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Informacja Turystyczna Zgorzelca. www.it.zgorzelec.pl

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In the oldest remained documents Zgorzelec appears as Villa Goreliz (1071), Yzcorelik, Yzcorzelik (1126), Drenow, Drzewniow (1131), Gorlez (1234), Gorliz, Gorlic (1238). The name of the town probably derived from the verb ‘goreti’ ie. to burn, to flame. In the gentry Poland the nearby Neiße city was called Gerlicz, Gierlicz, Gorlic then. In the 19th century many Polish variations of the place were noticed – Gorlice, Zgórzelec, Zgorzelica, Gorlicz, but the most often ones were Zgorzelec and Zgorzelice. The latter one was to be reanimated after World War II but in 1946 they finally approved the name Zgorzelec.

The oldest mention of Zgorzelec appears in a document issued by emperor Henryk IV in 1071. According to his will, Benon the bishop of Meissen (Miśnia) received eight royal cornfields in ‘villa Goreliz’. The following mentions of the place come from the times of prince Sobiesław’s reigns – Czech chronicle says that in 1126 and in 1131 the prince ordered to erect fortifications near the banks of the river Neiße. The meaningful influence on the erection and development of the city had its advantageous communication situation. It was exactly the place where the most important tracks of the contemporary Europe crossed: Via Regia (The Royal Road) and the road from Prague to the Baltic ports. Merchants, pilgrims, knights and German colonialists moved across the way, and in times of fight conflicts mostly the army used the settlement. In 12th century on the left bank of the river Nysa a merchant settlement and St. Nicolaus church were established. At first there was not a bridge that would connect the both banks of the river Nysa Łużycka and people had to swim across it. According to the latest hypothesis the ford was placed in the mouth of the stream Lunitzbach – slightly to the north of present Wrocławska Street. In 1220 thanks to the colonization action, Zgorzelec got the city rights. In the 50s of 13th century a great amount of Flamand clothiers settled in Zgorzelec – a development of the city and erecting the other New Market was necessary – the cloth production made the city by the banks of Neiße famous. In 1253-1319 years Zgorzelec altogether with Łużyce was under the ruling of Askanians – but after margrave Waldemar the Great’s death it changed its ruler into Henryk I, the prince of Jawor from the Piast dynasty. In 1329 the city goes back under Chech’s reigns – a reasonable economic strengthening of the city comes, Zgorzelec receives a variety of significant privileges, among others: no duty charges in the countries of The Czech Crown. In 1346 Zgorzelec was one of co-founders of the Union of Six Cities – a confederation joining royal cities of the Upper Łużyce. One of the most important tasks of the Union was stopping assaults and robberies of the rowdy knightage. Zgorzelec, with an economical and civil surpassing over other cities was the most significant in the Union.

The summit of its magnificence the city observed in the second half 15th century and in the first half 16th century. Along the Via Regia track, from Erfurt to Wrocław, there was not a bigger city centre than Zgorzelec then. In 1415 in the city and its suburbs there lived about 7800 people, in 1500 – 8000 people, and in 1533 – 10600 people. In 15th and 16th centuries the city took part in the international trade as an economic intermediary between German countries, Polish-Lithuanian country, Moscow country and Hungary. The first fortunes of Zgorzelec patricians’ grow. A repeated mayor Jerzy Emerich called ‘the king from Zgorzelec’ by Maciej Korwin was the owner of Sulików town and a series of villages, id. Lasów, Jerzmanki, Jędrzychowice, Żarska Wieś, Tylice and Wyręba.

The first serious blow for the city was Ferdinand I Habsburg’s statement of withdrawing privileges and seizure of the land estates. Lost prerogatives and assets were regained later but the costs were enormous. The power and strength from before 1547 the city never got back. The thirty-year war left negative aspects – the city was incessantly gained by the fighting sides. During that long armed conflict, two important political events for Lausitz took place in Zgorzelec – in 1635 the Czech’s rulings finished in Upper Łużyce definitely and the whole margraviate went to hereditary possession of Wettins.

In the second half of 17th century the city carried the burden of war damages - trade and craft started developing again. Zgorzelec becomes the most significant cultural centre of Luzyce, the great acknowledgement got the local Augustum Grammar School which was already founded in 1565 in the building of the former Fransciscan monastery. Unfortunately, the Swedish deluge and Silesian wars cost huge amounts, which the city needs to spend on contributions and compulsory deliveries of food for the armies. The beginning of 19th century was also not too favourable to the city taking into account Napoleonic wars - they brought plenty of material and financial damages.. On the basis of the Vienna Congress decisions Zgorzelec was incorporated into the Prussian country. The first twenty years of Prussian government was not too successful for the city, but new opportunities appeared when the German Duty Union was established (1834). In 30s and 40s of 19th century the city started to play an important role as a place of Silesian and Lower Luzyce corn transshipment. Simultaneously , the export of the Zgorzelec cloth to German Danube princedoms, southern Italy, Greece, Turkey, Persia, India and China intensified. In the middle of 19th century the city quickly enters the way of industrialization - textile, machinery, optical, ceramics and chemical industries develop. A great contribution into the economic liveliness has the erection of new railway liner. In 1846-1847 Zgorzelec got the connection with Wrocław and Dresden, and in the following years with Lubań and Żytawa.

On 8th May 1945 the city was captured by the Soviet troops. In the summer 1945 in Potsdam they decided to join the eastern, right-bank part of the city to Poland. On 6th July 1950 in the building of Zgorzelec community centre an agreement between PRL and DDR of marking 'The Border of Peace and Friendship on The River Nysa Łużycka was signed - later, the agreement was known as the Zgorzelec Agreement.

During 40's and 50's turn thousands of Greeks and Macedonians settled here because of the oppressions in their countries. They were oppressed because of their political beliefs. In the post-war history of the city the breakthrough event was building the industrial petrol-energetic combine in the 50's in Turów. The city was to be the dwelling, trade, and cultural facility. At the beginning of 60's the population exceeded 20 thousand people, and in 1975 there were over 30 thousand people. In 1957 the railway border crossing resumed its activity, and in 1971 when road crossing the border was passport free, Zgorzelec became one of the most important border crossings on the west of the country.

The long-lasting contacts with Görlitz bore fruit in proclaiming the Europecity on 5th May 1998 - in the future one urban body situated on the both banks of the river Nysa Łużycka is to be established.

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