbacher Turm, Dicker Turm/Frauenturm) and the city gates. The tower is known by several names: Stone Tower, Women’s Tower, Thick Tower. Together with the gate next to it, it formed the southern portal of the town. From there, one could get to the women’s monastery outside the town.
In 1529, the watchman on the tower at that time was given a tower room with a chamber. He had to work 12 hours a day and had the task of keeping a lookout for fire and enemies. In addition, he had to ring the bell every 15 minutes shortly after the town hall clock sounded. At night, a night watchman would pass by the tower and call out to make sure that the tower watchman was not asleep.
In the course of time, the protective structures were gradually altered and partly dismantled. For example, the portcullis, the inner gates and, in 1847/48, the women’s gate and the bridge over the moat were removed. The moat was also filled in. It was not until 1904 that the town guards on the towers in Görlitz were abolished.
The tower has largely retained its appearance to this day. In the 16th century, the originally open gallery was closed and the copper bonnet of the roof was made in the Renaissance style.
The student tower
Students from the Görlitz-Zittau University of Engineering used the tower from 1974 until February 1998.
They built a café on the first floor, in the former Türmerstube. When evening came, the café closed and a disco opened its doors on the second floor of the tower. Here, people danced and partied until the early hours of the morning.
Due to fire safety regulations, the students had to stop operating in the tower.
From 2000-2006, the tower stood unused in Görlitz. Since 2007, the Förderverein Kulturstadt Görlitz-Zgorzelec has been managing the Dicken Turm and regularly offers guided tours.
Tower tour „Dicker Turm“
Tours of the Dicken Turm start at the top of the hour. While we waited, there was plenty of time to look at the tower from the outside.
In front of us is a massive 46-metre high white plastered tower. At one point there is a door about 45 centimetres above the pavement, at another point a curved steel staircase leads up to another door.
High up we discovered a sandstone relief. Later we learned that this relief represents the coat of arms that Emperor Sigismund granted to the city after it had stood faithfully by the crown during the Hussite wars. In addition to the coat of arms, Mary and Saint Barbara are depicted, as well as the inscription “Invia Virtuti Nulla Est Via”, which translates as “no path is impossible for bravery”.
Originally, the relief was attached to the Lady’s Gate and found its place on the tower in 1856.
The tour starts at the lower door. After a step was placed in front of the door for easier access and we had paid our entrance fee, an exciting and varied tour of the tower began. What was particularly nice was that the tour also told us very vividly about the use of the tower in GDR times, partly from our own memories.
So now we were standing in the tower and were in a room that was once a powder magazine and prison. Only through the door was there any daylight, and I found the room cramped and very oppressive. It is hard to imagine that 8 people were sitting in the dungeon without any light. If they had shouted, they certainly could not have been heard at the foot of the tower, where the walls were 5.34 metres thick.
Fortunately, the stay here was only short and we went up the outside staircase on the other side of the tower to the upper tower area. A total of 138 steps lead up to the top platform of the Thick Tower. Some of the stairs have since been replaced by a modern steel construction, others are still made of wood and quite well-worn.
The thickness of the wall within the tower continues to taper towards the top, so that the area for use also becomes larger.
When we arrived on the first floor, I imagined what the café must have looked like in the past. There are small niches in the wall below the windows, and if there were tables there, it must have been a dream to sit there and enjoy the view over Görlitz. From each of the tower windows, a different view of the city opens up and one discovers one or two sights.
Climbing up one flight of stairs, one stands in the former disco or, if one thinks back even further, the turret lived and worked here as well. Above us lay the large roof beams, a false ceiling closes off the area where the bells hang. Here, too, one finds numerous small windows that can be opened to provide a view over the city.
In addition to many stories about the tower and explanations about the view over the city, you can take a look at a reconstructed turret kitchen and some old pictures. For us, a successful tower climb that brought us a little closer to the city.
Marienplatz / Ecke Steinstraße
Visit only possible with a guided tour (duration 45 minutes, meeting point at the tower without reservation)
Mid-March – end of December
Thursday-Sunday: 12-17 h (always on the hour)
Discounts are offered