Zurich Stories and Tips

Left Bank

Left Bank Skyline Photo, Zurich, Switzerland

To be quite honest, Zürich does not compete with the more major European destinations in terms of sheer quantity of worthwhile things to see. However, the central area to the west of the River Limmat, which is commonly known as the Left Bank, is not only the site of several interesting attractions, but is also generally nice, and I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time there, both initially as a sightseer and later as someone who had become familiar with the city.

The area is the location of the main station, where many visitors first arrive on the train. To one side of the grand transport hub, beyond the statue of Alfred Escher, a prominent local 19th century magnate, is the start of the famous Bahnhofstrasse. The grand shopping street is sometimes called the most beautiful in the world, which is in my opinion is somewhat overstating the case, although admittedly it does compare favourably with many counterparts elsewhere. The elegant thoroughfare, which is off limits to all traffic except trams, is a fine place to stroll and look at luxury goods that are too expensive for the majority of us to buy. The opulence reaches a peak around the prestigious Paradeplatz, where Tiffany and other similarly exclusive outlets are located.

One establishment that is particularly worth visiting is Beyer, which not only sells watches by esteemed manufacturers such as Rolex and IWC, but also houses a museum of timepieces. On display are a notable variety of weird and wonderful items, ranging from vintage sundials to modern scientific chronometers.

Meanwhile, the area that is sandwiched between the glitzy boulevard and the river is home to part of the historic core of the city, which is mostly a network of picturesque cobbled lanes. Aside from the general abundance of lovely old buildings and the presence of hundreds of drinking fountains, there are also some worthy sights including Lindenhof, which is a peaceful unpaved square shaded by lime trees. Once the site of a Roman customs post, it has been the subject of a building ban for centuries, and nowadays locals gather there to walk dogs or to play chess, whilst the good views afforded by the open hilltop position draw tourists.

Nearby is the Church of St Peter, a somewhat understated but not unattractive structure that mostly dates from the early 1700s. Although best known because its spire features the largest clock face in Europe, the striking baroque interior also deserves attention.

Another noteworthy place of worship, the Minster of Our Lady, is located down below, almost at the waterfront, and features some striking stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. On the same square is the ornate guildhall known as the Zunfthaus zur Meisen. The building has an elaborately decorated rococo interior that is actually more aesthetically pleasing than the porcelain collection that is on display inside, which belongs to the Swiss National Museum.

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