This article is about the town on the border with Germany. For the village of the same name, see Zgorzelec, Greater Poland Voivodeship.

Panorama of the city


Coat of arms
Coordinates: 51°9′1″N 15°0′31″E / 51.15028°N 15.00861°E / 51.15028; 15.00861
Country  Poland
Voivodeship Lower Silesian
County Zgorzelec County
Gmina Zgorzelec (urban gmina)
  Mayor Rafał Gronicz
  Total 15.88 km2 (6.13 sq mi)
Population (2014)
  Total 31 716
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 59–900 to 59–903
Car plates DZG
Climate Cfb
Website zgorzelec.eu

Zgorzelec [zɡɔˈʐɛlɛt͡s] (German: Görlitz, Upper Sorbian: Zhorjelc) is a town in south-western Poland with 32,322 inhabitants (2012). 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.

In the following centuries it was a wealthy member of the Six-City League of Upper Lusatia, consisting of the six Lusatian cities Bautzen, Görlitz, Kamenz, Lauban, Löbau and Zittau. 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

Reconstructed old square, seen from the river

The Treaty of Zgorzelec, between Poland and East Germany, was signed in the city's community center in 1950. 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.

Miejski Dom Kultury is one of the cultural and community centers of Zgorzelec

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.[1]

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.


Turów Zgorzelec men's basketball team currently plays in the Tauron Basket Liga. In 2014 Turów won its first ever national championship and qualified to the Euroleague for the first time.

International relations

Twin towns – Sister cities

Zgorzelec is twinned with:

Notable residents


  1. "Ambasada Grecji w Warszawie – Grecy w Polsce". www.greece.pl. Archived from the original on 2 March 2003. Retrieved 2009-06-09.
  2. "Twinnings" (PDF). Central Union of Municipalities & Communities of Greece. Retrieved 2013-08-25.
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Coordinates: 51°09′01″N 15°01′31″E / 51.15028°N 15.02528°E / 51.15028; 15.02528

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