94,029 (Dec 31, 2009)
West Saxon University of Applied Sciences of Zwickau
Pia Findeiss (SPD)
Zwickau ( Sorbian: Swikawa, Czech Cvikov) in Germany, belongs to an industrial and economical core region. Nowadays it is the capital city of the district of Zwickau. The city is situated in a valley at the foot of the Erzgebirge mountains and is also part of what is called the Saxon triangle metropolitan area, an economic network which includes Leipzig-Halle, Dresden and Chemnitz. The city has slightly fewer than 100,000 inhabitants, but has a regional catchment area of over 480,000 people. From 1834 until 1952 Zwickau was the former seat of the government of the south-western region of Saxony.
Zwickau, known as the city of automobiles, is the centre of the Saxon automotive industry, with a tradition over one hundred years old. Well known beyond Germanys borders are car makers such as Horch, Audi, Auto Union (silver arrows Type A, B, C, D), Trabant and Volkswagen. Since 2000 its history has been presented in the August-Horch Museum, inside the former Audi Works.
The West Saxon University of Applied Sciences of Zwickau (Westsachsische Hochschule Zwickau) is an important centre for educating and training automotive engineers. The Romantic composer Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau.
The valley of the 166 kilometres (103 miles) long Zwickauer Mulde river stretches from the Vogtland to Colditz Castle at the other end. The Silver Road, Saxonys longest tourist route, connects Dresden with Zwickau. The German ADAC City Guide recently wrote: "The town of Zwickau has transformed itself over the years from a traditional mining town into an elegant Art-Nouveau town, which is well worth discovering."
The city can be reached easily by car via the nearby Autobahns A4 and A72. The city has a main railway station (Zwickau Hbf) and is also reachable via a public airfield which takes light aircraft.
In 2011, the city was associated by some newspapers with the so-called "Zwickau cell", a neo-Nazi terrorist group from Thuringia responsible for several murders and bank robberies.
The city of Zwickau has a history stretching back almost 900 years. As early as the 14th century there was domestic hard-coal processing. Because of the silver ore deposits in the Erzgebirge, Zwickau developed in the 15th and 16th centuries and grew to be an important economic and cultural centre of Saxony.
After Wittenberg, it became the first city in Europe to join the Lutheran Reformation. In the 19th century the citys economy was driven by industrial hard-coal mining. The old city of Zwickau, perched on a hill, is surrounded by heights with extensive forests and a scenic municipal park. Its surroundings offer many opportunities for excursions - to the Hartenstein area, for example, with its castle "Stein", and the "Prinzenhohle", with its castle "Wolfsbrunn" (nowadays a luxury 5-star Hotel), as well as the Auersberg (1019 meters) with the popular winter sport region of Johanngeorgenstadt and the Vogtland.
In the Old Town the Cathedral and the Gewandhaus (historic cloth merchants hall) recall the flourishing ecclesiastical, trade and artistic life of the 16th century, which was based on Schneeberg silver. Zwickau was the main site of the Saxon coal miners, and at the same time one of the most important industrial towns of the country. It is also the cradle of the Saxon automobile industry.
When the noise of the shops subsides, one can hear the music of Robert Schumann (1810–1856), which is a special cultural event of art and history for all visitors to the city.
The German actor Gert Frobe, well known as the antagonist in the James Bond film "Goldfinger", was born in Zwickau.
On April 17, 1945, the Second World War ended for Zwickau when the city was occupied by the US Army. After the withdrawal of the US Army on June 30, 1945 Zwickau was occupied by the Soviet Red Army. Between 1944 and 2003, the city had a population of more than 100,000 inhabitants.
Today, the most important employer in the region is Volkswagen-Saxony Ltd. which assembles its Golf, Passat and Phaeton models in the Zwickau-Mosel vehicle plant.
Audi-AG together with the city of Zwickau operates the August Horch Museum in the former Audi works.
The region around Zwickau was settled by Slavs as early as the 7th century. The name Zwickau is probably a Germanisation of the Sorbian toponym Swikawa, which derives from Svarozic, the Slavic Sun and fire god. In the 10th century, German settlers began arriving and the native Slavs were Christianized. A trading place known as terretorio Zcwickaw was mentioned in 1118. The settlement received a town charter in 1212 and hosted Franciscans and Cistercians during the 13th century. Zwickau was a free imperial city from 1290–1323, but was subsequently granted to the margraves of Meissen. Although regional mining began in 1316, extensive mining increased with the discovery of silver in the Schneeberg in 1470.
Among the nine churches, the fine Gothic church of St. Mary (1451–1536), with a spire 285 ft. high and a bell weighing 51 tons, stands out. The church contains an altar with wood-carving, eight paintings by Michael Wohlgemuth and a remarkable pieta in carved and painted wood by Peter Breuer.
The late Gothic church of St. Catharine has an altar piece ascribed to Lucas Cranach the elder, and is remembered because Thomas Muntzer was once pastor there (1520–22). Of the secular buildings the most noteworthy are the town hall, begun in 1404 and rebuilt many times since then. The municipal archives include documents dating back to the 13th century.
The carefully preserved treasures of art and literature (early printed books from the Middle Ages), documents, letters and books are kept in the Town Archives (e.g. Hans Sachs (*1494 - 1576): Meister Singer volumes), and in the School Library founded by scholars and by the town clerk Stephan Roth during the Reformation.
In 1520 Martin Luther dedicated his treatise "On the Freedom of the Christian Man" to his friend Hermann Muehlpfort, the Lord Mayor of Zwickau. The Anabaptist movement of 1525 began at Zwickau under the inspiration of the "Zwickau prophets". The late Gothic Gewandhaus (cloth merchants hall), was built in 1522-24 and is now converted into a theatre. Confessional warfare devastated the city during the Thirty Years War.
In 1810, on June 8, the pianist and composer Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau.
Hard-coal mining is mentioned as early as 1348. However, mining on an industrial scale first started in the early 19th century. The hard-coal mines of Zwickau, and the neighbouring Oelsnitz-Lugau coalfield contributed significantly to the industrialisation of the region and the town.
For a long period of its history, the Zwickau area was the centre of hard-coal mining. In 1885 Carl Wolf invented an improved gas-detecting safety mining-lamp. He held the first world patent for it. Together with his business partner Friemann he founded the "Friemann & Wolf" factory. The plant was one of the first Germany global players in the 19th century. Coal mining was abandoned for economical reasons in 1978 after about 230 millions tonnes had been mined from the Carboniferous deposit to depths of over 1,000 metres. However, Zwickau remained a mining-related town until 1992 when the last coke oven plant operating in the town was closed. The closure of the plant marked the historical end of 700 years of hard-coal industry in Saxony.
Many industrial branches developed in the town in the wake of the hard-coal mining industry: mining equipment, iron and steel works, textile, machinery in addition to chemical, porcelain, paper, glass, dyestuffs, wire goods, tinware, stockings, and curtains. There were also steam saw-mills, diamond and glass polishing works, iron-foundries, and breweries.
The production of the Trabant was discontinued after German reunification, but Volkswagen built a new factory, and Sachsenring is now a supplier for the automobile industry. Nowadays the headquarters of the Volkswagen-Saxony Ltd. (a VW subsidiary) is in the northern part of Zwickau.
In the town centre there are three museums: an art museum from the 19th century and the houses of priests from 13th century, both located next to St. Marys church. Just around the corner there is the Robert-Schumann museum. The museums offer different collections dedicated to the history of the town, as well as art and a mineralogical, palaeontological and geological collection with many specimens from the town and the nearby Erzgebirge Mts. and the music of the romantic school.
Zwickau is also the birthplace of Robert Schumann. The house where he was born in 1810 still stands in the marketplace. This is now called Robert-Schumann-House and is a museum dedicated to him.