Gorizia 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 by a mountain ridge, Gorizia is protected from the cold Bora wind that affects most of the neighbouring areas. The town thus enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate throughout the year, making it a popular resort.
Originating as a watchtower or a prehistoric castle controlling the fords of the river Isonzo, Gorizia first emerged as a small village not far from the former Via Gemina, the Roman road linking Aquileia and Emona (the modern Ljubljana). The name of Gorizia was recorded for the first time in a document dated April 28, 1001, in which the 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. The borders of the county changed frequently in the following four 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 near Lienz, the other centered on 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 and East Tyrol.
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.
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 centre of Protestant Reformation, which was spreading from the neighbouring 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, Catholic Counter-Reformation had gained force in Gorizia, led by the local dean Janez Tavčar, who later became bishop of Ljubljana. Tavčar 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 aRoman Catholic religious centre. The archdiocese of Gorizia coverws 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 neighbouring 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 a high degree of regional autonomy. At that time, Gorizia was a multiethnic 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 culture flourished.
On the eve of World War I, Gorizia had around 31,000 inhabitants and was the 3rd largest city in the Austrian Littoral, following Trieste and Pula (Pola). Another 14,000 people lived in the suburbs, making it among the most populous urban agglomerations in the Alpe-Adria area, ahead of Klagenfurt, Marienberg, Salzburg, Bozen or Trento. Within the city limits, about 48% of the population spoke Italian or Friulian, with 35% Slovene speakers. In the suburbs, the Slovene speakers prevailed, with 77% versus only 21% speaking Italian/Friulian.
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 a scenery of fierce battles between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian Army. The town itself was seriously damaged and most of its inhabitants were evacuated by early 1916. The Italian Army conquered 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, the political life in Austria-Hungary resumed and 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 the 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, which immediately dissolved the two competing authorities and introduced their own civil administration.
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 adiministrative 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. 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.See also Morgan Line, Treaty of Osimo
On September 15, 1947, the town came back to Italy again. 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 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 (Transalpina 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 the Kostanjevica Monastery/ Convento di Castagnevizza, Kromberk Castle/ Castello Coronini, the Sveta Gora/ Monte Santo pilgrimage site, the old Jewish cemetery. 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.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.
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):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 square from one side to the other
The major highway crossing at Sant'Andrea-Vrtojba is located nearby to the south of the city.
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 boundiaries 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:
Although the majority of the population identifies with the Italian culture, Gorizia is a center of Friulian and Slovene culture. 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.
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.
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. Several important religious figures lived and worked in Gorizia during this period, including Cardinal Jakob Missia, Bishop Frančišek Borgia Sedej, theologians Anton Mahnič and Josip Srebrnič, and Franciscan monk and philologian Stanislav Škrabec.
There are many important Roman Catholic sacral buildings in the area, among them the sancturies 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. Most of its members however perished in the Holocaust. A Lutheran community exists in Gorizia.
The city was host of the EuroBasket 1979.France Bevk (1890–1970), writer, Poet and translator
Andrej Budal (1889–1972), Writer and translator
Simon Gregorčič (1844–1906), poet
Julius Kugy (1858–1944), Writer and mountaineer
Paolo Maurensig (b. 1943), novelist
Fulvio Melia (b. 1956), author
Franz Caucig (1755–1828), Painter
Tullio Crali (1910–2000), Futurist artist
Max Fabiani (1865–1962), Architect
Gojmir Anton Kos (1896–1970), Painter
Antonio Lasciac (1856–1946), Architect
Rodolfo Lipizer (1895–1974), Violinist
Nicolò Pacassi (1716–1790), Architect
Veno Pilon (1896–1970), Painter
Carlo Tavagnutti (b. 1929), photographer
Jožef Tominc (1790–1866), Painter
Engelbert Besednjak (1894–1968), politician
Darko Bratina (1942–1997), Slovene Italian politician, sociologist, and film critic
Baron Anton von Doblhoff-Dier (1800–1872), Austrian statesman
Carlo Favetti (1819–1892), Italian liberal nationalist politician and poet
Josip Ferfolja (1880–1958), Slovene Social Democrat politician, lawyer and human rights activist
Anton Füster (1808–1881), Austrian revolutionary activist, author and pedagogue
Karel Lavrič (1818–1876), Slovene politician and lawyer
Tomaž Marušič (b. 1932), Slovenian politician and lawyer
Bogumil Vošnjak (1882–1955), Yugoslav liberal politician, lawyer, historian
Anton Mahnič (1850–1920), Roman Catholic bishop, author and political activist
Isaac Samuel Reggio (1784–1855), Scholar and Rabbi
Janez Svetokriški (1647–1714), Franciscan monk and preacher
Graziadio Isaia Ascoli (1829–1907), Linguist
Franco Basaglia (1924–1980), Psychiatrist
Martin Baučer (1595–1668), historian
Václav Bělohradský (b. 1944), philosopher
Milko Brezigar (1886–1958), Economist
Johannes Christian Brunnich (1866–1931), Chemist
Nello Cristianini (born 1968) Scientist
Jonathan Kaye (linguist) (born 1942), Linguist
Milko Kos (1892–1972), historian
Branko Marušič (b. 1942), historian
Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501–1577), Naturalist
Fulvio Melia (b. 1956), Astrophysicist
Carlo Michelstaedter (1887–1910), philosopher
Avgust Pirjevec (1887–1944), Literary historian and librarian
Carlo Rubbia (b. 1934), Physicist and Nobel laureate
Jožko Šavli (1943–2011), historian
Vladimir Truhlar (1912–1977), Poet and theologian
Matej Černič (1978), Volleyball player
Barbara Lah (b. 1972), Triple jumper
Armen Petrosyan (b. 1986), kickboxer
Giorgio Petrosyan (b. 1985), kickboxer
Gianmarco Pozzecco (b. 1972), Basketball player
Edoardo Reja (b. 1945), Football (soccer) coach and player
Sergio Susmel (b. 1923), Football player
Luca Tomasig (b. 1983), Football player
Francesco Vida (1903–1984), military officer and skier
Paolo Vidoz (b. 1970), Boxer
Elnardo Webster (b. 1969), American football player
Lojze Bratuž (1902–1937), Composer and Anti-fascist martyr
Lucy Christalnigg (1872–1914) Red Cross worker
Charles X of France (1757–1836), Last Bourbon king of France
Ferdo Delak (1905–1968), Slovene—Croatian stage director
Nora Gregor (1901–1949), actress
Sergej Mašera (1912–1941), Lieutenant of the Yugoslav Royal Navy and national hero of Yugoslavia
Arturo Reggio (1863–1917), Italian chess master
Edvard Rusjan (1886–1911), Aircraft constructor and pilot
Karl von Scherzer (1821–1903), Explorer and natural scientist
Gorizia is twinned with: