Gewandhaus (Cloth Hall) Zwickau

The Gewandhaus, built between 1522 and 1525, was a guild and trade hall of the cloth makers' guild. The »spectacles« at the top of the late Gothic gable façade is a reminder of this. Situated on the main market square, next to the Town Hall, this little jewel is today home to the main seat in Zwickau of the Plauen-Zwickau Theaters. It was opened in 1823 with the opera »Der Freischütz« by which the then 13-year-old Robert Schumann is said to have been enthralled.


The Gewandhaus was erected on the site of a torn down old store and cloth hall as a guild hall for the cloth makers during the blooming of Zwickau's clothmaking for their cloth shows. Here, the four eldest masters »Viermeister« of the cloth makers' guild would examine the materials made by the Zwickau cloth makers. On the ground floor, the meat and bread stalls were housed; later it was the home of the city police. On the first floor, there was a large room which served the cloth makers, furriers, cobblers and other craftsmen as a space to sell their wares during the seasonal markets. However, in bad weather, it was used for exercises by the garrison and even as a military hospital in times of war.

In 1812, this large room was divided into two halls and many adjoining rooms by partition walls. In the largest, at the front, the »Theatre in the Gewandhaus« was completed in 1823. This theatre, however, was no more than a temporary measure. After plans for a completely new theatre collapsed for financial reasons, in the summer of 1855 a theatre was finally built along the longitudinal axis of the Gewandhaus. It was opened on the 13th of November by the Hermann Meinhardt Society with a performance of the opera »Die weiße Dame« (»The White Lady«) by Boieldieu.

Gewandhaus Zwickau - Front View


Until the beginning of the 20th century this, in many ways inadequate, theatrical space was renovated and modified time and again. At the same time, a considerable sum had been collected for the construction of a new theatre building. All of these plans collapsed, however, with the outbreak of World War One and the onset of inflation. Zwickau survived the 2nd World War without substantial destruction and the Gewandhaus remained undamaged. Nevertheless, the building and its facilities proved once again to be insufficient for the needs of its citizens.


In the following decades, thanks to a variety of initiatives, the Zwickau Gewandhaus was renovated and enhanced as never previously imagined possible. Thus, in 1953, the totally obsolete theatre house was torn down and built anew. The character of this listed building was maintained, but this time space was made available to personnel for washing and showering.

In the '90s, renovations were again required due to asbestos pollution and also due to an increase in technical needs. On the 18th of October 1997, the Gewandhaus, whose interior had been fundamentally remodeled, was reopened for the last time, as yet, with a performance of the contemporary opera »The Idiot« by Karl Ottomar Treibmann.

»Der Rose Pilgerfahrt« World Premiere


In 2000, the theatres of Plauen and Zwickau entered into a fusion brought on by economic reasons. The new PLAUEN-ZWICKAU THEATER, with its expanded ensembles in musical theatre, plays and ballet, and with its orchestra and puppet theatre, wishes to abduct audiences in both cities into the world of the theatre. And incidentally, the »House« tends to the legacy of Robert Schumann not only with its performances; it is also the home of a prize winner. In 1967, the theatre's Philharmonic Orchestra was awarded the Robert Schumann Prize.