The first permanent settlement in the district as it appears today developed during the Bronze Age, but some findings show that there was already a Neolithic settlement prior to this. After brief Germanic colonisation during the 2nd/3rd Century, Slavic tribes began to settle. The Gau Milzane was founded around Bautzen, the Gau Besunzane around the Landeskrone and the Gau Zagost on the south of the Neiße. Today’s Sorbian population originates from these core regions.

In the 10th Century, today’s Upper Lusatia was subjected to armies of German knights. In 1076, the area fell under Bohemian control, subsequently Brandenburg control and later Bohemian control once again. In the 11th and 12nd Centuries, Franconian and Thuringian settlers populated the area. They usually lived peacefully in close proximity with the Slavs, which is still apparent when looking at the modern place names.

Similarly to Hanse, the towns of Bautzen, Görlitz, Kamenz, Lauban, Löbau (convent town) and Zittau formed the Oberlausitzer Sechsstädtebund [an association of the six towns in Upper Lusatia] in 1346. This protective alliance, which was accepted by Emperor Karl IV, brought an economic boom and political prestige to Upper Lusatia. This town alliance lasted until 1815 and was once again founded in June 1991.

As a result of the Peace of Prague, Upper Lusatia, which had belonged to Bohemia up to this point, was passed to the Elector of Saxony. Due to the counter-reformation, a great number of exiles came into the land. Among these were Protestant religious refugees from Bohemia and Moravia who came to the estate of Count Nikolaus Ludwig Reichsgraf von Zinzendorf in Berthelsdorf in the 18th century. In 1722, he founded Herrnhut where the Herrnhuter Brüdergemeinde [religious community] came into being and sent missionaries to many countries of the world. The Herrnhuter Brüdergemeinde still exists today.

Particularly drastic was the division of Upper Lusatia into Prussian and Saxon parts due to the Napoleonic wars after the Congress of Vienna in 1815. One part of the land was allocated to Prussian and one to Silesian administration and its Liegnitz regional council (Lower Silesia). This still influences Görlitz to this day. Only under the national socialist regime were the Saxon and Prussian assemblies of the estates of Upper Lusatia liquidated. 

As a result of growing industry in the 19th and 20th Centuries, southern Upper Lusatia was soon one of the most densely populated areas in Saxony. Trade and commerce across the borders up to Bohemia flourished.
A sudden change brought the end of the Second World War. The area of the administrative district of Zittau, south of the Neiße River and previously belonging to Saxony, came under Polish administration after the Potsdam Agreement.  The same applied to the areas of the former Prussian Upper Lusatia to the north. The Neiße River became a border river. The former German inhabitants had to leave their homeland and often stayed with their relatives in this region. Displaced persons from Eastern Poland were settled in the areas beyond the Neiße and in Zgorzelec there were also later Greek refugees.

After the Second World War, Soviet occupiers assigned the Upper Lusatia areas that previously belonged to Prussia west of the Neiße to the “State of Saxony”. In 1952, Saxony was dissolved, along with all other federal states in the GDR, and divided into districts. The current administrative district of Görlitz together with the districts of Zittau, Löbau, Görlitz, Niesky and the independent town of Görlitz belonged to the district of Dresden, Weißwasser belonged to the district of Cottbus.

Only with German unity on 3rd October 1990, the historically grown unity of Upper Lusatia was re-established in the Free State of Saxony. After a citizen survey and a resolution by the district council, the district of Weißwasser opted for Saxony in 1990. The districts of Zittau and Löbau as well as parts of the former district of Görlitz-Land became one administrative district of Löbau-Zittau after a district reform in Saxony in 1994. The districts of Weißwasser and Niesky as well as parts of the former district of Görlitz-Land became the Niederschlesischer Oberlausitzkreis [Lower Silesian Upper Lusatia district]. After another district reform, these, together with the independent town of Görlitz, formed one administrative district of Görlitz in August 2008. 

Görlitz Administrative District Office/ Landratsamt Görlitz
Bahnhofstraße 24
02826 Görlitz
Postal address
Görlitz Administrative District Office/ Landratsamt Görlitz
(name of the office)
PF 30 01 52
02806 Görlitz

Office hours

Overview of the locations and offices for district administration