Powering ahead: shaped by mining and the automotive industry, the Zwickau rural district is buzzing.

The Zwickau rural district is in Saxony’s westernmost corner. Bordered to the east by Chemnitz and the Ore Mountain district, to the south by the Vogtland district, to the north by the Central Saxony rural district and to the west by the state of Thuringia, it is the smallest of the ten Saxon rural districts, but at the same time the most densely populated.

An area of just 40 by 37 kilometres holds 33 municipalities, including 14 towns. The biggest, with a population of more than 91,000, is Zwickau, which gives the district its name; the next largest is Limbach-Oberfrohna. 

For centuries, the history and fortunes of the rural district of Zwickau have been shaped by mining and industry, especially car manufacturing. That can be seen in the many museums, and from the many car manufacturers and automotive suppliers. Zwickau’s economic strength has given the rural district a reputation as Saxony’s “driving force”.

But the district has plenty to offer apart from the growl of car engines: the birthplaces of the composer Robert Schumann or the author Karl May are culturally important, as is the magnificent Grünfelder Park, a unique example of Saxon horticulture. The densely populated district feels far quieter – and wonderfully relaxed – on a hike, on horseback or kayaking along the Zwickauer Mulde.

What is life like in the Zwickau rural district?

The little region in western Saxony has a long history. Its castles, palaces and historic village centres date back to the 10th century. The factor that set the economy rolling in the Zwickau rural district, and that has shaped it for 500 years, is mining. The extraction of hard coal rapidly spurred on industrialisation; the many well-preserved townhouses and villas, splendid industrial buildings and grand parks all testify to the area’s early wealth. At the time, Zwickau was known as the “Saxon Manchester” and nicknamed “Town of the Hundred Chimneys”.

Auto enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the August Horch Museum in Zwickau, Germany’s only automotive technology museum, on the very spot where Audi’s founder once built cars. Alongside rare originals of Saxon automotive engineering, they can also see how cars were made in the 1920s and 1930s. Other fascinating museums reveal the development of the Saxon textile industry, which also has its roots in this district.

Music-lovers come to Zwickau for a totally different reason: the Robert Schumann Conservatory not only preserves the memory of the world-famous composer and his wife Clara; it also encourages budding musicians.

When they need time out, residents of this busy district can explore the gentle slopes of the Mulde valley, the thick forests of the Vogtland and the heights of the neighbouring Ore Mountains. Strolling through Grünfelder Park in Waldenburg, one of the world’s biggest English landscape parks, you come across glorious riverside woods and placid ponds one moment, and historical bathhouses and mausoleums the next. In the afternoons, swords are crossed in the park’s open-air theatre: it specialises in professional show fights that make for heart-pumping performances. 

Anyone needing even more relaxation after a hard day’s work is sure to find breathing space in one of the many salt caves, salt vapour caves and spa centres in Meerane, Niederfrohna or Hartenstein.

What is it like to learn and work in the Zwickau rural district?

Cars have rolled off the assembly line non-stop at the August Horch engine works in Zwickau for more than 100 years; first Horch’s Audi, then East Germany’s lovable Trabant, today VW. The automotive industry and its supply chain form the heart of the district. Other sectors work hand in hand with this big business: fabric manufacturers, for instance, produce innovative textiles for the aerospace and automotive industries. The district’s 14,000 small and medium-sized trade businesses are proud of their work, too. They see tradition and innovation not as contradictory, but as a driving force for progress.

One major advantage of the Zwickau rural district is its easily accessible location. The two motorways – the A4 and A72 – and a network of four-lane arterial roads create the perfect conditions for just-in-time production. A new federal road, Bundesstrasse 93, was built especially for VW’s new site. The district’s business parks are also well connected to the rail network. 

Find your feet in Zwickau

The welcome centre for the Zwickau region is the central port of call for any questions newcomers from Germany and abroad have about starting out in the district, or for regional companies seeking new employees. Want to be part of the Zwickau region? You’ll find everything else you need to know on the Zwickau region website.

The district sets a shining example of how to attract all-important fresh blood: degree courses are run both at the University of Applied Sciences in Zwickau (with more than 5,000 students) and the University of Cooperative Education in Glauchau. Nine vocational school centres offer excellent training conditions and create a strong bond between trainees and the companies where they work.

Life in the Zwickau rural district is varied, close to nature and inexpensive –  the cost of rent and living is even lower than the Saxon average –  but with no reduction in the quality of the jobs or the services provided. The nearest city does not take long to reach, the infrastructure is well developed and there is a wide range of cultural activities. What more could you ask for?