Even though we are on a program in Berlin, our program coordinators believed it would be good for us to see a little bit more of Germany this past weekend - so we headed to Görlitz in the East of Germany! What a great experience! Not only did we bond a little bit more as a group, but we got to experience an entirely different way of life in Germany that is different from what we have seen and experiences here in Berlin.
Görlitz is a town in the state of Saxony (there are 16 states in Germany) with about 56,000 inhabitants. It lies opposite the Polish town of Zgorzelec, which was part of Görlitz until 1945. Here it is literally a river that divides the two towns/countries. Görlitz is characterized by medieval architecture and art which makes the town quite charming. There are many protestant churches and sites dedicated to the history of the area, science and more. The town had burned down in the 1600's and some of this is still visible today. Interestingly enough, the King at the time was furious when this happened because of the Nightwatch - a man that sat in a tower and had to keep an eye out for danger, who was asleep and did not warn the inhabitants of Görlitz. The King decided to execute this man and make a statue-like figure of him situated on the town's newly built tower. The figure was a face with eyes and a mouth that would open every 90 seconds. The reason behind this was that the King wanted this man to continue his life in misery by always having his eyes and mouth open even now that he was dead. This is one example of the type of things you will find in Görlitz which makes the town very interesting and mysterious.
When walking around in Görlitz, it also feels like you might be in a movie. Well, this is not an unfounded feeling since Görlitz have been the site where many movies have been created. This explains why the town is sometimes referred to as Görliwood - the Hollywood of Germany. Due to the historical parts of the city, many movie-makers have used various sites as locations. Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, The Book Thief, The Reader, and The Grand Budapest Hotel are all movies that have been entirely or partly made here. We got to know this in a really interactive way. We did a Görliwood Scavenger hunt where we had to go to different sites where movie scenes were shot and take a picture with our group to re-enact the relevant scene. This made for hilarious moments and really getting to know the town of Görlitz.
This past weekend was really great and showed us a different side of Germany that was very impressive. Görlitz was a great place to reflect on our first week in Germany and we made many memories to remind of our time here.