The history of Altenburg

The county town of Altenburg, located 45 kilometres to the south of Leipzig, has primarily become famous all over the world as the home of Skat, the German national card game, and of playing cards. It has been proved that Skat was invented here by card-loving Altenburg residents between 1810 and 1815. It is no accident that Skat was born in Altenburg. The town’s position on major trading routes, its flourishing markets, convivial townspeople and prosperous farmers from the surrounding area were an ideal breeding ground, supplemented by substantial intellectual and social life, in which both the ducal court and town residents took part.

historic photograph of the marketplace The marketplace about 1850

In 1811, i.e. around the time when Skat was invented, F. A. Brockhaus, the dictionary publisher, wrote: "In the five months of my stay in Altenburg, I have experienced more in the intellectual field that some people are often granted in the whole of their lives." After the continuous spread of Skat, the first Skat Congress was held in Altenburg in 1886.

Historic photograph of the castle (historic photograph of the castle)

And since the 11th Congress in 1927, a "Skat Tribunal" has resided in Altenburg. And this passion of Altenburg's citizens also promoted the production of playing cards, which have been made within the town walls for 500 years now. The Bechstein Playing Card Factory founded in 1832 grew to be the largest producer of playing cards in Germany after 1900. One of the world's most attractive museums of playing cards has been housed in Altenburg Castle since 1923. And where else in the world is there a monument dedicated solely to a card game, namely the Skat Fountain on Brühl?


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Saxon "Theft of the Princes"