The Nikolaivorstadt is the oldest neighborhood in Görlitz located northwest of the old town. Even though it’s just minutes from the main sights it feels much more peaceful & relaxed. It’s my favorite area of Görlitz and the place where we have bought and are renovating our house! There are many beautiful & interesting sights in this neighborhood, which make it worthwhile to stray from the center during your visit to Görlitz to check some of them out.
This tower was part of the city fortifications and protected the northern gate. Nikolaiturm is 45m high (about 148 ft) and has a copper top. The first mention of the tower was in 1348 and until 1903 a tower guard lived inside the tower on the top floor, ringing the bell whenever there was trouble, such as a city fire.
The tower is open to visitors from April to December on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month. Tours are at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm and last 45 minutes. The price is of entry is €4. Inside the tower there is an interesting museum and they have kept the apartment furnished to look like it did when someone lived there. Once on top you will have a beautiful view of Görlitz. There are also four other towers in Görlitz that you can visit.
This garden path leads from the east side of the Peterskirche to the Nikolaiturm. The Nikolaizwinger was the area between the double city walls. The northern gate to the city stood between the Nikolaiturm and the present day Nikolaizwinger. In 1954 the space was converted into a green park, making it a peaceful place to sit or go for a walk. It’s usually many degrees cooler than the old town due to the shade.
The Hotherturm is also along the Nikolaizwinger. It was built in the 13th century and is the only remaining corner bastion of the 30 that once lined the city’s fortifications. The tower can be visited during the Scharfrichterführung (executioner’s tour) from March-October biweekly on Fridays at 5pm. The cost is €5.
Finstertor & Scharfrichterhaus
The Finstertor (dark gate), also known as Armesündertor (poor sinners’ gate) was part of the fortification of mud walls and fences protecting the Nikolaivorstadt and the last part of this wall remaining in Görlitz. It was first mentioned in 1455 and its name was due to the fact that condemned criminals would pass through the gate on their way to execution.
The Scharfrichterhaus, or executioner’s house, sits next to the Finstertor and is the only fully preserved half-timbered house in Görlitz. The outside of the house bears a sandstone tablet with the inscription “In the year of Christ 1676 LxSxB”. The initials refer to the executioner Lorenz Straßburger, who lived in the house at that time.
The Scharfrichterhaus can also be viewed in conjunction with the Scharfrichterführung.
The executioner in Görlitz didn’t only perform executions and torture criminals. It was also his task to remove dead livestock from the city, and using the scavenged parts of the animal to earn money, as well as “taking care” of stray dogs and cleaning filth from the streets. Because of this experience with animals, the executioner typically had a lot of anatomical knowledge and were called upon by the city people when they needed a surgeon for their animals and even for themselves. Still, the executioner remained a dishonorable position and he was required to live at the city gates, to wear a green hat and wasn’t permitted to enter taverns. It was also considered inappropriate to marry the children of an executioner.
Nikolaikirche & Friedhof
One of the oldest churches in the city, the Nikolaikirche hasn’t been used as a church in many years – instead it’s home to an expressionist style memorial to the city’s fallen soldiers in WWI. Beside this church is an amazing cemetery with elaborate gravestones & crypts dating back as far as the 1300s. The graveyard is free to enter and visitors can enter the church March through October with a €2 entrance fee.
The Spielzeugmuseum in Nikolaivorstadt has a collection of antique toys, as well as a permanent exhibit on toys from the GDR. They also have crafting events for children.
The toy museum in Görlitz is open Wednesday through Friday 10-4pm and 2-4pm, weekends from 2-5pm. Entry costs €3 for adults and €1.50 for children.
This monument in Görlitz is a replica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem built by a wealthy merchant in the 1500s after a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It’s just one stop from the Stations of the Cross. Each year on Easter a procession led by a man carrying a cross walks from the Peterskirche crypt to the Holy Grave.
Did you know?
Most people know that the film Grand Budapest Hotel was filmed in the Kaufhaus department store in Görlitz, but did you know that there were also filming locations in the Nikolaivorstadt? In one scene you can see a car barreling down the snowy cobblestone road inside of the old cemetery! Find out more.