The Untermarkt in Görlitz

The Untermarkt in Görlitz (lower market) is the older of the two main market squares in Görlitz and, in my opinion, the most beautiful spot in the city!

Get a feel for the summer vibes in the old town of Görlitz! Click here to watch my Tiktok video.

The Untermarkt is lined with beautiful Renaissance buildings and is divided in two by a row of buildings in the center of the square called die Zeile (the row). During warm seasons you can find people sitting out at the cafes and restaurants in the evenings, enjoying the magical atmosphere of the historic market with its cobble-stoned streets and arcades. Many of Görlitz’s festivals take place on the Untermarkt like the Tippelmarkt and Altstadtfest.

Here are a few things to be sure to look out for while you are exploring the lower market:

The Rathaus

The Rathaus (town hall) actually consists of several buildings from different time periods. The old town hall (Altes Rathaus) dates back to the Renaissance period – inside there are beautiful painted wood ceilings and you can peak into the inner courtyard with its bay window for the court.The Rathausturm (town hall tower) was built in the 16th century with elaborate clocks, dials and a lion that roars with organ pipes. If you take the tour of the tower you may be able to push the button that sets the lion roaring, like I did! But that’s not the only reason to climb to the top – the panoramic views of Görlitz from above are well worth the climb! The town hall steps are decorated with a statue of Justitia – but she is not blind, a symbol of the free jurisdiction that the city of Görlitz had.

The new town hall (Neues Rathaus) was built at the beginning of the 1900s in neo-Renaissance style and features the coat of arms of the Lusatian League – an alliance of six towns: Görlitz, Bautzen, Kamenz, Lauban, Löbau and Zittau. Lauban now lies in Poland and is called Lubań. This league increased the security and political influence of its member cities from 1346-1635.

There are regular tours of the towers in German. Please check the website for the current schedule.

The Schönhof

Schönhof is the oldest Renaissance building in Görlitz – after the city fire in 1525 it was rebuilt by the council’s master builder, Wendel Roskopf the Elder. The wooden ceilings and wall paintings inside have been preserved form the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries – that alone would make the building worth a visit, but it is also home to a fantastic collection of items housed by the Silesian Museum.

The Scales

The Scales (die Waage) is a Renaissance house in the middle of the Untermarkt. The Gothic foundation was built in around 1453 and added to in 1600 by the master builder Jonas Roskopf - a relative of Wendel Roskopf who created the Schönhof. The pillars on the ground floor show the image of the builder as well as others who were involved in its construction. When goods arrived in the city they were weighed, registered and paid for here. The building is currently empty.

Did you know?

There was a famous visitor on the Untermarkt – in 2005 Jackie Chan swung out of a window while filming Around the World in 80 Days. Görlitz appeared in the first 15 minutes of the film, primarily as a stand-in for Paris!

The Brauner Hirsch

Click here to see side-by-side comparison photos of scenes from the film Grand Budapest Hotel and their location in Görlitz

Literally called "The Brown Deer", this baroque town house located on the Untermarkt is one of the most extensive houses in the city. It used to be a distinguished hotel and brewery and has been redesigned many times. The current baroque facade was created in 1721 after a city fire that occurred in 1717. This building has been the set for many film productions - in addition to Grand Budapest Hotel they also filmed "Goethe!", "Der Hauptmann" and "Der Zauberlehrling" here. The Brauner Hirsch is only open to visitors during guided tours, which are offered in German. Underneath the facade are beautiful arcades, which surround most of the square. These were called „Tuchlauben“ or cloth arcades – because the cloth merchants would hang their goods here on display.

The Ratsapotheke

The Ratsapotheke (the town apothecary) is a Renaissance building with a beautiful façade and portal rebuilt by Wendel Roskopf the Younger around 1550 for a merchant. The facade of the house features two sundials by Zacharius Scultetus, brother of the famous Görlitz astronomer and mathematician Bartholomäus Scultetus. Until 1832 it was the only pharmacy in Görlitz and then after World War II it was a municipal building and residence. As part of the renovation work after the fall of the Wall, the beautiful and ornate portal was uncovered ß it had been bricked up for decades. Today you can sit outside and enjoy a coffee and dessert in its café.

The Flüsterbogen

The “Whispering Arch”(Flüsterbogen) gets its name from a unique auditory effect – if you put your ear to one end of the arch while someone whispers into the other, you can hear them clearly at the your end. So climb up and put your ear to the arch – don’t be embarrassed, every visitor has to try it at least once! The portal of the house at Untermarkt 22 was built in the 1500s in late Gothic style.

Further reading