Görlitz, the easternmost town in Germany, is fast becoming a star of the screen. Its unadorned streets and cobbled marketplace are the backdrop for the book-burning sequence in The Book Thief, and the glorious Art Nouveau department store at its heart plays the title role in Wes Anderson’s latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, starring Ralph Fiennes. The store had been abandoned after it went bankrupt, but Anderson fell in love with it instantly.
Anderson is not the first director to see the potential of Görlitz. Quentin Tarantino chose Görlitz for the wartime Sicily setting of Inglourious Basterds. Görlitz has also played the part of 19th-century Paris in Around the World in 80 Days, starring Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. While filming The Reader Kate Winslet spent three weeks in Görlitz. Brad Pitt was here, too, as was Nicolas Cage, who celebrated his 42nd birthday in the city. The attraction includes 13th-century walls and still-standing towers, such as the massive Kaisertrutz, the 15th-century circular bastion that marked the gateway to the city, which is now the home of a town museum.
These fortifications reflect Görlitz’s role as an important staging post on the Via Regia, the oldest east-west trading route, from Santiago di Compostela to Kiev. The town’s architecture matched its status. And its later history saved it.
Today, its huge clutch of nearly 4,000 untouched buildings from all architectural periods – Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) – forms the largest connected area of preserved structures anywhere in Germany. Since reunification, a programme of restoration has gloriously enhanced this town, much of it mysteriously funded by an anonymous donor.
Consequently, Görlitz is a magnet for film-makers. There is strong support from the city and costs are low. Perhaps not for much longer – as Görlitz, with its impressive track record, markets itself as Görliwood.
While visiting Görlitz, stay at the Best Western Hotel Via Regia which is located in a listed building. This privately managed hotel is happy to welcome you in an authentic contemporary atmosphere, with all its modern amenities.
The guest rooms and apartments at the Best Western Hotel Via Regia have all been designed with a historical architectural touch. Large family rooms can accommodate families with children. Both a hotel restaurant and bar are available.
Facilities include an elevator to all floors, free Wi-Fi, free bicycle rental, and a relaxing sauna. The hotel grounds offer a secure car park and space for bicycles. BOOK NOW