Görlitz on its way to World Cultural Heritage 

More than 4.000 architectural monuments in an undisturbed cityscape make Görlitz an outstanding testimony of European architectural history. The Görlitz hall houses located along the important European trade route via regia, today cultural route of the European Council, are the core of the historical ensemble representing the city’s flowering in the Late Middle Ages and Early Modern Times. Furthermore, being prominent testimonies of their era the hall houses are suitable to present the Central European trading system of the Early Modern period. In 2014, the jury appointed by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs to evaluate possible world heritage sites in Germany has acknowledged the city’s great potential.  

 

The city is currently doing research on this aspect with the aim of explaining the architecture of the hall houses developed throughout the centuries from Gothic to Renaissance as an imprint and reflection of the functional as well as representative needs of trading and of the merchants themselves. Within the framework of this research, comprehensive chronicles tracing back the owners of about 60 houses are being prepared. At the same time, intensive research on the houses and their construction is going on.

 

The exhibition located at the hall house Brüderstrasse 9 provides a current insight into this topic. Apart from outstanding photo installations, visitors can see a model of the hall house Brüderstrasse 9, printed with three-dimensional printing technology and dismantled in cross sections, furthermore a special animated film retracing the history of the hall houses starting from the 13th century and putting them in the context of Görlitz being a trading town at the VIA REGIA.

 

Görlitz and the VIA REGIA

 

The literally translated „Royal Road“ was considered to be one of the most important European trade routes of the Middle Ages, and it was the most essential lifeline for Upper Lusatia. Its first written documentation dates back to 1252. Archaeological findings from different parts of Europe from the Bronze Age until the post-Christian period bear witness of Upper Lusatia having been a transit region already before now.

 

The VIA REGIA connected Upper Lusatia with Western Europe and with the countries located in the East. People settled down at mountain slopes and river crossings, cities were founded, and thus, an infrastructure started to grew. Traders and carts transported goods, values and ideas along the trade route. Trade and craft supported the development of the cities. Hostels and forgings, workshops of wheelwrighters as well as churches were built.             

Due to its central location, out of a once Slavic settlement called “villa gorelic“, Görlitz developed into a powerful centre of trade and science. The region’s economy benefitted from the „Upperlusatian Six-Towns-League” founded in 1346 and consisting of Bautzen, Görlitz, Kamenz, Lauban, Löbau and Zittau. The current projects of investigation dealing with the Görlitz hall houses promise to open new perspectives by taking into consideration further hall houses as well, built in Eastern European cities along the VIA REGIA according to their prototypes located in Görlitz – particularly in Poland in the course of the 16th century. In this way, the world heritage issue pursued by the city of Görlitz is taking on a true international dimension.

 

The VIA REGIA was proclaimed „Cultural Route of the European Council“ in 2005 and is part of the network of European Cultural Routes. On a length of 4.500 kilometres, it connects Santiago de Compostela in Spain - via France, Germany and Poland - to Kiev in Ukraine. Apart from Görlitz, Frankfurt am Main, Erfurt, Leipzig, Bautzen, Wroclaw and Krakow are important places along the VIA REGIA.

Photo: Ulrich Schwarz
Photo: Rainer Michel
Photo: Ulrich Schwarz