Zschopau's History

Even today, it is still possible to follow a small part of the historial trade route by walking down "Lange Straße" and passing the Stone Arch Bridge which was built near the ford in 1815. On the bridge, a plaque is attached depicting a tradesman with his horse and cart. It bears the inscription "Zschap mei Gees"(lit. Zschopau my Jesus) and serves as a reminder of the strain the tradesmen had to go through by passing the rough area and thick and dangerous forests before finally arriving in the safety of the town. 

The Church of St. Martin, the town hall, and the town wall were built in 1494/1495. Unfortunately, the church was damaged by several fires throughout the time. Therefore, the gothic enclosing walls which were part of the original building can only still be seen in the area of the chancel. The church, as we know it today, was rebuilt in 1751 and can be identified as baroque single nave church. Within St. Martin's, the classicistic altar from 1858 and the baroque organ are explicitly remarkable.

Besides the already existing trade and manufacturing of clothes, the mining industry started in Zschopau at the beginning of the 15th century. In the local shafts, galena (a kind of lead) with a small amount of silver and iron ore was won. 

In 1493, Zschopau gained the privileges of a "Free Mountain Town" (German: Freie Bergstadt). However, the "Great Silver Mining Rush" (German: Berggeschrei) did not fully arrive in Zschopau and the town was not able to compete with the recently developed mountain towns Schneeberg, Annaberg and Marienberg. Information on the original mining industry, the geology and mineralogy is available at the visitors' mine "Holy Trinity" (German: Besucherbergwerk "Heilige Dreifaltigkeit") which is open to guests and includes an educational trail.

The castle was transformed into a hunting chateau under the guidance of the electoral prince (German: Kurfürst) Moritz of Saxony in 1545-47. Thus, the castle did not only include festive and representative rooms but also became the seat of the Higher Forestry and the Game-keeping authorities. Furthermore, it was the centre to control the wide-ranging forests. Cornelius von Rüxleben is probably the most well-known representative of this department. He was a protégé of the prince elector August (not to be confused with the Saxonian King August The Strong).  Due to the growing numbers of hunting societies of the prince electoral, Rüxleben bought two town houses which were converted into a noble house with a beautiful renaissance-styled portal. Today, this very building serves as town hall.

In 1907, Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen, a Danish engineer, started to build valves under his own direction and he and his fellow engineers developed the two-stroke engines for DKW.  This was the starting point for Zschopau to reach world-wide fame with its motorbikes and company name "DKW"/ "MZ" (after the reunification of Germany "MuZ" and later called "MZ" again).

Zschopau was a district town from 1952 until 1994 and became a great district town on the 1st of January 1999. Today, 10.500 inhabitants live in Zschopau and its districts Krumhermersdorf, Ganshäuser and Wilischthal.