Görlitz was once surrounded by a double ring of city walls. The Nikolaizwinger is a preserved remnant of the defences around the city.
Originally, a city wall with city towers and over 30 bastions protected Görlitz from its attackers. Of the city towers, the Dicken Turm, the Nikolaiturm and the Reichenbacher Turm still exist today, and of the bastions, the Kaisertrutz, the Hotherbastei and the Ochsenbastei can still be found in the cityscape. The only surviving corner bastion is the Hotherturm.
The Nikolaizwinger is located between the double city wall ring at the entrance to the Nikolaivorstadt, directly at the Nikolai Tower
Redesign of the Nikolaizwinger
As part of the National Reconstruction Programme and with the help of numerous people from Görlitz, the garden architect Henry Kraft turned the Nikolaizwinger into a green space in 1953/54.
In the 1990s, the city wall was renovated and in the course of this work, the kennel was also renewed.
Stroll through the Nikolaizwinger
I enter the green area through a large wrought-iron gate. Immediately, I am surrounded by a pleasant coolness that prevails between the walls. A path leads through the kennel, there are a few benches in the shade of the trees and you can hardly hear the cars on the street, but some birds are chirping.
The Nikolaizwinger is divided into several sections. A forecourt with a lawn, a perennial garden, the rampart garden and the fountain terrace.
The perennial garden is characterised by four levels connected by small stairs. There are a few benches here that invite you to take a break.
From the Wallgarten you can reach the Hotherturm. This is located directly on the city wall and belongs to the Hotherbastei. This corner bastion served to secure the Nikolai and Neiße suburbs. The embrasures for the cannons are still clearly visible today. The tower can be visited on certain dates as part of the Görlitz Tower Tour. Unfortunately, this was not possible during our visit to the city.
At the Hotherturm, a new steel staircase leads from the bastion to the suburb. But you can also walk further to the Brunnenterrasse and then leave the Nikolaizwinger there.
The Ochsenzwinger (kennel)
About 80 metres upstream near St. Peter’s Church is the second surviving fortification in Görlitz, the Ochsenzwinger. This is also a section of the city’s former fortifications.
The “gate at the Kahle” formed a side entrance to the town. In the Middle Ages, a path led from there to the town’s cattle pastures and the ox kennel. The gate is no longer preserved today, but you can walk through the ox kennel.
If you come from Bergstraße to Ochsenbastei, you must not miss the Ernst Thälmann film set. On one wall you can’t miss the huge lettering that was painted there for the filming.
Today, this complex is designed like a garden, you can walk past beautifully laid out flower beds and take a look over the wall. Then you will discover the Old Town Bridge, which leads to Poland.