View on Złotoryja from Wilcza Góra
Capital of Polish Gold
|Gmina||Złotoryja (urban gmina)|
|- Mayor||Ireneusz Żurawski|
|- Total||11.51 km2 (4.4 sq mi)|
|- Density||1,433.8/km2 (3,713.5/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|- Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||59-500 to 59-501|
|Area code(s)||+48 76|
Złotoryja [zwɔtɔˈrɨja] (German: Goldberg, Latin: Aureus Mons, Aurum) is a town in Lower Silesian Voivodeship, southwestern Poland. It is located in the Kaczawa river valley, close to Legnica. It is the seat of Złotoryja County, and of the smaller district of Gmina Złotoryja (although it is not part of the territory of the latter, since the town is a gmina in its own right).
During its long existence Złotoryja was referred to by various names. Since the Middle Ages it was referred to as either Aurum (Latin: Gold), Aureus Mons (Golden Mountain) or Goldberg (German: Golden Mountain), the official name until 1945. After 1945 as the former German town was captured by the Russian Red Army and committed to Poland the name was changed to Polish Złotoryja, which also includes the Polish root złoto meaning gold.
The Coat of Arms features a black Silesian eagle of the Piast dynasty standing over three green hills, with the golden background. Its heraldic blazon is "Or, an eagle displayed sable on a base three-invected vert". It has been used since the 15th century.
The Flag features both of the heraldic colours of the Coat of Arms. It consists of two stripes: golden (yellow) above green.
In late 12th century and early 13th century a small settlement of gold miners was founded on the slopes of Mount St. Nicholas (Góra św. Mikołaja), at the shores of the Katzbach (cats creek), Kaczawa river. The village grew rapidly and in 1211 it was named Aurum (Latin for gold) and located on the Magdeburg law by Henry I the Bearded as the first city of Silesia. It was attached to the Duchy of Legnica. The local golden ore deposits were rich and the town attracted both miners and gold washers from all the nearby areas. In the 13th century a Hospitaller and Franciscan monasteries were founded in the town, which thus became one of the important cultural and religious centres of the region. In 1241 many of the miners took part in the Battle of Legnica, where most of them died, but the mining quickly recovered. In 1290 the town was granted with a privilege to trade salt, one of the most expensive and valuable minerals in the Middle Ages.
In 1328 the whole Duchy of Legnica became a fief of inperial Bohemia, yet it retained its local self-government. During the Hussite Wars the town was captured by the Hussite forces in 1427, 1428 and 1431. It was severely pillaged, but it quickly recovered and the local city council decided to build city walls in order to spare the city such troubles in the future. Much of the mediaeval fortifications is preserved until today.
Although by early 15th century most of the gold deposits were depleted, the town started to gain significant income from the nearby road linking Breslau (Wrocław) with Leipzig. A brewery and several weavers shops were opened soon afterwards. In 1504 a school was opened by Aurimontanus. 1600s century maps show Silberberg in the Duchy of Monsterberg, Silesia, in Germany. In 1522 the first Protestant priests arrived in Silberberg (Złotoryja) and soon afterwards the school was turned into a Latin, humanistic gymnasium, the first in Silesia. One of its rectors, Valentin Trozendorf, wanted to turn it into a university and these plans were approved by prince Friedrich II of Legnica, but the prince died soon afterwards and the town was struck by a severe fire in 1554, which made the plans obsolete.
In 1526 the town together with the rest of Silesia was annexed by the Habsburgs. Goldberg continued to prosper until 1608, when the prosperity was stopped by a major flood that killed approx. 50 of the inhabitants and damaged large part of the city. Five years later, in 1613 the town yet again was struck by great fire that destroyed 571 houses.
During the Thirty Years' War Goldberg changed hands several times and suffered especially in 1633, when Albrecht von Wallenstein, a former pupil of the gymnasium, beleaguered the city. After that Goldberg needed almost 100 years to recover. In 1742 it was annexed by Prussia and in 1871 became part of the newly-formed German Empire. During the Napoleonic Wars, on August 26, 1813, the armies of French marshal Macdonald was defeated near the town by the forces of Prussian general von Blücher.
At the end of 19th century the town started to recover after almost 200 years of crisis. In 1862 the town of Silberberg was connected with Berlin by a telegraph. In 1884 the town was connected to Liegnitz (Legnica) by a rail road and by 1906 two additional lines were opened: to Świerzawa and Chojnów. In 1900 the first telephone line was started. At the same time various companies tried to recover the gold mining in and around the city, but the plans were soon abandoned. Instead the copper ore mines were opened, but they faced serious financial difficulties by the end of 1920s. During the 1933 Reichstag elections 25% of the inhabitants backed the NSDAP.
The town survived the World War II almost untouched. In 1945 it was captured by the forces of the Red Army 2nd Ukrainian Front under Ivan Konev. Following the decisions of the Potsdam conference it was transferred to Poland and renamed by Polishs to Złotoryja. By 1949 most of local German inhabitants either fled or were expelled with their whole families and had to leave all their possession behind, forced by the military occupying power Russia and Poland. A large number of them were admeasured to refugee camps and settled later, mostly in the federal state Northrhine-Westphalia,Germany.
In the nearby villages of Wilków and Nowy Kościół two important copper mines were founded and a large number of local engineers also participated in the development of the industrial region of Legnica. However, in early 1970s the mines were closed down due to the fact that ore deposits of much higher quality were found around Lubin.
Many factories were founded, including a shoe factory, Christmas tree ornaments factory and a basalt mine. Since 1989 the town of Złotoryja started to look for its past. The historical old town was restored and the traditions of gold mining were started. In 1992 a local Polish Guild of Gold Prospectors was started, which ever since organises the Polish Gold Panning Championships. In 2000 World Championships were held there.
Currently the town is one of the main tourist centres of the area. The heavy industry is also playing an important part in the development of the area. The local quarries are ones of the most profitable in Poland and the Christmas tree ornaments factory is exporting millions of ornaments every year, mostly to Western Europe and the United States.
Złotoryja is twinned with: