Goerlitz - the wrong side of the track - Part 2

St Peter and Paul church in Goerlitz

This is a two-part blog. Read Part 1 here.

There is an extraordinary saving grace, however. Every year, an anonymous donor contributes around a million dollars to fund historical restoration works in the town. This incredible benefactor has stated that if his name becomes public the donations will cease. So far he’s remained recluse for more than 20 years.

I wandered off through the lower parts of Goerlitz. Some of the streets are truly out of a postcard factory. Imagine four- to five-storey baroque buildings lined up side by side all done in beautiful pastel shades, some with decorations.

Goerlitz 1 (39)Others, especially in the old city on the north of the railway, are narrow, cobbled and winding, with several dating back to the 1520s and a massive church spire at the end of them.

For instance, Neissstrasse 19 – This building is an historic brewery, as are nearby numbers 20 and 22. Multi-storied cellars can be visited here also. You can tell some of the old drinking establishments by two holes towards the top of the doorway; when they had hay in them a fresh brew was available; an ancient form of advertising.

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Dating back to the Romanesque period you can access the tunnel vaults through this portal with its shouldered arch and keystone crown which has the following inscription, “God helps, God has helped, God will help 1727”.

Above the central wing pavilion, held together by two pilasters and slightly standing out, a field of gables arise. Above that, two female figures, with horns of plenty, on the two sides of an ox eye are attached as relief.

Originally three further female figures adorned the gable but these were impacted and lost during the wars.

Definitely worth a look, as is the whispering arch where you can softly talk into the channel on one side of the door and someone on the other side can hear it perfectly.

At the main church I went in. It was freezing. No, I mean freezing! It must literally have been 10 degrees colder. Outside I had been stripped down to my shirt but I immediately went for my jumper. What a great place for wine storage I thought.

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Its title was Peterskirche – The foundation for this grand edifice was laid in May 1423 but the jamb portal can be dated to 1235 when a former pillar basilica of Romanesque style from the early 13th century was on the site.

It was a lovely church, the organ the finest I’ve seen (no jokes please, I’ve already run them all through my mind). It was set amongst exquisite green-coloured stuff made to fill in the gaps between the silver pipes with some filigree work here and there.

Goerlitz 1 (38)There were quite a few other special works, such as paintings and sculpture, but it wasn’t overkill like you get in Italian churches. Someone approached me. This was getting to be quite a habit.

It turned out to be Rudiger Buench and he was an affable young chap who offered to show me the crypt. “You can get stale in here and very cold. It’s good to have a break.” Indeed it was, the crypt being warmer than the church. Then again, everywhere other than Siberia would just about qualify in the northern hemisphere.

He showed me a 16th century much faded fresco of “Peter and Paul, but we don’t know who the other figures are”. He then enlightened me on other small carvings, very reminiscent of my East Grinstead tour in England; a place I’d just wandered into that was full of historical treasures.

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The most intact part of today’s church, the crypt, is located below the choir and was consecrated in 1457. 74 years of construction followed and the high copper roof above the middle three naves was finally finished in 1515. It was nearly 100 years after the start when the portals on the northern and southern side were completed.

One of the eye-catching features of the main church is the gold plated pulpit that dates from 1695.

Tragically this had to be built because during a blaze in 1691 most of the late Gothic inventory was lost, including, 30 carved altars, bells, both organs, books and other valuables.

It never ceases to surprise me just how much damage has been wrought in historic European cities by the demon fire.

My digs are in one of the lovely baroque buildings, obviously not designed originally for lifts as the lift that is there stops on every half floor so, no matter where you are, you have to walk at least half a flight of stairs. The room is comfy and, at last I have CNN again but I ended up watching the UEFA cup live. They cover all three games and flit from match to match, so it’s full on entertainment. Goerlitz has left me very content.

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