"Zgorzelec" Zgorzelec by Kathrin_E

Zgorzelec Travel Guide: 32 reviews and 94 photos

Once a suburb of Görlitz, the quarters east of the river were cut off the city centre when Neiße river became the new border between Germany and Poland in 1945. New settlers from further east in Poland moved in during the following years, not necessarily because they wanted to. Zgorzelec became a separate city but did not develop much of an identity. Even after 50, 60 years many of its inhabitants do not feel at home here.

Zgorzelec is a residential and industrial town with large new Plattenbau quarters and only a few streets with pre-war architecture. It hardly has any 'centre'. Some pre-war buildings have already been restored but the general appearance is still rather greyish and dull as soon as you have left the riverfront.

With the opening of the borders after the revolutions of 1989, Poland's membership in the EU and the Schengen agreement that abolished border controls, a new era has begun. Suddenly the former border towns find themselves in the middle of Europe. The administrations of Görlitz and Zgorzelec are cooperating in many respects - remember their joint application for Cultural Capital 2010.

The disadvantages of a location on the border next to a state with better incomes and a stronger currency are also clearly visible. Certain businesses have settled near the border crossings that attract clients with Euros in their pockets: shops that sell cheap alcohol and cigarettes, and of course red light establishments - even in the pretty riverfront street with its preserved baroque houses.
But there are also some restaurants and beer gardens that look rather nice, have good beer (I got acquainted with those brands in Krakow), cheap food and a fine view. So far I have not stayed long enough in Zgorzelec to have a meal there.

The German army had destroyed the bridge across the Neiße at the end of World War II. The new pedestrian bridge between Zgorzelec and the old town of Görlitz has been opened in 2004. The bridge is a symbol.

Nowadays you simply walk or drive across the bridges without controls or anything, only the different language on signs shows you are in another country. People work and shop on both sides of the border. Being a child of the Cold War who grew up 30 kilometres from the Iron Fence, I am still amazed by this miraculous development.

  • Last visit to Zgorzelec: Dec 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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