The best view from one of the many towers in Görlitz can certainly be enjoyed from the Town Hall Tower. The climb is worthwhile and is simply part of a visit to the city.
Town hall of Görlitz
The city of Görlitz received the Magdeburg city charter in 1303. This was the starting signal for the planning of the construction of a representative administrative building. Within the city, however, building land was scarce and so it was decided to buy an existing building on Untermarkt and not to build a new one.
The oldest part of the town hall, which was previously used as the home of a Bohemian servant, is still located at Untermarkt 6. Several reconstructions followed and in the 16th century the building was extended. From 1870, work began on creating a uniform façade.
The Town Hall Tower
In 1378, there is a mention of the little tower at the town hall. However, the height of the tower must not have been sufficient for the people of Görlitz. From 1511 to 1516, the tower was raised by 60 metres. Of course, the idea of a good view over the city was in the foreground. However, not for visitors to the tower, but for the protection of the city. For many years, tower guards lived in the tower with their families, who had to keep an eye out for danger.
The tower was built octagonally and surrounded by a parapet on the top floor. After a lightning strike destroyed the tower in 1742, it was rebuilt to its present form. Two clocks were installed on the market side in the course of the reconstruction.
About clocks and roaring lions at the town hall tower
When I looked at the two superimposed clocks on the town hall tower, the first thing that caught my eye was the upper moon phase clock. A really beautiful clock that depicts the lunar calendar. The outer ring of the clock shows 24 hours, the middle ring shows the phases of the moon and the inner ring shows the calendar day. Due to the calendar change, the inner ring no longer works today, but the moon phases are still displayed.
The second clock has twelve digits. The centre of the clock is a head. According to legend, it is the head of a town watchman. He slept through the town fire and is said to have been walled up alive in the tower. The figure opens and closes its orange eyes every minute. The colour of the eyes is supposed to reflect the city fire, and the open mouth is supposed to illustrate the astonishment / horror that the tower guard felt when he discovered the fire.
Above the two clocks is the golden Bohemian lion. Unfortunately, it cannot be fully seen from the lower market. In the Middle Ages, this lion is said to have roared powerfully at midnight by means of a mechanical principle with the help of an organ movement. This was done to scare away thieves.
For many years the lion was silent, the mechanism was defective and repairing it was not so easy. Today, thanks to a new mechanism, the lion roars again. However, only when a tower tour is taking place and the guide is operating the mechanism.
The Town Hall Tower is regularly opened for guided tours. There is no need to register, but the number of participants is limited. The meeting point is the town hall staircase, built in 1527, which is also known as the wedding staircase. Today, bridal couples like to have their photos taken on the curved staircase.
Actually, the staircase led into the court wing of the town hall. To the side of the staircase hangs the Annunciation pulpit on a pair of columns. The decoration of the pulpit is unusual. You can see Eve in the Fall and putti using the railing as a slide. In 1591, the statue of Justice was added. It too is very unusual, the usual blindfold is missing from this depiction. Was this a criticism of the administration of justice in Görlitz?
We climbed the steps on the guided tour and this began the counting of the steps, which would end at 191 at the top of the tower.
The door to the town hall opens and we first go through a small entrance area from where we go out the next few steps. Through a window you can have a look into a beautiful courtyard.
Behind a door we entered the attic of the house. This attic was used as a shooting range in GDR times. From there, the path led us to the top of the tower.
There are a few short stops during the ascent of the tower, which are not just for catching your breath. During this time, you get a lot of interesting information about tower guards, clocks, bells and of course the tower lion. The lion let out its inimitable roar for us while we learned about the mechanism.
Then we entered the small tour of the tower. And really, from up there you have an excellent view over the city. On a clear day, you can see as far as the Schneekoppe in the Krkonoše Mountains and the Lusatian Mountains. During our visit, the view was not quite as good, but you could see the Landeskrone very well. Yes, and the view over the Obermarkt and Untermarkt and the many beautiful houses of Görlitz is really good. From up there, you have a good overview of the city and we were lucky enough to be given lots of tips for a city tour.
Görlitz film locations
Of course, the beautiful town hall staircase has not gone unnoticed by film-makers. Scenes from “Grim Reaper” and “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” were filmed here.
The town hall tower can be seen in Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece “Inglourious Basterds”. In one scene, a resistance fighter was shot from a tower in a small Italian town. That was the town hall tower in Görlitz.
March – December:
Wednesday – Sunday: 11 am – 6 pm always on the hour
Discounts are offered.