The Sorbian residence "Zwickowa" was mentioned for the first time in the foundation letter of the monastery Bosau for the Marienkirche. At the intersection of two long-distance trade routes, Prague-Leipzig and Nuremberg-Freiberg, in the floodplain of the Mulde River, Zwickau received its town charter as early as 1212.
Cloth making was the first industry to develop into an important trade. "Zwicksches Tuch" ('Zwickau cloth') was traded throughout Germany, Poland and Bohemia. With the discovery of silver around 1470 in the nearby Schneeberg, in the exploitation of which numerous residents of Zwickau were also involved, Zwickau soon achieved economic prosperity and became one of the most important cities in the Electorate of Saxony.
Two more Zwickau trades have their roots in that time. Beer brewing is one of them, and also the art of letterpress printing, which has existed in Zwickau since 1523.