Tucked away in the country's easternmost corner, Görlitz's quiet, narrow cobblestone alleys and exquisite architecture make it one of Germany's most beautiful cities. It was almost completely untouched by the destruction of World War II, and as a result it has more than 4,000 historic houses in styles including Gothic, Renaissance, baroque, rococo, Wilhelminian, and art nouveau. Although the city has impressive museums, theater, and music, it's the ambience created by the casual dignity of these buildings, in their jumble of styles, that makes Görlitz so attractive. Notably absent are the typical socialist eyesores and the glass-and-steel modernism found in many eastern German towns.
Görlitz was once a major commercial hub, profiting from its location on the Via Regia, the main trade route between Moscow and Barcelona. Almost every building in the old town was once used either in the textile trade or as a brewery. Although fires routinely ravaged the town, the Potsdam Agreement dealt Görlitz its harshest blow, reducing the size of the city by a third, by ceding everything east of the Neisse River to Poland. As a result, Görlitz fell into small-town oblivion after World War II. Today it remains a divided city, with the Polish border running through the middle-a stark reminder of the past