GÖRLITZ, a town of Germany, in the Prussian province of Silesia, on the left bank of the Neisse, 62 m. E. from Dresden on the railway to Breslau, and at the junction of lines to Berlin, Zittau and Halle. Pop. (1885) 55,702, (1905) 80,931. The Neisse at this point is crossed by a railway bridge 1650 ft. long and 120 ft. high, with 32 arches. Görlitz is one of the handsomest, and, owing to the extensive forests of 70,000 acres, which are the property of the municipality, one of the wealthiest towns in Germany. It is surrounded by beautiful walks and fine gardens, and although its old walls and towers have now been demolished, many of its ancient buildings remain to form a picturesque contrast with the signs of modern industry. From the hill called Landskrone, about 1500 ft. high, an extensive prospect is obtained of the surrounding country. The principal buildings are the fine Gothic church of St Peter and St Paul, dating from the 15th century, with two stately towers, a famous organ and a very heavy bell; the Frauen-Kirche, erected about the end of the 15th century, and possessing a fine portal and choir in pierced work; the Kloster-Kirche, restored in 1868, with handsome choir stalls and a carved altar dating from 1383; and the Roman Catholic church, founded in 1853, in the Roman style of architecture, with beautiful glass windows and oil-paintings. The old town hall (Rathaus) contains a very valuable library, having at its entrance a fine flight of steps. There is also a new town hall which was erected in 1904-1906. Other buildings are: the old bastion, named Kaisertrutz, now used as a guardhouse and armoury; the gymnasium buildings in the Gothic style erected in 1851; the Ruhmeshalle with the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum, the house of the estates of the province (Ständehaus), two theatres and the barracks. Near the town is the chapel of the Holy Cross, where there is a model of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem made during the 15th century. In the public park there is a bust of Schiller, a monument to Alexander von Humboldt, and a statue of the mystic Jakob Böhme (1575-1624); a monument has been erected in the town in commemoration of the war of 1870/71, and also one to the emperor William I. and a statue of Prince Frederick Charles. In connexion with the natural history society there is a valuable museum, and the scientific institute possesses a large library and a rich collection of antiquities, coins and articles of virtu. Görlitz, next to Breslau, is the largest and most flourishing commercial town of Silesia, and is also regarded as classic ground for the study of German Renaissance architecture. Besides cloth, which forms its staple article of commerce, it has manufactories of various linen and woollen wares, machines, railway wagons, glass, sago, tobacco, leather, chemicals and tiles.
Görlitz existed as a village from a very early period, and at the beginning of the 12th century received civic rights. It was then known as Drebenau, but on being rebuilt after its destruction by fire in 1131 it received the name of Zgorzelice. About the end of the 12th century it was strongly fortified, and for a short time it was the capital of a duchy of Görlitz. It was several times besieged and taken during the Thirty Years War, and it also suffered considerably in the Seven Years War. In the battle which took place near it between the Austrians and Prussians on the 7th of September 1757, Hans Karl von Winterfeldt, the general of Frederick the Great, was slain. In 1815 the town, with the greater part of Upper Lusatia, came into the possession of Prussia.
See Neumann, Geschichte von Görlilz (1850).