Zwickau, city (1994 pop. 107,988), Saxony, E central Germany, on the Mulde River. It is an industrial city and until the late 1970s was the center of a coal mining region. Manufactures include machinery, textiles, and automobile parts. Zwickau was chartered in the early 13th cent., and it was a free imperial city from 1290 to 1323, when it passed to the margraves of Meissen. The city was (1520-23) the center of the Anabaptist movement of Thomas Münzer. It was repeatedly plundered during the Thirty Years War (1618-48). Noteworthy buildings include a basilica (12th-15th cent.), the Church of St. Catherine (14th cent.), and the city hall (15th cent.). Robert Schumann was born (1810) in Zwickau, and the city has a Schumann museum.

Zwickau (ˈtsvɪkaʊ̯, Cvikov) is a city in Germany, in the Bundesland Sachsen (Saxony), situated in a valley at the foot of the Erzgebirge, on the left bank of the Zwickauer Mulde, 130 km (82 miles) southwest of Dresden, south of Leipzig and south west of Chemnitz. Its population is slightly below 100,000. It is accessed by nearby autobahns, the A72 and A4 along with a train station.


Zwickau is bounded by Mülsen, Reinsdorf, Wilkau-Haßlau, Hirschfeld (Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Kirchberg), Lichtentanne, Werdau, Neukirchen, Crimmitschau, Dennheritz (Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Crimmitschau) and the city of Glauchau.



Among the nine churches, the fine Gothic church of St Mary (1451-1536 and restored 1885–1891), with a spire 285 ft. high and a bell weighing 51 tons, is remarkable. The church contains an altar with wood-carving and eight pictures by Michael Wohlgemuth and a remarkable pietà in carved and painted wood, by Peter Breuer Marienkirche: The late Gothic church of St. Catharine Kathrinenkirche: , (restored 1893–94) has an altarpiece ascribed to Lucas Cranach the elder, and is memorable for the pastorate (1520–22) of Thomas Müntzer. Of the secular buildings the most noteworthy are the town-hall of 1581, with the municipal archives, including documents dating back to the 13th century and an autograph MS. of the works of Hans Sachs, and the late Gothic Gewandhaus (cloth merchants' hall), built 1522-24 and now in part converted into a theatre.

The history of the Horch automobile factory is presented at the August Horch Museum, an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage.

Zwickau is also the birthplace of Robert Schumann and there is a museum dedicated to him.


The manufactures of Zwickau include spinning and weaving, machinery, automobiles (notably Horch and Audi before WW II and the Trabant), chemicals, porcelain, paper, glass, dyestuffs, wire goods, tinware, stockings, and curtains. There are also steam saw-mills, diamond and glass polishing works, iron-foundries, and breweries. Though no longer relatively so important as when it lay on the chief trade route from Saxony to Bohemia and the Danube, Zwickau carries on considerable commerce in grain, linen, and coal. The mainstay of the industrial prosperity of the town is the adjacent coalfield, which in 1908 employed 13,000 hands, and yielded millions of tons of coal annually. The mines are mentioned as early as 1348; but they have only been actively worked since 1823, during which time the population of Zwickau has increased more than tenfold.


Zwickau is home of the West Saxon University of Applied Sciences with about 4700 students and two campuses in the area of Zwickau.



One time DDR-Oberliga champions, football team FSV Zwickau today play in the fourt Oberliga in the South of East Germany.


The region around Zwickau was settled by Slavs as early as the 7th century. In the 10th century, German settlers began arriving and the native Slavs were Christianized. A trading place known as 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 granted to the margraves of Meissen afterward. Although regional mining began in 1316, extensive mining increased with the discovery of silver in the Schneeberg in 1470.

The Anabaptist movement of 1525 began at Zwickau under the inspiration of the "Zwickau prophets". Confessional warfare plundered the city during the Thirty Years' War.

The composer Robert Schumann was born in Zwickau in 1810 in a house which still stands in the marketplace.

During the Second World War, the government operated a Nazi concentration camp in Zwickau, liberated by the Allies in 1945. After liberation by the Americans, the town was placed under Soviet control.

From 1949-1990 Zwickau belonged to East Germany and was a center for the mining of coal and the manufacture of Trabant automobiles.

As of November 2004, Ampelmännchen traffic signals have achieved gender equality; in Zwickau the first traffic light lady, or Ampelfrau, was created.


Historical population

Year Population
1462 ca. 3,900
1530 ca. 7,677
1640 2,693
1723 3,753
1800 4,189
1840 9,740
1861 20,492
1871 27,322
December 1, 1875 ¹ 31,491
December 1, 1890 ¹ 44,198
December 1, 1900 ¹ 55,825
December 1, 1905 ¹ 68,502
December 1, 1910 ¹ 73,542
June 16, 1925 ¹ 80,358
June 16, 1933 ¹ 84,701
May 17, 1939 ¹ 85,198
October 29, 1946 122,862
August 31, 1950 138,844
December 1, 1960 129,138
December 31, 1972 124,796
June 30, 1981 121,800
1986 120,900
June 30, 1997 102,100
December 31, 2002 100,892
June 30, 2006 97,232
¹ Census data

Historical mayors of Zwickau



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