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Gorica  (Slovene)
Guriza  (Friulian)
Gorisia  (Venetian)
Città di Gorizia
The old part of Gorizia seen from the castle in August 2008
Coat of arms
Location of Gorizia
Italy provincial location map 2016.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Gorizia in Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Italy Friuli-Venezia Giulia location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Gorizia (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)
Coordinates: 45°56′N13°37′E / 45.933°N 13.617°E / 45.933; 13.617 Coordinates: 45°56′N13°37′E / 45.933°N 13.617°E / 45.933; 13.617
Country Italy
Region Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Province Gorizia (GO)
Frazioni Castello, Lucinico (Ločnik), Oslavia (Oslavje), Piuma (Pevma), San Mauro (Šmaver), Sant'Andrea (Štandrež), Straccis (Stražišče), Vallone dell'Acqua, Gradiscutta, Piedimonte (Podgora)
  Mayor Rodolfo Ziberna (Forza Italia)
  Total41 km2 (16 sq mi)
84 m (276 ft)
 (November, 2017) [2]
  Density840/km2 (2,200/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Goriziani, Goričani
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code 0481
Patron saintSaints Hilary and Tatian
Saint dayMarch 16
Website Official website

Gorizia (Italian pronunciation:  [ɡoˈrittsja] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Slovene : Gorica [ɡɔˈɾìːtsa] , colloquially stara Gorica 'old Gorizia' [3] [4] to distinguish it from Nova Gorica; German : Görz, German pronunciation: [ɡœʁt͡s] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); Standard Friulian : Gurize, Southeastern Friulian : Guriza; Bisiacco : Gorisia, English (obsolete) "Goritz"), [5] is a town and comune in northeastern Italy, in the autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is located at the foot of the Julian Alps, bordering Slovenia. It was the capital of the former Province of Gorizia and is a local center of tourism, industry, and commerce. Since 1947, a twin town of Nova Gorica has developed on the other side of the modern-day Italian–Slovenian border. The entire region was subject to territorial dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia after World War II: after the new boundaries were established in 1947 and the old town was left to Italy, Nova Gorica was built on the Yugoslav side. Taken together, the two towns constitute a conurbation, which also includes the Slovenian municipality of Šempeter-Vrtojba. Since May 2011, these three towns have been joined in a common trans-border metropolitan zone, administered by a joint administration board. [6]


The name of the town comes from the Slovene word gorica 'little hill', which is a very common toponym in Slovene-inhabited areas. [7]


Middle Ages

Originating as a watchtower or a prehistoric castle controlling the fords of the Isonzo River, Gorizia first emerged as a small village not far from the former Via Gemina, the Roman road linking Aquileia and Emona (modern Ljubljana). The name Gorizia was recorded for the first time in a document dated April 28, 1001, in which Holy Roman Emperor Otto III donated the castle and the village of Goriza to the Patriarch of Aquileia John II and to Count Verihen Eppenstein of Friuli. The document referred to Gorizia as "the village known as Goriza in the language of the Slavs" ("Villa quae Sclavorum lingua vocatur Goriza").

The medieval center of Gorizia Goriziavecchia.JPG
The medieval center of Gorizia

Count Meinhard of the Bavarian Meinhardiner noble lineage, with possessions around Lienz in Tyrol, is mentioned as early as 1107; as a vogt of the Patriarchate of Aquileia he was enfeoffed with large estates in the former March of Friuli, including the town of Gorizia, and as early as 1127 called himself Graf von Görz, Count of Gorizia. In the late 13th century, the House of Gorizia emerged as one of the most important noble houses in the Holy Roman Empire. The borders of the County changed frequently in the following three centuries due to frequent wars with Aquileia and other counties, and also to the subdivision of the territory in two main nuclei: one around the upper Drava river with the center in Lienz, the other around Gorizia itself. Between the 12th century and early 16th century, the town served as the political and administrative center of this essentially independent County of Gorizia, which at the height of its power comprised the territory of the present-day regions of Goriška, southeast Friuli, the Karst Plateau, central Istria, western Carinthia and East Tyrol, and the Windic March with Bela Krajina.

From the 11th century, the town had two different layers of development: the upper castle district and the village beneath it. The first played a political-administrative role and the second a rural-commercial role. The name of the central square, known to this day in both languages as Travnik or Traunig ("meadow", in Slovene), testifies to this period.

In the late 15th century, the city rights were expanded to the lower town.

The Leopold Gate, built in the late 17th century in honor of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor Porta Leopoldina.JPG
The Leopold Gate, built in the late 17th century in honor of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor

Habsburg rule

In 1500, the dynasty of the Counts of Gorizia died out and their County passed to Austrian Habsburg rule, after a short occupation by the Republic of Venice in the years 1508 and 1509. Under Habsburg dominion, the town spread out at the foot of the castle. Many settlers from northern Italy moved there and started their commerce. Gorizia developed into a multi-ethnic town, in which Friulian, Venetian, German and the Slovene language were spoken.

In mid-16th century, Gorizia emerged as a center of Protestant Reformation, which was spreading from the neighboring northeastern regions of Carniola and Carinthia. The prominent Slovene Protestant preacher Primož Trubar also visited and preached in the town. By the end of the century, however, the Catholic Counter-Reformation had gained force in Gorizia, led by the local dean Johann Tautscher, who later became bishop of Ljubljana. Tautscher was also instrumental in bringing the Jesuit order to the town, which played a role in the education and cultural life in Gorizia thereafter.

Gorizia was at first part of the County of Görz and since 1754, the capital of the Princely County of Gorizia and Gradisca. In ecclesiastical matters, after the suppression of the Patriarchate of Aquileia in 1751, the Archdiocese of Gorizia was established as its legal successor on the territory of the Habsburg Monarchy. Gorizia thus emerged as a Roman Catholic religious center. The archdiocese of Gorizia covers a large territory, extending to the Drava River to the north and the Kolpa to the east, with the dioceses of Trieste, Trento, Como and Pedena subject to the authority of the archbishops of Gorizia. A new town quarter developed around the Cathedral where many treasures from the Basilica of Aquileia were transferred. Many new villas were built conveying to the town the typical late Baroque appearance, which characterized it up to World War I. A synagogue was built within the town walls, too, which was another example of Gorizia's relatively tolerant multi-ethnic nature.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Gorizia was incorporated to the French Illyrian Provinces between 1809 and 1813. After the restoration of the Austrian rule, the Gorizia and its County were incorporated in the administrative unit known as the Kingdom of Illyria. During this period, Gorizia emerged as a popular summer residence of the Austrian nobility, and became known as the "Austrian Nice". Members of the former French ruling Bourbon family, deposed by the July Revolution of 1830, also settled in the town, including the last Bourbon monarch Charles X who spent his last years in Gorizia. Unlike in most neighboring areas, the revolutionary spring of nations of 1848 passed almost unnoticed in Gorizia, thus reaffirming its reputation of a calm and loyal provincial town.

The Strassoldo Palace, residence of the Bourbon family in exile Palazzo Cronberg.JPG
The Strassoldo Palace, residence of the Bourbon family in exile
Gorizia at the beginning of the 20th century (Austria-Hungary) Gorizia Postcard - 1900 - Corso Verdi.jpg
Gorizia at the beginning of the 20th century (Austria-Hungary)

In 1849, the County of Gorizia was included in the Austrian Littoral, along with Trieste and Istria. In 1861, the territory was reorganized as the Princely County of Gorizia and Gradisca and granted regional autonomy. At that time, Gorizia was a multiethnic town; Italian and Venetian, Slovene, Friulian and German were all spoken in the town center, while in the suburbs Slovene and Friulian prevailed. Although some tensions between the Italian-Friulian and the Slovene population existed, the town continued to maintain a relatively tolerant climate in which both Slovene and Italian-Friulian cultures flourished.

On the eve of World War I, Gorizia had around 31,000 inhabitants and was the third-largest city in the Austrian Littoral, following Trieste and Pula (Pola). Another 14,000 people lived in the suburbs, making it one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the Alpe-Adria area, ahead of Klagenfurt, Maribor, Salzburg, Bozen or Trento. Within the city limits, about 48% of the population spoke Italian or Friulian as their first language, while 35% were Slovene speakers. In the suburbs, the Slovene speaking population prevailed, with 77% versus 21% Italian/Friulian speakers.

World War I

Gorizia was not on the frontline during the first 10 months of World War I, but the first Gorizian victim of the war occurred as early as August 10, 1914, when Countess Lucy Christalnigg was shot by Landsturmer guards while driving her car on a mission for the Austrian Red Cross. [8]

Italy entered World War I on the Allied side and conflict with Austria-Hungary began on May 24, 1915. The hills west of Gorizia soon became the scene of fierce battles between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian armies. The town itself was seriously damaged and most of its inhabitants had been evacuated by early 1916. The Italian Army occupied Gorizia during the Sixth Battle of the Isonzo in August 1916, with the front line moving to the eastern outskirts of the town. With the Battle of Caporetto in October and November 1917, when the Central Powers pushed the Italians back to the Piave River, the town returned to Austro-Hungarian control.

After the Battle of Caporetto, Gorizia became the focus of three competing political camps: the unified Slovene nationalist parties that demanded a semi-independent Yugoslav state under the House of Habsburg, the Friulian conservatives and Christian Socialists who demanded a separate and autonomous Eastern Friuli within an Austrian confederation, and the underground Italian irredentist movement working for unification with Italy. At the end of World War I, in late October 1918, the Slovenes unilaterally declared an independent State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, while the Friulians continued to demand an autonomous region under Habsburg rule. Gorizia became a contested town. In early November 1918, it was occupied by Italian troops again, who immediately dissolved the two competing authorities and introduced their own civil administration.

Kingdom of Italy

In the first years of Italian administration, Gorizia was included in the Governorate of the Julian March (1918–1919). In 1920, the town and the whole region became officially part of Italy. The autonomous County of Gorizia and Gradisca was dissolved in 1922, and in 1924 it was annexed to the Province of Udine (then called the Province of Friuli). In 1927 Gorizia became a provincial capital within the Julian March administrative region. During the fascist regime, all Slovene organizations were dissolved and the public use of Slovene language was prohibited. Underground Slovene organizations, with an anti-Fascist and often irredentist agenda, such as the militant insurrectionist organization TIGR, were established as a result. Many Slovenes fled to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and to South America, especially to Argentina. Many of these emigrants became prominent in their new environments. Very few Slovene-speaking intellectuals and public figures decided to stay in the town, and those few who did, like the writer France Bevk, were subject to persecution.

The town, heavily damaged during World War I, was rebuilt in the 1920s according to the plans laid out by the local architect Max Fabiani. Several rationalist buildings were built during this period, including some fine examples of Fascist architecture. The borders of the town were expanded, absorbing the suburbs of Salcano (Solkan), Podgora, Lucinico, and San Pietro di Gorizia (Šempeter pri Gorici), as well as the predominantly rural settlements of Vertoiba (Vrtojba), Boccavizza (Bukovica) and Sant'Andrea (Štandrež). According to the Italian census of 1921, the expanded town had around 47,000 inhabitants, among whom 45.5% were native Slovene, 33% Italian (mostly Venetian), and 20.5% Friulian speakers.

Benito Mussolini visited the town twice: in 1938 and in 1942.

After the Italian armistice in September 1943, the town was shortly occupied by the Slovene partisan resistance, but soon fell under Nazi German administration. Between 1943 and 1945 it was incorporated into the Operational Zone Adriatic Littoral. The town was briefly occupied by the Yugoslav Army in May and June 1945. With the arrival of the Yugoslav partisans in Gorizia in May 1945 a fierce repression began against the opponents, or potential opponents of the regime. At least 1,048 Italian civilians and military disappeared. [9] According to some historians, many of the killings and violence suffered by the Italian ethnic group in Gorizia (and the rest of Friuli and Venezia Giulia) by the Yugoslav army were perpetrated as part of an ethnic cleansing practiced by Tito. Soon the administration was transferred to the Allies, who ruled the town for more than two years, amidst fierce ethnic and political turmoil.

Post-war partition and return to Italy

See also Morgan Line, Treaty of Osimo

On September 15, 1947, the town came back to Italy. Several peripherical districts of the Gorizia municipality (Solkan, Pristava, Rožna Dolina, Kromberk, Šempeter pri Gorici, Vrtojba, Stara Gora, Ajševica, Volčja Draga, Bukovica, Vogrsko) were handed over to the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia, together with the vast majority of the former Province of Gorizia. Around a half of the pre-war area of the municipality of Gorizia, with an approximate 20% of the population, were annexed to Yugoslavia. The national border was drawn just off the town center, putting Gorizia into a peripheral zone. Several landmarks of the town, such as the Kostanjevica Monastery/Convento di Castagnevizza, Kromberk Castle/Castello Coronini, the Sveta Gora/Monte Santo pilgrimage site, the old Jewish cemetery, and the northern railway station, remained on the other side of the border. In 1948, the authorities of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia (with president Josip Broz Tito's special support) started building a new town called "Nova Gorica" ("New Gorizia") on their side of the border.

From the late 1940s onward, Gorizia gave refuge to thousands of Istrian Italians that had to flee the regions annexed to Yugoslavia. Many of those settled in the town, and had a role in shaping its post-war national and political identity.

Though a border city, Gorizia was only in part crossed by the border with Yugoslavia. Some important old buildings once belonging to Gorizia were included in the Yugoslav territory: these include the old railway station of the Transalpina line that connected Trieste to Villach, as well as to the town landmarks. Although the situation in Gorizia was often compared with that of Berlin during the Cold War, Italy and Yugoslavia had good relations regarding Gorizia. These included cultural and sporting events that favoured the spirit of harmonious coexistence that remained in place after Yugoslavia broke up in 1991.

With the breakup of Yugoslavia, the frontier remained as the division between Italy and Slovenia until the implementation of the Schengen Agreement by Slovenia on December 21, 2007.



Gorizia has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The town is located at the confluence of the Isonzo and Vipava Valleys. It lies on a plain overlooked by the Gorizia Hills. Sheltered from the north and from the east by a mountain ridge, Gorizia is completely protected from the cold bora wind, which affects the rest of the neighboring areas. The town thus enjoys exceptionally a mild Mediterranean climate throughout the year, making it a popular resort.

Climate data for Gorizia (1971–2000)
Record high °C (°F)18.4
Average high °C (°F)7.2
Daily mean °C (°F)3.3
Average low °C (°F)−0.1
Record low °C (°F)−14.2
Average precipitation mm (inches)49.6
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)82787574717270697477808175.8
Mean monthly sunshine hours 77.8100.4144.5179.7228.1249.9285.7261.3210.4144.099.862.42,044
Source: MeteoAM (sun and humidity 1961–1990) [10] [11]

Main sights

Border crossings

Informal border crossing on Transalpina Square Nova Gorica-train station-from NW corner of Piazza Transalpina.jpg
Informal border crossing on Transalpina Square

The Italy-Slovenia border runs by the edge of Gorizia and Nova Gorica and there are several border crossings between the cities. The ease of movement between the two parts of town have depended very much on the politics of both countries, ranging from strict controls to total free movement since December 21, 2007, when Slovenia joined the Schengen area.

Designated border crossings are (Gorizia-Nova Gorica):


Historical demography

The chart shows the historical development of the population of Gorizia from the late 18th century to the eve of World War I, according to official Austrian censuses. The figures show the population of the municipality of Gorizia in the boundaries of the time. The criteria for the definition of the ethnical structure were changing over the years: in 1789, only the religious affiliation of the population was taken into account; in 1869 the ethnic affiliation was also recorded, with Jews counted as a separate category; in 1880 the category of ethnicity was replaced by the mother tongue, and from 1890 to 1910 only the "language of everyday communication" (German: Umgangsprache) was recorded. After 1869, the Jews were only recorded as a religious community, under the official category of "Israelites". The data below refer to the population within the current borders of the city:

Census [12] [13] Ethnic structure
YearPopulationItalians Slovenes Germans Jews

Culture and education

Although the majority of the population identifies with the Italian culture, Gorizia is a center of Friulian and Slovene culture.[ citation needed ] Before 1918, the tri-lingual Gorizia Grammar School was one of the most important educational institutions in the Slovene Lands and for the Italians in the Austrian Littoral.[ citation needed ]

Nowadays, Gorizia hosts several important scientific and educational institutions. The University of Trieste, the University of Udine and the University of Nova Gorica all have part of their campuses and faculties located in Gorizia.

Gorizia is also the site of a choral competition, the "C. A. Seghizzi" International Choir Competition, which is a member of the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing.


Gorizia's synagogue Sinagoga di Gorizia.jpg
Gorizia's synagogue

The majority of the population of Gorizia is of Roman Catholic denomination. The town is the seat of the Archbishop of Gorizia, who was one of the three legal descendants of the Patriarchate of Aquileia (along with the Patriarchate of Venice and the Archdiocese of Udine). Between mid-18th century and 1920, Gorizia was thus the center of a Metropolitan bishopric that comprised the Dioceses of Ljubljana, Trieste, Poreč-Pula and Krk. Religious figures who lived and worked in Gorizia during this period include Cardinal Jakob Missia, Bishop Frančišek Borgia Sedej, theologians Anton Mahnič and Josip Srebrnič, and the Franciscan friar and philologian Stanislav Škrabec.

There are many important Roman Catholic sacral buildings in the area, among them the sanctuaries of Sveta Gora ("Holy Mountain") and the Kostanjevica Monastery, both of which are now located in Slovenia.

Until 1943, Gorizia was also home of a small but significant Jewish minority.[ citation needed ] Most of its members however perished in the Holocaust. A Lutheran community exists in Gorizia.


The city was host of the EuroBasket 1979.



Artists and architects

Politicians and public servants

Religious figures

Scholars and scientists



International relations

Twin towns – sister cities

Gorizia is twinned with: [14] [15]

See also

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