Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region, Italy

History | Habsburg rule | World War I | Kingdom of Italy | Postwar partition and return to Italy | Tourist Industry | Border crossings | Culture and education | Religion | Sport

🇮🇹 Gorizia, is a town and comune in north-eastern 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 centre 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. The name of the town comes from the Slovene word gorica 'little hill', which is a common toponym in Slovene-inhabited areas.


History 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").

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 centre in Lienz, the other around Gorizia itself. Between the 12th century and early 16th century, the town served as the political and administrative centre of this essentially independent County of Gorizia, which at the height of its power comprised the territory of the present-day regions of Goriška, south-east 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.


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 Slovene were spoken.

In mid-16th century, Gorizia emerged as a centre of Protestant Reformation, which was spreading from the neighboring north-eastern 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 Gorizia 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.

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 multi-ethnic town; Italian and Venetian, Slovene, Friulian, and German were all spoken in the town centre, 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.

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 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. 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.


Postwar partition and return to Italy On September 15, 1947, the town was assigned to Italy. Several peripheral districts of the municipality of Gorizia (Solkan, Pristava, Rožna Dolina, Kromberk, Šempeter pri Gorici, Vrtojba, Stara Gora, Ajševica, Volčja Draga, Bukovica, and 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 prewar 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 centre, 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 fled the regions annexed to Yugoslavia. Many of those settled in the town and had a role in shaping its postwar 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.


Tourist Industry • The castle, built within the medieval walls, was once the seat of the administrative and judiciary power of the county. It is divided into the Corte dei Lanzi (with foundings of a high tower demolished in the 16th century), the Palazzetto dei Conti (13th century) and the Palazzetto Veneto. The Lanzi were the armed guards, the term being an Italian form of Landsknecht. The palatine chapel, entitled to Saint Bartholomew houses canvases of the Venetian school of painting and traces of Renaissance frescoes. There is also a Museum of the Goritian Middle Ages. • The cathedral (originally erected in the 14th century), like many of the city's buildings, was almost entirely destroyed during World War I. It has been rebuilt following the forms of the 1682 edifice, a Baroque church with splendid stucco decoration. A Gothic chapel of San Acatius is annexed to the nave. • The church of Gorizia of St. Ignatius of Loyola, built by the Jesuits in 1680–1725. It has a single nave with precious sculptures at the altars of the side chapels. In the presbytery Christoph Tausch painted a Glory of St. Ignatius in 1721. • The Palazzo Attems Petzenstein (19th century), designed by Nicolò Pacassi. • Saint Roch's Church. • Palazzo Cobenzl, today seat of the archbishops. • The Counts of Lantieri's house, which housed emperors and popes in its history. • The Palazzo Coronini Cronberg, including an art gallery. • Transalpina railway square, divided by an international border. • The Department of International and Diplomatic Sciences of the University of Trieste, hosted in the "Seminario Minore", is an academic course in foreign affairs. • Oslavia War Memorial.


Border crossings 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 has 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): • Casa Rossa-Rožna Dolina: main international crossing checkpoint • Via San Gabriele-Erjavčeva ulica: previously only for local traffic with passes, nearest crossing to Nova Gorica center • Via del Rafut-Pristava: previously only for local traffic with passes • San Pietro (Via Vittorio Veneto)/Šempeter pri Gorici (Goriška ulica) • Transalpina Square: open pedestrian square dissected by the border that was once fenced. The square was never an official crossing and signboards were erected to prohibit people from crossing the square from one side to the other • The major highway crossing at Sant'Andrea-Vrtojba is located nearby to the south of the city.


Culture and education Although the majority of the population identifies with the Italian culture, Gorizia is a centre of Friulian and Slovene culture. Before 1918, the trilingual Gorizia Grammar School was one of the most important educational institutions in the Slovene Lands and for the Italians in the Austrian Littoral.

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.


Religion 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 centre 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 had a Jewish community; most of its members died in the Holocaust. A Lutheran community exists in Gorizia.


Sport The city was host of the EuroBasket 1979.

Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia 
Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia
Image: Adobe Stock xbrchx #265526240

Gorizia has a population of over 34,430 people. Gorizia also forms the centre of the wider Gorizia Province which has a population of over 139,902 people.

To set up a UBI Lab for Gorizia see: https://www.ubilabnetwork.org Twitter: https://twitter.com/UBILabNetwork

Twin Towns, Sister Cities Gorizia has links with:

🇮🇹 Grosseto, Italy 🇦🇹 Klagenfurt, Austria 🇦🇹 Lienz, Austria 🇮🇹 Sassari, Italy 🇳🇱 Venlo, Netherlands 🇭🇺 Zalaegerszeg, Hungary
Text Atribution: Wikipedia Text under CC-BY-SA license

Antipodal to Gorizia is: -166.383,-45.933

Locations Near: Gorizia 13.6167,45.9333

🇸🇮 Nova Gorica 13.633,45.95 d: 2.3  

🇮🇹 Trieste 13.767,45.651 d: 33.5  

🇸🇮 Koper 13.733,45.55 d: 43.6  

🇮🇹 Udine 13.237,46.065 d: 32.8  

🇸🇮 Postojna 14.214,45.776 d: 49.4  

🇦🇹 Villach 13.85,46.617 d: 78.1  

🇭🇷 Pazin 13.914,45.229 d: 81.7  

🇸🇮 Kranj 14.367,46.233 d: 66.8  

🇦🇹 Spittal an der Drau 13.483,46.783 d: 95.1  

🇸🇮 Ljubljana 14.523,46.07 d: 71.6  

Antipodal to: Gorizia -166.383,-45.933

🇹🇴 Nuku'alofa -175.216,-21.136 d: 17143.1  

🇦🇸 Pago Pago -170.701,-14.279 d: 16472.2  

🇼🇸 Apia -171.76,-13.833 d: 16410.2  

🇵🇫 Papeete -149.566,-17.537 d: 16496.4  

🇺🇸 Hilo -155.089,19.725 d: 12625.8  

🇺🇸 Maui -156.446,20.72 d: 12536  

🇺🇸 Maui County -156.617,20.868 d: 12522  

🇺🇸 Wailuku -156.505,20.894 d: 12517.6  

🇺🇸 Kahului -156.466,20.891 d: 12517.4  

🇺🇸 Honolulu -157.85,21.3 d: 12489.6  

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