The city of Gorizia lies on the River Isonzo at the foot of the Julian Alps and has very ancient origins. It was the capital city of a province of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire and flourished until the outbreak of the First World War, which reduced it to rubble. It was conquered by Italian troops in August 1916, but it was not until 1947 that it finally became part of the Italian state, and then only the western part of the city. The eastern suburbs, the part now called Nova Gorizia, was ceded to Yugoslavia and today lies in Slovenia.

Surrounding Area from Center Gorizia

War correspondent E. Alexander Powell described Gorizia and the surrounding area:

At the northern end of the Carso, in an angle formed by the junction of the Wippach and the Isonzo, the snowy towers and red-brown roofs of Gorizia rise above the foliage of its famous gardens. The town, which resembles Homburg or Baden-Baden and was a popular Austrian resort before the war, lies in the valley of the Wippach (Vippacco) the Italians call it), which separates the Carso from the southernmost spurs of the Julian Alps. Down this valley runs the railway leading to Trieste, Laibach, and Vienna. It will be seen, therefore, that Gorizia is really the gateway to Trieste, and a place of immense strategic importance. On the slopes of the Carso, four or five miles fo the southwest of the town, rises the enormously strong position of Monte San Michele, and a few miles farther down the Isonzo, the fortified hill-town of Sagrado. On the other side of the river, almost opposite Gorizia, are the equally strong positions of Podgora and Monte Sabotino. Their steep slopes were slashed with Austrian trenches and abristle with guns which commanded the roads leading to the river, the bridge-heads, and the town. To take Gorizia until these positions had been captured was obviously out of the question. Here, as elsewhere, Austria held the upper ground. In a memorandum issued by the Austrian General Staff to its officers at the beginning of the operations before Gorizia, the tremendous advantage of the Austrian position was made quite clear: "We have to retain possession of a terrain fortified by Nature. In front of us a great watercourse; behind us a ridge from which we can shoot as from a ten-story building."

Gorizia Castle

The center of the old town is dominated by the castle, built sometime after 1000 AD by the Counts of Gorizia on the site of a prehistoric "Castelliere" and where later a Roman lookout tower was added. In Slovene "Gorica" means "small mountain" referring to the castle hill. The castle today hold a museum of history and art as well as a First World War Museum.

In 1500, Gorizia came into possession of the Hapsburg monarchy to whose fortunes and misfortunes it remained tied, except for a brief period of the Venetian domination and Napoleonic occupation, until the end of World War I when it became Italian.

During the Great War, Gorizia was a strategic objective of the Italian Army and was the object of many assaults before it was finally captured on August 8, 1916. The nearby Carso Plateau was the site of tens of thousands deaths for the Italian and Austro-Hungarian Armies. The city was abandoned by the Italians during the Battle of Caporetto and retaken late in 1918 at the time of the Armistice.

Italian Troops Enter the City

Military operations in the area are described in our article on the Eleven Battles of the Isonzo at:

Today Gorizia is an industrial, commercial, transport, and tourist center. Manufactures include textiles, leather goods, processed food, and machines.

Sources and Thanks: Details of Gorizia today were found at several Italian Tourism sites

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