The "New World" was built in 1903 as a concert hall and ballroom. The architecture is a mix of neo-baroque and art nouveau. The white facade looks already promising, the interior shows the full splendor at the end of the belle epoque.
The interior can only be enjoyed during events, though. If you are spending enough time in Zwickau, check what's on. Zwickau's event page "Kultour Z." also lists the events in Neue Welt.
Location: Laipziger Straße
How to get there: Tram 4 or 7 to "Neue Welt"
Like all those industrial cities Zwickau grew a lot during the decades around 1900. First it was historism but then art nouveau became the style of fashion. A large quarter North of the city centre was covered with townhouses and villas during that era before World War I.
Since the reunification a lot of renovation work has been completed. Most of these houses are in excellent shape now. There are some gaps in between due to World War II air raids and neglect during the socialist era, but all in all the quarter is well preserved and worth a closer look.
How to get there: Tram 4 or 7 to "Kurt-Eisner-Straße".
My photos were taken in Kurt-Eisner-Straße on the way from the tram stop to Horch-Museum and back, which takes you right through the art nouveau quarter. These two attractions can easily be combined.
More photos in my travelogues.
August Horch's villa next to the old factory grounds is easily missed, that's why I gave it a separate tip. The villa is part of Horch-Museum (see previous tip) and included in your museum ticket. The entrance is from the street but the door is firmly locked.
If you want to see the interior of the villa, notify the cash desk at the museum entrance. They call a guard with the key who will let you in and show you round.
In those times factory owners lived next to their factories. Thinking of noise, smoke and smells, one wonders why, but in the era of industrialization this was common. Horch had his family home built in a corner of the factory grounds. The villa has been restored and furnitured in the style of the 1920s to give an idea how the Horch family lived.
For more than 100 years cars have been built in Zwickau. The city's automobile history begins in 1904 when the engineer August Horch opened his factory. Horch automobiles were successful on the young market. However, the owner and founder of the factory soon got in trouble with the management and had to leave his own company. He wanted to start a new business but authorities did not allow him to use the same name again. There is the anecdote how he visited a friend and told him about his problem, and the friend's young son, who was doing his Latin schoolwork in the same room, suggested translating the name - Horch ("Listen") became Audi.
In 1932 four car companies in Zwickau, Chemnitz and Zschopau united to Auto-Union and produced under that brand name until World War II.
Audi cars are still around on Germany's roads and elsewhere in the world. After the war Audi headquarters settled in the West, though. Ingolstadt became the seat of the new factory (which has in the meantime been taken over by VW). Under Socialist rule the factories in Zwickau produced the DDR's most popular car, the Trabant. In 1991 the production of the Trabant ended. VW is now building cars in the factory in Zwickau-Mosel.
This continuous history over a century is presented in the Horch-Museum. It occupies the original buildings of Horch's Audi factory (as far as they survived the war) and Horch's villa next door with some modern additions.
What I liked best about the museum: It is not only about cars and their technical details. The exhibition shows the cars in the historical context of their respective era. Presentations include, for example, street scenes, a petrol station, a glamorous 1920s hotel entrance, an old general store, machines from the factory, race courses, war ruins and scenes from life in the DDR. Horch's office in the contor wing can be visited (ask the guard to let you in) to see where the boss and his secretary worked.
Villa Horch is also part of the museum (see separate tip).
Virtual tour of the museum
More photos are in my travelogues.
Opening hours: Tues-Sun 9.30-17.00, first Thursday of the month until 21.00
Entrance fees: adults 5 €, kids and concessions 3.50 €, photo permit 2.50 € (prices of September 2011)
Address: Audistraße 7 (Map on the museum website)
How to get there: Tram 4 or 7 to "Kurt-Eisner-Straße", follow Kurt-Eisner-Straße through the art nouveau quarter, then turn right into Audistraße. The way is signposted.
The house named Schiffchen (little ship) is the oldest and prettiest building in Kornmarkt square. It was built on a street corner with a pointed angle, hence the shape which resembles, with some imagination, to a ship's bow. The youse dates from 1485 and belonged to a wealtrhy solocitor.
The house sign is a stone relief depicting a gilded anchor. now there is the "hen and egg" question: Was the house named because of this sign, or was the sign attached because of the name...? I am voting for the latter, because I assume the name derives from the house's shape and appearance.
The fountain in the middle of Kornmarkt is a recent addition, it recalls the former function of the square: It served as grain market. The granite sculptures show an abstract mill wheel, or rather just one quarter of the wheel, and some grain sacks. (The wombat in photo 5 was a temporary addition by yours truly.)
Location: Kornmarkt is one block South of Dom and Hauptmarkt.
During my first visit the town hall was invisible behind scaffolding. Now the renovation works are finished, and the facade is all shiny.
The town hall of Zwickau was built in 1404 after a fire destroyed its precedessor together with most of the town. The facade towards Hauptmarkt, however, does not look medieval at all, and it isn't. The town hall received a new, neogothic facade in the 1860s.
The front gable bears the full coat of arms of the city with the swans and the town gate, crowned by two helmets and accompanied by swans as shield holders.
The so-called "Dom" is not a cathedral but the main parish church of the city. A church in cathedral dimensions, though.
The impressive baroque spire was designed in the 17th century after the model of Katharinenkirche in Hamburg.
Zwickau's Dom is one of those late gothic churches Saxony is famous for. It has the typical "hall church" scheme with three naves of equal height, covered with star and net vaults, that form a spacious hall.
Interior and facades have been repaired and re-medievalized in the 19th century, thus are partly neo-gothic historism.
The interior contains some valuable pieces of church art:
# the main altar, pre-reformation and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, created by the artist Michael Wohlgemut in Nürnberg in 1479. It has two pairs of mobile wings, so the shrine can be changed according to the holidays during the church year.
# the pulpit, dated 1538, represents Lutheran theology: evangelists and apostles are shown on the railings, other figures and quotations in German refer to the Bible. Some of the paintings have been reneved after the Mulde flood of 1954 which caused damage in the church.
# the baptismal chapel in the southern side nave
# the wooden Holy Sepulchre of 1507 is on the gallery in the northern transept and usually not accessible
# also pre-Reformation: the Pietà in a chapel off the northern side nave
# the burial chapel of the noble family von Bose off the southern side nave. Their black and white family crest also shows up on other epitaphs in the church.
# the spiral staircase in the northern trasept is a masterpiece of stonemasonry. It actually consists of two spiral staircases winding around each other without touching.
Footnote: Visitors are requested to pay a small entrance fee. The church is open daily, 10:00-18:00, except during services, concerts and other events.
The Baroque Schloss Planitz was built under Johann Georg von Arnim about 1719 after the previous building had been destroyed by the Swedish troops in 1640 (30years war). The Arnim family owned it until 1923 when the town administration of Zwickau bought it.
The four-wing structure has a beautiful, quite ornate facade with sculptured coats-of-arms above the portals, pilasters etc. Inside fine stucco works are preserved as well as a festive main hall - nowadays the Schloss is used as High School, thus not accessible inside for visitors.
However, the reason to visit is the whole ensemble with the church that is connected to the Schloss, the beautifully landscaped cemetery, the park that belongs to the Schloss and last but not least the 19th century church.
The small church right by the Schloss was built 1585-88 using the older structures. It was beautifully restored recently. Quite unusual in its shape is the patronage box (see picture, right side) which is enclosed by a sandstone balustrade and a wood/glass structure from the 18th century on top of a chapel-like room that opens to the nave with two semicircular arches. The ceiling of the nave has 13 pictures depicting scenes of both the Old and New Testament. Remarkable is also the altar that includes an epitaph, created 1592 by Samuel Lorentz from Freiberg in Renaissance style. Pulpit and font are from same time, both beautiful works, too. The patronage box is connected to the upper floor of the Schloss by a covered walk. Below a very nice wrought-iron gate.
The neighbouring Lukas church was built by Gotthilf Ludwig Möckel 1873-76 as parish church for the small town Planitz. The tall spire is a landmark in the region. The architecture is Neo-Gothic, the interior originally preserved from the construction era. The organ is a work of E. F. Walcker (Ludwigsburg). The church was undergoing restoration works when I visited.
The park was designed by Eduard Petzold (ca. 1870), a co-worker of Fürst von Pückler-Muskau, who enlarged the so far Baroque style garden and created viewpoints of the surrounding landscape - nowadays unfortunately mostly overbuilt by single family homes in the neighbourhood. Centre of the park is the teahouse, a small chinoise rococo building from 1789 which is in desparate need of restoration. Beautiful trees and rhododendrons!
Finally there is the cemetery of the town, more like another park. It is beautifully designed, provides shade on hot summer days where it is quite enjoyable to walk and have look at the more or less ornate graves, the blooming rhododendron and flowers.
Bus No. 16 to stop "Strandbad", from there a short walk up the hill. Or ride a bike, like I did.
Castle Stein is one of the many castles in the surroundings of Zwickau that are worth a visit. Its setting alone, on a rock above the Mulde river in a lovely valley, surrounded by vast forests, makes it worthwile to see. A train stop (22 minutes from Zwickau, stop "Hartenstein", hourly trains) is a minute away, so getting there is easy.
The castle was first mentioned in 1233. Since 1406 it was mostly owned by the Counts Schönburg, until it was confiscated by the communists in 1945. In 1996 Prince Alfred und Princess Marie Therese von Schönburg-Hartenstein bought the property back - including the vast forests around it. Foresting is the economic basis again since then. The upper part of the castle, built in the 13th century and not much modified since then, is a museum which you can see with a guided tour. The architecture is pretty interesting, late-Romanesque to late-Gothic, but not very ornate. One of the highlights is the wooden spiral staircase from the end of the 14th century. Quite interesting small exhibits with arms, art pieces.
Tue - Thu, Sat/Sun 10/11/13/14/15/16 h, in Nov, Feb, March last guided tour at 15 h, closed in Dec/Jan. Entrance fee is 3 Euro, photo permit 2.50 Euro
The lower part of the castle was built in the Renaissance but reconstructed after a fire 1762. It was restored beautifully and is not accessible except for concerts and other events as the family lives there a couple of months every year.
This wooden bridge crossing the Mulde river was built 1790, replacing an older one that was destroyed by a flood. It's for walkers and bikers only.
The special thing is that since a 1535 wooden pipeline that was integrated in the bridge provided water for the city, originating in nearby Reinsberg. A document in the city archive tells us that as early as 1350 four of those pipelines and wooden bridges guaranteed that the citizens of Zwickau always had enough drinking water. This one is the only one left, though. The pipelines ended at squares in the city, such as the main square, the Kornmarkt square and near the Dom St. Mary.
Schloss Osterstein, together with the neighbouring corn storehouse, forms a remarkable ensemble from the Renaissance era. It was built as a castle for the dukes of Saxony 1587-90. Three wings form a courtyard but leave the eastern side to the river open. Picturesque Renaissance gables, two towers with stairwells in the courtyard plus a tower with the main gate on the southern side add to the charm of the building. From 1773 until 1963 it served as prison. Thus the neighbouring church for the prisoners was built 1819, torn down and rebuilt larger in 1889.
On an earlier visit I saw the castle in decay (pic 4). I was VERY happy to see it beautifully restored on my recent visits. It is now a seniors residence. Occasionally they have events in the courtyard (like a summer fest, Night of the castles in the region or a historic Christmas market) or concerts in a Renaissance hall, so you might be lucky to get in.
Pic 3 shows the corn warehouse from 1480/81 - one of the oldest preserved in Germany, thus of some importance - in poor condition. I am glad to be able to report the state has provided funds for reconstruction in the next years. The roof is planned to be finished next year.
One of the most picturesque scenes in Zwickau is to find at Kornmarkt square. While the western and southern sides of the square are (re)built in modern style the other townhouses are really old.
Most unusual style has the townhouse "Schiffchen", named after the emblem on the facade that shows an anchor. The ground plan of the house follows exactly the bordering alleys so that the front side is very narrow and tall. The house was built end of the 15th century and shows elements of late Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Particularly interesting are the windows at the right side (Münzgasse).
Very interesting is also the fountain on the square. A large water wheel and five corn bags - all of French granite - remind of a mill that had been there in the past. The fountain was created by Wolfgang Jacob from Gundelfingen in 1998.
Zwickau is a city with several parks. The oldest and largest of them is the so called Schwanenteichpark (Swan lake park). The first park at this place had five ponds and was created 1473. In the middle of the 19th century the park with the lake in the centre was designed by landscaping architect Carl Eduard Petzold. Swans found their home on the lake in 1850, giving the park their name. The design is in English style - large meadows alternate with trees, shrubs and rhododendren, offering beautiful views, especially with the lake.
The park has a small zoo with goats and birds, playgrounds for the kids, is frequented by fishermen, there's an open air stage/concert place. You can rent rowing boats and pedalo boats in the shape of a swan as well as a solar boat for little fee from May to end of August.
Did you know Zwickau has a long tradition in automobile production? That Audi's birthplace was in Zwickau? Quite a surprise, right?
August Horch, a co-worker of Carl Benz, left the Benz company in 1899. He started manufacturing "Horch" cars (with little success) in 1900, finally moved the firm to Zwickau in 1904. The cars became famous for being reliable, proved in several rallyes (especially in the mountains), the firm grew. However, August Horch fought with the shareholders and finally left the firm in 1909 - only to establish another car manufacturing firm named "Audi" which is the Latin tanslation of "Horch".
Since then cars have been produced in Zwickau. After WWII, in the communist era, the Trabant was developed and some million cars of that type left the plant. With the fall of the wall Volkswagen bought the plant, also built another one a few km north of Zwickau (Mosel). They manufacture VW Golf, Passat, the auto body of Bentley and Phaeton and much more there.
The museum was opened in 2004 in the halls of the first Audi plant, thus it's the only one in Germany that actually is right where car manufacturing once happened. Since 2005 you can also visit the former offices of August Horch.
The exhibit is really large, calculate one or two hours minimum. If you're a big fan calculate much more. They have a permanent exhibit with many old and modern cars, covering mostly automobile history in Zwickau, but also in Germany in general. They also have temporary exhibits - when I visited it was about on the 125th anniversary of automobiles.
Opening hours: Tue - Sun 9.30 - 17.00 h
Entrance fee: 5 Euro
Photo permit: 2.50
An outstanding example of Art Nouveau is also the concert hall and ballroom "Neue Welt" that was built 1902/03 by architect Emil Rascher. The exterior is rather little exciting, but the interior makes up for it. Once you made it through the modern entrance/lobby (annex building) you enter the large hall with two balconies (terraces) on three sides, the stage on the fourth side. The ornaments are almost overwhelming: caryatids carry the ceiling which is decorated with elegant stucco. The huge, beautiful chandelier dominates the hall. Stucco works all over have mostly floral motifs, often roses. Mirrors, more lamps, ornamental friezes, balustrades complete the decoration.
The hall has a capacity of up to 2000 people (concerts). The regional symphony orchestra performs here as well as orchestras from all over Germany, but it is also home for gala events/balls. I was fortunate enough to attend a symphony concert in the Neue Welt (see Nightlife tip).