The Frauenkirche in Görlitz sits right in the center of the city, surrounded by the tram, the famous Kaufhaus and a shopping center. It wasn’t always in such a crowded spot, however. When the church was first built in the 1300s, it was outside of the city walls.
The Frauenkirche is the youngest of the pre-Reformation churches in Görlitz. The three-naved Protestant church was first likely a wood structure and then eventually rebuilt in late Gothic style.
In 1349, Görlitz asked a powerful local lord, Friedrich von Bieberstein, for help. He ruled over parts of Bohemia and had a castle in Friedland (now Frydlant in Czech Republic). The town of Görlitz needed help apprehending and arresting a “disturber of the peace” named Nitsche von Rackwitz. They asked the lord for help and it was promised, but when no help came, some armed citizens decided to take matters into their own hands.
They tracked down von Rackwitz and found him hiding on von Bieberstein’s lands. But when Bieberstein found out that the men from Görlitz were on his land, he declared them invaders and had them attacked by his men. Seven of the men from Görlitz died.
The city of Görlitz was very upset about this betrayal. After some back-and-forth, von Bieberstein decided to try to make amends by funding the building of a new church, the Frauenkirche. It would be a hospital church outside of the city walls with a graveyard. However, the money he gave was insufficient and the building stalled until the plague came along, making the completion of the church and its graveyard more urgent.
The Frauenkirche was never the most popular church in the city, the Peterskirche was inside the city walls and had a large congregation. However the church grew in importance after the extension of the city in 1840 to the south. The wall surrounding the church and the graveyard were removed to make way for the extension, a few gravestones remain on the outer church walls today.
In 1989 during the peaceful revolution in East Germany, the Frauenkirche was the first church in the city to hold prayers for peace, a weekly meeting of people on Monday who would meet and then march peacefully, protesting the East German government.
The church is very simple inside and out with three aisles, vaulted ceilings and high windows. The organ which was added in the 1970s had to be renovated recently. During renovations, 500 year old graffiti was found in the room behind the organ on the walls, probably left behind by pilgrims. They are similar to the markings on the Holy Grave in Görlitz, another popular place of pilgrimage.
Although the Frauenkirche isn’t the most beautiful church in Görlitz, it has a fascinating history and still has highly attended services and concerts. The church is open seven days a week until 6pm to visitors and entrance is free. Permission to take photographs costs €1.50.
Click here to find out more about the other historic churches in Görlitz!