Żary ( ) is a town in
western Poland with 39,900
inhabitants (2006). Situated in the Lubusz Voivodeship (since 1999), previously in Zielona Góra Voivodeship
(1975-1998). Żary is located in the borderland between the
Silesian Lowland and the Wielkopolska Lowland, outlined by two
tributaries of the Oder River, Bóbr and Nysa
The city is one of the biggest economic and
tourist centers in the south of the Lubuski
Żary, which is a county seat, features headquarters of many offices
and institutions, used by residents of this part of the region,
including the Tax Office, Social Insurance Institution, Employment
Office, 8 bank branches, insurance companies, high schools, and the
Lusatian Higher School of the Humanities.Żary's border area
location has a significant influence on its economic growth.
proximity of the city (20–40 km) there are Polish-German
border crossings in Olszyna, Łęknica, Przewóz, and Zasieki as well as a
railroad checkpoint in Forst.
also an attractive tourist destination. The city, which history
dates back almost 1000 years, features many precious historic
sites. Prior to 1945, the city was predominantly German and known
Żary is the biggest city in the Polish part of Lusatia, stretching
from Bogatynia to Gubin, fully deserving the title of the capital
of Polish Lusatia
The beginnings of settlement in the Żary area date back to
prehistoric times. The name “Zara” (deriving most likely from a
small, independent Slav tribe) appeared for the first time in 1007
in Thietmar’s chronicle.At that time, during the reign of Boleslaus the Brave, the Żary land along
with Lusatia was incorporated into Poland.
city was chartered on the Magdeburg law ca. 1260. It covered the
following three areas: a trade settlement on the “Salt Trail”
running from Leipzig to Wrocław, a fortified town erected among
bogs (in the area of the later castle), and a Franciscan settlement
established in 1274.
The city was under the domain of Silesian Piasts
until 1364, Bohemian
kings until 1635, Saxon
electors until 1815, and sovereigns of Prussia
until the German states were united into a
single German state in 1871. As Sorau, prominent families included
the Dewins, Packs, Bibersteins and Promnitzs, whose residence was
the castle-palace complex.
troops entered Sorau in February
1945. At the Potsdam Conference
British and American representatives were initially unwilling to
agree to Polish administration being extended as far west as Stalin
desired. After some negotiations, both the Soviet and Polish
representatives indicated that they would be willing to concede a
frontier along the Nysa-Odra-Bóbr-Kwisa rivers, which would have
left Sorau German. This small concession ultimately proved
unnecessary, however, since the next day at Potsdam the US
Secretary of State told the Soviet Foreign Minister the US would
agree to today's Western Niesse frontier (US Dept of State, Foreign
Relations of the US, The Conference of Berlin (Potsdam) 1945, vol.
II p. 480). The city was then renamed Żary and populated by
For several centuries Sorau was a center of a “free state”. Its
residents grew wealthy through trade and craftsmanship. As early as
the 14th century the city featured guilds of clothiers, dry-goods
merchants, brewers, cobblers, and dyers. During the 19th century
Sorau had become a powerful industrial center. The local textile
factories, employing 50% of all area people working in industry,
played a particular role in the city's economy.
During World War II
a branch of the
aircraft factory was moved to
Sorau. In April 1944, after a bombing raid of the Allies, some
buildings of the Old Town were reduced to a heap of rubble.
Transport and communication
Two main roads, no. 12 and 27 intersect in Żary. They run together
on a stretch of the city bypass. Two of the three sections of the
city bypass that have been opened have significantly improved the
traffic in the city. Construction of the bypass was subsidized by
Fund. Presently, work continues on
the last section of the bypass, which will be completed in
In the proximity of the city we can find the international road
E-36 (Berlin-Silesia-Kraków), which soon will be transformed into
the A-18 highway. On this road, near the border with Germany,
25 km from Żary, in nearby Olszyna there is one of the biggest
cargo terminals in the country. Construction of the A18 and A4
highways is underway and should be completed by the end of 2007.
This highway on the German side is known as the A-15 highway,
providing a quick access to Berlin via a network of motorways. The
international airports in Berlin are about 160÷185 km away,
about a one-and-a-half-hour drive away.
trains travel from Berlin and Hamburg via Żary to
relatively short distance from Żary there is an airport in Babimost
Góra, and in Rothenburg (about 15 km from the
border crossing in Przewóz).
In Żary there are two telecommunication companies, having a great
effect on the quality of provided service. The city has also good
coverage of wireless service providers. It also has a fiber optic
network that offers quick Internet
Roman Catholic Church under the
invocation of the Holiest Heart of Jesus
Despite significant war damages, many interesting architectural
historic sites have been preserved in Żary, including its medieval
municipal urban arrangement.
- In the northwest part of the city there is the Dewins-Packs-Bibersteins'
Castle, a huge, 13th century structure, reconstructed later in
the Renaissance style. It neighbors on
the Baroque Promnitzs'
Palace, which was designed by Italian architect Giovanni
Simonetti. Both residences, purchased by a private investor,
continue to wait for renovation. They are surrounded by the remains
of an old geometrical park, with a garden palace and the Blue Gate dating from 1708.
- The Gothic Sacred Heart Church towers above the Old Town. The
church, which obtained its principal shape in the 15th century,
remembers the times when the city was chartered; fragments of the
wall in the northern wing date from the 13th century. The Baroque Promnitz Chapel near the
eastern wall was added in 1670-1672. In the vicinity of the church
we can find a Gothic rectory and a Gothic-Renaissance building of
the old commissariat. Today it houses the city archive.
- The garrison Church under the
invocation of the Elevation of the Holy Cross build in the turn of
14th/15th centuries; originally the church of Grey Friars
- Church under the invocation of St. Peter and Paul (13th
century) located in the former cemetery
- One of the main treasures of the Market Square is the newly
renovated Town Hall dating from the turn of the 14th century,
featuring a beautiful Renaissance portal. There are also tenement
houses that surround the Market Square and some at Bolesława
Chrobrego Street, which is a major commercial thoroughfare of the
city. The oldest buildings date from the 17th century.
- The remains of the medieval fortifications of the city are
fragments of walls, two defense towers (the taller one of 14th/15th
centuries, with ashlars made from meadow ore, has become a
“landmark” of Żary), and a stone belfry
from the turn of the 14th century.
- One of the tourist and natural attractions of the area is the
“Green Forest” located near the southern border of the city,
featuring the highest altitude in the Lubuski Region (227 m above
The Żary calendar of events includes many cultural festivals: in
April the International Music Festival “Eurosilesia
”, in the beginning of June the city
celebrates with pomp the Festival
, in August there is the International Plein-air
Painting and Sculpture Event, the International Festival of Street
Theaters, in October the Vienna
, and in December the Telemann Youth Festival.
For six years rock music concerts called “Woodstock Stop Festival”
have been organized in Żary.
Żary invites to its new complex of indoor swimming pools called
“Wodnik”, featuring state-of-the-art fitness equipment. Other
places in the city that offer pleasant atmosphere during meetings
include myriad restaurants, cafes, and pubs. On the first Saturday
of every month a flea market is held in the pedestrian precinct in
Żary and the Exhibition Salon
located in the Żary pedestrian precinct near the Town Hall.
Thanks to an annual growth of revenues from local taxes and quick
privatization of the municipal property, the community was able to
finance several large-scale investment projects. The city has a
sewage treatment plant with throughput of 15,000 cu. m per day, and
a municipal landfill that meets the requirements of European
standards. In 1998 a new water treatment plant was opened. Work
continues on expansion of gas grid, heat distribution system, and
In 2000 a large section of the bypass and a complex of indoor
swimming pools were opened. Modernization of local roads is
underway. In 2005 the last section of the bypass will be opened.
Preparations continue on revitalization of the Old Town of Żary.
The pavement of the market square will be soon renovated. The
projects of development of the town's pedestrian zone, park and the
former military area.
The communication arrangement of the town is being modernized and
expenses are being appropriated for the educational infrastructure.
The construction of the sports and show room is underway and junior
high schools and primary schools are being redecorated. The
community has benefited significantly from the funds of the
European Union such as Phare CBC and Interreg.
The municipal authorities are open to cooperation with foreign
partners, not only as regards economic contacts, but also cultural
and sports exchange as well as joint ventures in various fields. A
good example of good neighborly relations is a longtime cooperation
with the German city of Weißwasser, as well as incorporation of
Żary to the Spree-Nysa-Bóbr Euroregion – a voluntary association of
townships on both sides of the border.In 2004 the cooperation with
the French city of Longuyon was sealed by a partnership agreement.
The city also develops relations with the borderland towns of Forst
and Sprembreg. In 2003 the 1st Level State Music School of Żary
signed a cooperation agreement with a conservatory from Magdeburg.
These are the only music schools named after composer G.P.
The list of people who were born in or lived in Żary/Sorau:
There is one institution of higher education based in Żary:
Professional sports teams in Żary:
Twin towns — Sister cities
Żary is twinned
File:Palac Zary 2.jpg|Promnitzs' PalaceFile:Zary walls.JPG|Cicha
Street - city walls and defence towerFile:Zary uliczka.JPG|Buczka
StreetFile:Zary pano.jpg|Stone belfryFile:Widok miasto
zary.jpg|View of town from train stationFile:Zary wall.JPG|The
remains of the medieval wallsFile:POL-Żary-Kamienica przy ulicy
Żagańskiej.JPG| Historic tenementFile:Zary zary.jpg|Okrzei
CastleFile:Zatorze Żary kamienice.jpg|Zatorze district
- "The word "Zara" (which probably referred to a small
independent Slavonic tribe) appeared for the first time in Thietmar's Chronicle from 1007""