Footbridge over the Neisse between Görlitz and Zgorzelec
|Gmina||Zgorzelec (urban gmina)|
|• Mayor||Rafał Gronicz|
|• Total||15.88 km2 (6.13 sq mi)|
|• Density||2,000/km2 (5,200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||59-900 to 59-903|
Zgorzelec [zɡɔˈʐɛlɛt͡s] ( ) (German: Görlitz, Upper Sorbian: Zhorjelc) is a town in south-western Poland with 31,684 inhabitants (2010). It lies in Lower Silesian Voivodeship (from 1975–1998 it was in the former Jelenia Góra Voivodeship). It is the seat of Zgorzelec County, and also of the smaller district of Gmina Zgorzelec (although it is not part of the territory of the latter, as the town is an urban gmina in its own right). Zgorzelec is located on the Lusatian Neisse river, on the post-1945 Polish-German Neisse border adjoining the German town of Görlitz, of which it constituted the eastern part up to 1945.
Up until 1945, the modern-day towns of Zgorzelec and Görlitz were a single entity; their history up to that point is shared.
The date of the town's foundation is unknown. It was first mentioned in 1071. At that time Görlitz was a small village named Gorelic in the region of Lusatia, which soon after became a part of Bohemia. In the 13th century the village gradually turned into a town. It became rich due to its location on the Via Regia, an ancient and medieval trade road.
The town of Gorlice in southern Poland was founded during the reign of Casimir the Great in 1354 by ethnic German colonists from Görlitz, in the last phases of eastward settlement by Germans (in this case by Walddeutsche).
After suffering for years in the Thirty Years' War, the region of Upper Lusatia (including Görlitz) passed to Saxony (1635). In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, the Congress of Vienna awarded Görlitz to Prussia. Thus the city was a part of the Prussian province of Silesia from 1815 until 1945.
After World War II
Following World War II, with the establishment of the Oder-Neisse line as the Polish-East German border, Görlitz (lying on the Neisse) was divided between the two countries. The German part retained the name Görlitz, while the Polish part became Zgorzelec. The German and Sorbian population was expelled from Zgorzelec and replaced with Poles and Greeks.
Starting in 1948, some 10,000 Greek Refugees of the Greek Civil War, mainly communist partisans, were allowed into Poland and settled mainly in Zgorzelec. There were Greek schools, a Greek retirement home and even a factory reserved for Greek employees. The majority of those refugees later returned to Greece, but a part remains to this day (see Greeks in Poland). The Greek community of Zgorzelec was instrumental in the building of Ss. Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church in 2002. Since 1999, an annual international Greek Song Festival has been held in Zgorzelec.
Since the fall of communism in 1989, Zgorzelec and Görlitz have developed a close political relationship. Two of the numerous bridges over the Neisse river that had been blown up by retreating German forces in World War II have been rebuilt, reconnecting the two towns with one bus line. There is also common urban management and annual common sessions of both town councils. In 2006 the towns jointly applied to be the European Capital of Culture in 2010. It was hoped that the jury would be convinced by the concept of Polish-German cooperation, but the award fell to Essen, with Görlitz/Zgorzelec in second place.
Twin towns — Sister cities
Zgorzelec is twinned with:
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zgorzelec.|
- (Polish) Zgorzelice in the Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland (1895)
- Official Municipal Site (in Polish)
- Tourist Information (in Polish/English/German)
- Civic Portal (in Polish)
- Urban Portal (in Polish)
- Info about Zgorzelec (in Polish)
- Görlitz Internet Portal (in German/English/Polish)
- The Old Town Bridge (online camera)
- "Görlitz/Zgorzelec - Urban development from 12th to 21st century" on YouTube