Written by manatwork on 04 Apr, 2011
My first visit to Europe was almost 20 years ago, and it was Zurich that I came to love the most at that time. I still do. I went back to Zurich 3 years ago for the Annual Summer Street Parade. Comparable to Berlin's Love…Read More
My first visit to Europe was almost 20 years ago, and it was Zurich that I came to love the most at that time. I still do. I went back to Zurich 3 years ago for the Annual Summer Street Parade. Comparable to Berlin's Love Parade, the Street Parade is one of the largest techno parties in the world.Kelvin, an old friend of mine who lives in Zurich, greeted me at the arrival hall in Zurich Airport. After he handed me the keys to his apartment, he left for his job at the airport. His apartment is at Kempfhoweg, which is about 30 minutes walk to the city center. It is a beautiful apartment with a large outdoor veranda good for barbecue. The same day I took a walk along the Limmat River toward the city center. Nothing much has changed in Zurich. But I noticed a few new Starbucks establishments in the city. Bahnhofstrasse is the main shopping area in Zurich. The residents enjoy one of the best qualities of life in the world, and here, you'll find the latest luxury and international brands as well as major departmental stores such as Jelmoli and Globus for the general affluence where shopping is their favorite pastime. Uniquely Swiss-made are the fine chocolates, cheese, Swiss Army knives, watches, embroidery and handmade clocks.On the top floor in Jelmoli, you'll find delicious cuisines which are self-service and charge by weight. It's a good way to enjoy an afternoon lunch without breaking the bank.Kelvin and I went shopping (again!) the next day. We took a walk to Old Town, a cobblestones streets with many specialty and antique shops adding to its charm. The three old churches in Zurich are clustered around this area: The Grossmünster ("great minster"), Fraumünster (Church of Our Lady) and St. Peter's Church. St Peter's Church is the oldest. It has the largest clock face in Europe with the minute hand 12 feet long! After a day of walking, we went home on the tram.Public transportation is extremely popular here, and it is one of the bests in the world. Here, you find S-Bahn (local trains), trams, and buses. Tickets are purchased on vending machines which are located at every stop. Like most cities in Europe, ticket agents occasionally check the passengers with valid tickets. If you do not have one, you pay a fine. That night we stayed in to watch the opening of the Summer Olympics 2008 in Beijing. Zhang Yimou choreographed the spectacular opening sequence. It was an eye opener to the rest of the world. China is finally here to stay.The following day was the Street Parade. We went out early to Odeon Cafe off Bellevue. A popular hangout among locals, Odeon Cafe has a classic art-nouveau interior with outdoor sittings as well. The cafe was already packed when we got there. Crowd was jamming the streets, and people were dressing up to their favorite characters. It reminded me of Halloween in America. Parade of floating trucks moved slowly along the road by Lake Zurich with people dancing and drinking with techno music blasting away from the speakers on each truck. After hopping from one place to another, we finally ended up back at the apartment for a barbecue. And to end the night, we proceeded to the bar to drink. It was fun as we bumped into some old friends that I have not met in years.Zurich is a leading global financial center in the world. Most of the research and development centers are concentrated in Zurich. According to several surveys, Zurich is constantly ranked among the wealthiest cities in Europe with the best quality in life. I can't think of anything unsatisfactory about the city. As I left the city the next night to Ljubljana, I was already looking forward to my next trip in Zurich. Close
Written by AnythngArt on 03 Mar, 2010
Need a reason to visit Zurich? For years (seven, to be exact), this city has been chosen as the city with the best quality of life…not just in Switzerland, but the world! With its exceptionally beautiful lakeside setting, Zurich offers a unique mix of features…Read More
Need a reason to visit Zurich? For years (seven, to be exact), this city has been chosen as the city with the best quality of life…not just in Switzerland, but the world! With its exceptionally beautiful lakeside setting, Zurich offers a unique mix of features for any traveler‘s delight, including world class attractions, a culinary repertoire that ranges from dining options that have existed since the Middle Ages to cutting-edge cuisine in an ultra-modern setting. The city is renowned for its arts and culture and lively nightlife, ranging from world class opera to the latest rock groups playing its trendy clubs.Zurich SitesGuildhalls - These magnificent, centrally located buildings are a much loved feature of Zurich. For years they have welcomed visitors to their doors, as well as functioning as traditional craft guilds. These Medieval structures have been offering traditional Swiss fare, such as Geschnetzeltes with Rosti (veal with roasted potatoes), in their dining halls and have become a favorite stop for gourmet diners.Riverside Churches - Zurich’s most beautiful churches can perhaps best be appreciated aboard a boat on the River Limmat. Three important structures line its banks: St. Peter’s, known for its clock, the oldest in Europe; the Grossmunster, with its twin towers; and the Fraumunster, with its stunning stained glass windows, designed by artist Marc Chagall.Lindenhof - This "Lime Court" was formerly a customs house, dating back to Roman times. It now serves as Zurich’s most idyllic viewpoint for taking in the city. Under the lime trees, travelers are likely to encounter Zurich natives playing petanque as they roll their boules across gravel lawns to the sounds of splashing fountains. This rooftop to the city is a great area to enjoy nature and take in an awe-inspiring view of the city below.Mt. Uetilberg - This Zurich recreational area boasts stunning views of Lake Zurich and the cityscape. A narrow-gauge railway takes visitors up the mountain, while walking down in summer is the popular way to enjoy the mountainside. In winter, sledding down the mountain is the preferred method.Tonhalle - The Tonhalle Orchestra, lead by conductor David Zinman, has become one of Europe’s most prestigious symphonies in recent years. With nearly 100 musicians, this orchestra plays in a concert hall renowned for its acoustic splendor.MuseumsKunsthaus - Zurich’s Art Museum has an outstanding collection, with works ranging from the 15th century to the present, as well as a series of ongoing exhibitions that attract worldwide attention. Among the artists whose works are featured here are Edvard Munch and Alberto Giacometti.National Museum - Housing Switzerland’s largest collection of cultural artifacts, the National Museum includes items dating from prehistoric times to the present. Located next to the train station, the National Museum’s building itself has frequently been compared to a fairy castle with its mishmash of architectural styles dating back to the late 1800s.Rietberg Museum - Switzerland’s only museum dedicated to the collection of non-European cultures, the Rietberg, features collections from Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania. In 2007, a new wing was added to the museum, doubling the exhibition space.Shopping, Dining, and NightlifeBahnhofstrasse- Beginning at the main station, this street is Zurich’s most elegant address for shopping. Lined with trendy boutiques and stylish grand hotels, the Bahnhofstrasse ends at the shores of Lake Zurich.Old Town - Located in the heart of Zurich, this area runs between the main station and the lake, along the eastern side of the River Limmat. Dating back 2,000 years, today Zurich’s Old Town is a hub for restaurants, boutiques, and movie houses, which line its alleyways. Niederdorf, one section of Old Town, is a draw for those seeking a multicultural nightlife scene.Sinicity - This urban area was once an old paper-making factory that is now filled with trendy shopping, chic dining, and plenty of entertainment in a cozy mix of old World charm and modern amenities.Zurich West - Located in a former industrial area around Escher-Wyss-Platz, today this is one of Zurich’s evening hotspots, with a vibrant mix of restaurants, clubs, and movies, all centered around the Schiffbau Cultural Complex.There is much more to discover in Zurich than can be listed here. With stunning Lake Zurich and the River Limmat framing the city, it’s a great location to explore on foot or by boat. The city offers up the best of Swiss living: arts, entertainment, shopping, dining, and sightseeing…more than enough to please any visitor to this charming city. Close
Written by frangliz on 12 Sep, 2009
My first experience of the city of Zurich was the central railway station, or Hauptbahnhof, and it did not endear me to it. I arrived on a train from the airport at an underground platform and was to meet my son and his partner somewhere…Read More
My first experience of the city of Zurich was the central railway station, or Hauptbahnhof, and it did not endear me to it. I arrived on a train from the airport at an underground platform and was to meet my son and his partner somewhere on the station, but I didn't know where. I decided to follow the signs for those who wanted to catch a bus or a tram, but ended up in a street to one side. Going back inside the station, I was surprised how crowded it was; it was just after 5pm, but apparently it's always packed with people. I headed for the main entrance past an open market. I thought I'd better ring my son to see where they were waiting, but there was a man playing an accordion and I didn't think I would be able to hear. Making my way just outside the entrance, I quickly made the phone call and just managed to hear my son telling me they were beside the 'information bubble' when a police car came past, sirens blaring. Back inside I went, unable to spot the so-called bubble. Phoning once again, I said I would wait underneath the main departure board. A couple of minutes later, we found each other. I wondered what madness had brought me to such a noisy, crowded place, but fortunately my first impression of Zurich was not a lasting one.From the railway station, the famous Bahnhofstrasse runs right down to the Burkli Platz, a square by the shore of Lake Zurich. On this street you can shop, do your banking, or take a break at the Sprungli Cafe. I merely stood at the doorway of a shop where chocolate was actually being made and was hit by the aroma; it was no good buying anything there as it would immediately have melted in the heat. The traffic on this bustling street is not as heavy as I would have expected for such a city, but there are trams as well. I couldn't quite fathom why there was often a zebra crossing on one side of the road but not the other, but crossing over was much easier than, for example, in a city such as Bristol.Unless you are a shopaholic, I would recommend leaving the Bahnhofstrasse behind in favour of some of the narrower streets. It is easy to spot the spire of St Peter's Church, below which is the largest clock face in Europe. The interior of the church with its central pulpit is worth having a look at; I was surprised to see white net curtains at the upper windows. I believe the church is often used for concerts of classical music.Many of Zurich's streets are cobbled, so a good pair of walking shoes will make sense if you want to enjoy the old town. Not far from St Peter's Church, up a rather steep winding way, is the Lindenhof. This is a kind of park that is popular with both locals and tourists. It's so high up that there are wonderful views of the River Limmat and the Niederdorf district on the east of the river, above which the twin towers of the Grossmunster or cathedral are ever dominant. The Lindenhof's trees offer welcome shade on hot, sunny days; people come to relax on a seat or the outer wall, and local men play chess and boules here. It is worth the climb up.Heading back south, the Fraumunster or Church of Our Lady is the outstanding building to take a look at. Its spire is a distinctive green, and like St Peter's Church, it has a sizeable clock face. The cloister is now an open area with modern frescoes by Paul Bodmer – I made the most of the fact that photography is allowed in this area as it is prohibited inside both the Fraumunster and the Grossmunster. The modern windows by Marc Chagall inside the church are a joy to behold in their rich colours.Equally impressive are Giacometti's windows in the Grossmunster or cathedral on the east bank of the River Limmat. I also loved the organ, which is decorated with golden angels. The smaller windows of plain glass were in the process of being replaced with more colourful ones at the time of our visit. It is worth going down the stone steps to the crypt, although the atmosphere is extremely musty and I wouldn't have wanted to stay down there for long. The frescoes are very faded, but there is a heavy fifteenth-century statue of Charlemagne with his gold crown. I wasn't able to climb the stairs in the towers that dominate Zurich's skyline, but if you can do so you will be rewarded with wonderful views of the city.Zurich offers a huge choice of eateries, from oriental to traditional Swiss to other types of European cuisine; I even saw an advertisement for a Mongolian barbecue. The vegetarian buffet of the Hiltl had been recommended to me; we decided however on the Zeughauskeller, a busy and reasonably priced beer hall specialising in sausages and rosti but offering many other choices too. The following day we had a salad lunch at Cafe Wuhre, right beside the River Limmat. There are of course many higher-priced establishments than these, such as the Zunfthaus zur Waag on Munsterhof. In the Niederdorf on the east bank of the River Limmat, there is again an enormous number of cafes and restaurants. My son and his partner had enjoyed Swiss sausages and cheese fondu one evening at Swiss Cuchi before my arrival. I can recommend the coffee at Cafe Henrici, where we sat outside in the morning sun. Had anyone shown me the rickety old metal chair I was to sit on there before I travelled, I would have avoided the place like the plague, but when we did sit down it didn't seem to matter. Henrici certainly seemed to be a popular place, and the interior was very stylish in comparison. I went down to the ladies in the basement and noticed a door with several dates on it, the earliest of which was from the fourteenth century. Henrici is actually a hotel but I cannot comment on it as we stated at the Helmhaus, just south of the Grossmunster. It was pricey but I would wholeheartedly recommend it.By four o'clock in the afternoon we were sweltering and delighted to find that Cafe Kantorei in Neumarkt offered bottles of apple juice that were considerably more generous than the 200 ml servings of fruit juice that most restaurants seemed to offer. Kantorei has quite extensive outdoor seating, and our waiter there was British. He chatted about how expensive Zurich was but assured us that salaries were relatively high too. My visit only lasted twenty-four hours, but I was able to fit in a boat trip on Lake Zurich. You could choose whether to have lunch on the boat or to sit outside, admire the view and take photographs which is what we did. The cost was ten Swiss Francs for a trip that lasted an hour. If you have more time you could, for example, take a boat to Rapperswil on the eastern shore and spend some time there.A great part of Zurich's attraction for me is that it has something of everything: a lake, a river, a mountain, wonderful old buildings, museums, eateries, shops: the list goes on and on. Admittedly I was very lucky with the weather, but even if I hadn't been, I could have visited one or two museums or gone on a bus tour of the city rather than walking round. I was struck by the fact that it seemed perfectly acceptable for single people, women included, to go on a boat trip or have a meal out on their own. The city is very clean and we were surprised that there was relatively little traffic. Cycling is definitely encouraged. Although it is expensive in some ways, plenty of things are free, and there are a few places to stay that don't cost the earth. I would gladly go back for a longer stay. Close
Written by frangliz on 06 Sep, 2009
Having planned a short trip to Zurich, I scanned the shelves of my small local library for guide books and found just one on Switzerland. I decided to see if Amazon had any specifically for Zurich and again found only one: Cityspots Zurich. It hadn't…Read More
Having planned a short trip to Zurich, I scanned the shelves of my small local library for guide books and found just one on Switzerland. I decided to see if Amazon had any specifically for Zurich and again found only one: Cityspots Zurich. It hadn't yet been rated but seemed worth ordering.The book is divided into five main sections, Introducing Zurich, Making the Most of Zurich, The City of Zurich, Out of Town and Practical Information. There is an index at the end, but maps are interspersed at appropriate places. Plenty of colour illustrations give a feel for the place even if some of them are quite small.I didn't read much of the introduction, although I was interested to find out that the Dada movement had originated in Zurich. The section also gives a brief history of the city, an overview of its lifestyle and culture, and a useful month-by-month summary of annual events in Zurich.The section on Making the Most of Zurich looks first at shopping, then at eating and drinking, followed by entertainment and nightlife. These are all rather generalised, but the next sub-section on sport and relaxation lists a fair number of activities. Then comes accommodation, which suggests nineteen hotels in three price categories. My comment here has to be that for the Helmhaus Hotel where I stayed, the book says 'Ask for a room overlooking the river'; the hotel is close to the river, admittedly, but the rooms do not overlook it.The section continues with a brief look at Zurich's top ten attractions. I was able to see five of them in twenty-four hours, namely Lake Zurich, the Bahnhofstrasse, the Fraumunster, the Grossmunster and Niederdorf. I would gladly have swapped the Bahnhofstrasse for a visit to the Uetli Mountain had time permitted, but the sights I did see were certainly worthy of a top ten list. The section also gives ideas for activities that are free of charge and things to do when it rains – I was lucky to have sun. Practical information on transport concludes the section; I was glad to discover here that it was easy to take a train from the airport to the city centre. The section on the City of Zurich focuses on three distinct areas: central Zurich, Niederdorf and beyond, and Zurich West. Each sub-section gives a little information on the main attractions of the area as well as shops and restaurants, with an indication of how expensive they are. We didn't have time to visit Zurich West at all, but it was in Cityspots Zurich that we found out about the Lindenhof and its wonderful views, as well as the Zeughauskeller, considered to be Zurich's top beer hall.Out of Town was not relevant to me as my time was so limited, but my son and his partner were able to make a day trip to Lake Lucerne and Mount Pilatus, having been inspired by the information and pictures in this section of Cityspots Zurich. The book also suggests Rapperswil on the eastern shore of Lake Zurich as a worthwhile place to make a trip to. Details of accommodation in Lucerne and Rapperswil will be useful for anyone wanting an overnight stay.Practical Information is a fairly short but important section that concludes the book. A few details are given on how to travel to Zurich, currency, opening hours and so on. Advice is given on suitability of the city for children as well as facilities for disabled travellers. Practical Information also includes emergency telephone numbers, locations of a pharmacy, hospital and dental clinic, and a list of embassies and consulates for English-speaking countries.Cityspots Zurich is a small format and with just 144 pages is not heavy to carry. A few useful phrases in German with a pronunciation guide are given on the inside front and back covers; we found that almost everyone spoke English, but it is still worth making the effort to respond now and again in German. I didn't honestly find that the maps in the book were detailed enough, but I was able to print one from the Internet that showed the way from the railway station to our hotel, and once in Zurich it was easy to get hold of a large map free of charge.If you are making a visit solely to Zurich I would definitely recommend this guide. If, however, you are travelling to other destinations in Switzerland it would be preferable to have a guide for the country as a whole. I don't regret buying Cityspots Zurich in the least, although I needed larger maps. The photographs did make me feel that I had chosen the right destination, and I still enjoy looking at them even though I took many of my own during my visit.Cityspots ZurichWritten by Teresa FisherUpdated by Marc KrebsThomas Cook Publishing, 2009PaperbackISBN 978-1-84848-062-9Price £6.99 (Amazon £4.19) Close
Written by SeenThat on 09 Feb, 2009
I arrived at Zurich as an invitee of an international corporation. At the time I was unaware to have been chosen by them to perform a technology transfer for my country; eventually that led to my leaving it and becoming a world wide pilgrim. However,…Read More
I arrived at Zurich as an invitee of an international corporation. At the time I was unaware to have been chosen by them to perform a technology transfer for my country; eventually that led to my leaving it and becoming a world wide pilgrim. However, for a week I had the opportunity to enjoy one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.BackgroundThe largest city in Switzerland is a small town of less than 400000 inhabitants and is the main commercial and cultural center of the country; indisputably it is one of the main global financial centers. The name is Celtic in origin – Turus. It was Romanized into Turicum and afterwards Germanized into Zürich. HistoryWithin the Roman Empire, Turicum was a tax-collecting point for goods trafficked on the Limmat River. Afterwards – during the ninth century - a Carolingian Castle was built by the grandson of Charlemagne, Louis the German. He also founded the Fraumünster Abbey and endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zürich, Uri, and the Albis forest. In 1045, King Henry III made the abbess the ruler of the area by granting the convent the right to hold markets, collect tolls, and even mint coins.Emperor Frederick II promoted the abbess of the Fraumünster to the rank of a duchess in 1234. The abbess assigned the mayor, and she frequently delegated the minting of coins to citizens of the city. In the 14th century, the Guild Laws (called here Zunftordnung) were established and in 1336 Rudolf Brun, became the first independent mayor.In 1351, Zürich joined the Swiss confederation as the fifth member; however, it was expelled from the confederation in 1440 due to a war with the other member states over the territory of Toggenburg. The event is known as the Old Zürich War. The city was defeated in 1446 and re-admitted to the confederation in 1450.The city featured a central role in the Reformation. Zwingli began the Swiss reformation by preaching in Zürich; he lived in the city from 1484 until his death in 1531.The first railway on Swiss territory was built here since 1847, connecting the Zurich with Baden. Even nowadays, trains are a main mass-transport system in the country. The beautiful and functional Hauptbahnhof (Zurich railway terminal) was built in 1871.EnvironmentZürich was built around the Sihl and Limmat Rivers; they meet at the end of Platzspitz, which borders the Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum). Lake Zurich delimits the town to the south and wooded hills, which are part of the Albis Range, delimit it to the north. The Glattal – or Valley of the Glatt River – delimits its northwest. The historic center of the city is the Lindenhof, a hill on the left bank of the Limmat River, 700 meters north from Lake Zürich. The Old Town is not surrounded by walls anymore, but its maze of narrow alleys successfully keeps its medieval look.The city is divided into twelve districts (Kreis in German), each one of which contains between 1 and 4 neighborhoods; District One contains the Old Town and is thus the most important one for travelers. The district boundaries follow the boundaries of previously existing municipalities before they were incorporated into the city during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.Traveling AroundZurich has several railway stations: Hauptbahnhof (Zurich Main Railway Terminal), Oerlikon, Stadelhofen, Hardbrücke, Tiefenbrunnen, Enge, Wiedikon and Altstetten. The Hauptbahnhof is worth a visit even if not using it. The French TGV high-speed, the Cisalpino and the InterCityExpress stop in Zürich.The Swiss A1, A3 and A4 motorways pass nearby Zürich, connecting the city with all the main destinations in the country. The Zürich International Airport is located less than 10 kilometres northeast of the city, in Kloten.Within the city there are four means of mass-transportation: the S-Bahn (local trains), trams, electric trolley buses and diesel buses. Boats cross the rivers and the lake.LanguageSwitzerland has four official languages. The Canton of Zurich is a German speaking one. However, I could communicate easily in English, even while asking casual passerby’s for directions.Main SightsThe Swiss Reform of the Church created several churches of historical importance. The Grossmünster is within the old city; there Zwingli was pastor. It was building in the ninth century and was declared by Charlemagne an "Imperial church." Another old church of interest is the Fraumünster, on the opposite side of the Limmat River, which was also built from the ninth century. Its Romanesque choir dates from 1250-70 and Marc Chagall prepared its stained glass windows. The Church of St. Peter is south from the Fraumünster, in the old city and features largest clock in Europe. The Bahnhofstrasse is Zürich main shopping avenue; it starts at the main train station and reaches the lakeside. The sumptuous banks on Parade-Platz, the plaza in the middle of Bahnhofstrasse, seem to be the real cathedrals of modern Switzerland. This is the main visible testimony of Zürich being the world's primary centre for offshore banking, a result of the Swiss banks secrecy’s practices. This practice as well as the low taxation attracted global corporations like Dow Chemical, IBM, General Motors, Google, Microsoft, and Pfizer into creating their European Centers in Zurich.The Lindenhof is near St. Peter, it was the site of a Roman castle. The Old Town and the Guild Houses in its surroundings transport the visitor back in time, into a long gone Medieval Europe.There are many interesting museums in town. The most interesting ones for the casual traveler are the Museum Bärengasse, which specializes in the history of the city in the 17th century. The Kunsthaus Zürich displays one a huge collection of Classic Modern Art in the world. The Swiss National Museum (Landesmuseum) is located in the Platzspitz Park in front of the Hauptbahnhof and provides an awesome glimpse into Swiss history.Zürich's old town at offers a lot of nightlife and clubbing at the Niederdorf district and it hosts the Street Parade in August every year; there is an astounding variety of restaurants offering food from all over the world. Close
Written by Krys T on 20 Mar, 2007
Zurich has 3 main churches in the centre, and we visited all 3 of them on our first day. First the Grossmünster. This cathedral stands in a little square at the junction of Oberdorf and Niederdorf, and faces northwest over the Limmat river. It was…Read More
Zurich has 3 main churches in the centre, and we visited all 3 of them on our first day. First the Grossmünster. This cathedral stands in a little square at the junction of Oberdorf and Niederdorf, and faces northwest over the Limmat river. It was founded in the 9th century by Charlemagne and the current church was built in the 12th century. Its distinctive two towers can be seen from all over the city.At 10am it had only just opened so we were amongst the first visitors. This was great as it meant that we could climb the 187 steps to the top of the south tower and enjoy the views practically uninterrupted. Fabulous views over the whole of Zurich, hazily over to the ZurichSee made those steps, and the 2CHF fee, more than worthwhile. It gave us a great sense of the layout of the city too. We also enjoyed watching the jackdaws flying in and out of the very top of the tower, dropping twigs as they went, clearly nest building.Back down into the church, which is quite plain and austere - a result, my guidebook told me, of the Reformation. Many people go to enjoy the large colourful stained glass windows by Giacometti, but being contrary, I really like the large modern floral arrangement that stood where you might expect an altar to be. We went down into the little peaceful vaulted crypt too, where the original 15th century statue of Charlemagne from the South Tower is kept (there's a replacement up there now). Out into the morning air once more and across the river to the Fraumünster. Just the one graceful spire this time, and to my mind, a less pleasant interior. However the main feature of this church is the stained glass windows by Marc Chagall in the transept - in fact most people seem to ignore the rest of the church altogether. How much you like them really depends on how much you like his work. They're somewhat oddly sited in that there is a wall across the church in front of them that separates that end off like a Lady Chapel, and bisects the space. It means that even from the other end of the church, you don't get a full view of the glass, whereas you'd think they should illuminate the whole building. From the other side you can enjoy the glass and get fairly close. However Chagall isn't really my thing, and the way in which the rest of the building felt almost abandoned mean that the place seemed more like a gallery than a church. Out again, and off to St Peters Kirche, which has the largest clock face in Europe - and it really is big! Inside is a very peaceful and calm place a bit like a ballroom, the most "religious" feeling of the three to my mind. We sat and listened to the organist practising for that night's concert and enjoyed it. Close
Written by Tolik on 30 Jul, 2002
Swiss Federal Railways SBB offers a range of passes to suit the travel requirements of most visitors. The Swiss Pass entitles the holder to unlimited travel for 4, 8 or 15, 22 days or one month of railway, boat and postal bus networks and…Read More
Swiss Federal Railways SBB offers a range of passes to suit the travel requirements of most visitors. The Swiss Pass entitles the holder to unlimited travel for 4, 8 or 15, 22 days or one month of railway, boat and postal bus networks and on the municipal transport system of 40+ cities and towns. Prices range from a 4-day 2nd class pass at $160 to one month 1st class $535. They also offer 1st and 2nd class Saver passes (2 or more people traveling together – 15% discount), and 1st and 2nd class Youth passes. These passes also entitle the holders to a reduction of 25% on many mountain railways and aerial lifts.
The Swiss Flexipass is ideal for those wanting to walk or cycle from a few centers: choose any 3 days (or 4, 5, 6, 8) within 1 month and enjoy the same benefits as the Swiss Pass holder ($132 - $424).
The Swiss Card is valid for one month and provides a round-trip ticket from the border point or airport to any Swiss resort (each direction completed in one day). It gives the holder unlimited ½ fare trips on all other trains, bus and steamer services ($155 1st class, $110 2nd class).
Swiss Transfer Ticket is good for the winter sports travelers who will be likely to obtain a ski pass covering local transport, but would not wish to go further afield. It costs $118 1st class, $76 2nd class.
The Swiss Family Card allows children under 16 to travel free with their parents (parents must have a pass). It is available for 20SF per child at Swiss train stations, but you can get it free when you bought an adult Swiss Pass, Swiss Card or Swiss Transfer Ticked outside Switzerland. Kids 6 – 15 not accompanied by parent are ½ of single adult fare.
The Half-Fare Travel Card, sold at Swiss train stations, gives you 50% off on all national and private trains, postal buses, lifts and steamers for 95SF a month.
We usually buy our train passes from Rick Steves through his "Europe Through the Back Door", ricksteves.com .
In this case, you can also buy the Swiss passes directly from SBB here .
Of great value to travelers is the facility to send luggage from all staffed stations to any other station, where it will be kept until the appropriate numbered form is presented (about $10 apiece). We arrived to Zürich, sent our luggage to Lausanne (our hub in Switzerland), and had our peace of mind during the day.
On the return, your suitcases can be sent from one of 125 Fly-Rail stations to the airport at home.
Another facility for the return journey is the opportunity to rail passengers to check in up to 24 hours before take-off and reserve a seat long before other passengers. To obtain a boarding pass, you need to show your train ticket, airline ticket and passport. It works for some 20 stations including Basel, Bern, Davos, Fribourg, Geneva, Interlaken, Lausanne, Montreux and Zürich.
Written by LenR on 12 Jun, 2004
Church spires are a feature of Zurich and the souring Fraumunster is the most delicate. The church was established in the 13th century on a site that had been a convent for noblewomen since 853. The present church, however, has been modernized. From the outside,…Read More
Church spires are a feature of Zurich and the souring Fraumunster is the most delicate. The church was established in the 13th century on a site that had been a convent for noblewomen since 853. The present church, however, has been modernized. From the outside, the building looks fairly unassuming but once inside, the world-famous modernistic stained-glass windows by Russian-born Marc Chagall spring into life. Some of the other windows were designed by Augusto Giacometti.
Protestant mass in German is held on Sunday morning. The church is open Monday to Saturday from 9am-6pm during May-September and after mass on Sunday. During other months, hours may be shorter and it has been known to close for lunch. Guided tours are available. It is well worth a visit and the Romanesque choir is a perfect spot for meditation.
St Peter’s church is nearby. This is Zurich’s oldest parish church dating from the early 13th century. A church has been on this site since the 9th century. The present building’s claim to fame is the enormous clock face on the spire. It is claimed to be the largest in Europe. The building has been extensive changed over the years and you can see this in the architecture. The basement of the tower is the original Romanesque, but the tower was rebuilt and extended in 1534 when the clock was added and the nave was rebuilt in 1705.
There are services here on Sunday and the church has a tradition as a site for inexpensive classical concerts. The building is open to the public Monday to Saturday from 8am-6pm. While the interior is interesting, it is really the exterior that calls out for that photograph.
When in this area, take the time to visit Lindenhof. This is a delightful park on a hill where the settlement that is now Zurich began as a fortress that protected the Roman river crossing. There are excellent views of the old town on the other side of the River Limmat. Also close by is the famous Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most elegant and exclusive shopping streets. Even if you are not buying, many will be interested in the spectacular window displays.
Contact details: Fraumunsterplatz; St Peterstrasse
Tel: 261 5311(Fraumunster)
This Romanesque and Gothic cathedral is the city’s most famous landmark and it utterly dominates the landscape of the hip and trendy Niederdorf area. It was started in the 12th century on the site of a Carolingian church. The cathedral is dedicated to the patron…Read More
This Romanesque and Gothic cathedral is the city’s most famous landmark and it utterly dominates the landscape of the hip and trendy Niederdorf area. It was started in the 12th century on the site of a Carolingian church. The cathedral is dedicated to the patron saints of Zurich: Felix, Regula and Exuperantius who in the 3rd century attempted to convert the town to Christianity. For their trouble they were plunged into boiling oil then beheaded. It is said they were buried on the cathedral site.
Most of the building you now see is from the 15th century. The unique twin towers were topped with octagonal domes in the 17th century after a fire had almost destroyed them. There are some sculptures dating from the 12th century. The choir contains stained-glass windows completed in 1932 by Augusto Giacometti.
The cathedral was once the parish church of Huldrych Zwingli, one of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation. He urged priests to take wives and attacked the "worship of idols" and the Roman mass. In accordance with Zwingli’s beliefs, the present Grossmunster is austere, stripped of the heavy ornamentation found in many Roman Catholic cathedrals. Walking through the deceptively large interior it is easy to imagine Zwingli preaching his austere message from the pulpit.
The attractions for visitors are the basic building, the 15th century statue of Charlemagne in the crypt, the stained-glass windows, the ornate bronze doors and the view from the towers. When you visit, don’t miss the chance to wind your way up the tiny spiral staircase to the tower viewing point. The city spreads out before you and down below you look on roof gardens. It is a great place for some memorable photographs. Today the complex houses the theological faculty of the University of Zurich. Church services are held on Sunday mornings.
Don’t miss the nearby guildhalls on Limmat-quai, several of which are now fine restaurants. A meal here can be both a visual and gastronomic treat. Even if you don’t plan to eat, pop in for a quick look to see the grand décor. We used the excuse of wanting to look at the menu on several occasions to great effect.
Grossmunsterplatz and Zwingliplatz, Old Town
Tel: 261 5311/ 252 5949
Entry: cathedral – free, towers – CHF3
Open: March – October 9am – 6pm, November – February 10am – 4pm.
Written by Sierra on 01 Nov, 2005
continued from part 1You can see the striking twin spires of the Grossmünster rising above the city nearly everywhere in the city. According to legend, Charlemagne had hunted a stag all the way from Aachen near Köln (Germany) – quite a distance – when the…Read More
continued from part 1You can see the striking twin spires of the Grossmünster rising above the city nearly everywhere in the city. According to legend, Charlemagne had hunted a stag all the way from Aachen near Köln (Germany) – quite a distance – when the stag went down upon its knees, sensing the graves of the saints Felix and Regula, who had been executed at the site of the Wasserkirche [built 1479-84), just below Grossmünster’s present-day site, on the banks of the Limmat. So, in their honor, he founded a church here, some time between 770 and 810 AD. The current church was begun around 1100, with the towers being finished in the late 1400s. If you visit, be sure to visit the crypt as well; it is small, but has a few interesting artifacts.
The stretch of the Limmatquai that runs below the cathedral is home to a number of guild halls. Many of these buildings now house restaurants and boutiques, including Starbucks. Although Starbucks has a small toehold in Switzerland, mainly in Zürich, it has not grown as fast here as in other countries; their coffee products are regarded as expensive. A small coffee is CHF3.60 [$2.75], and Frappucinos start at CHF6.80 [$5.25]. Like their southern neighbors, the Italians, many Swiss prefer an espresso or a hot chocolate. However, if you are young and hip, the Starbucks at Limmatquai 4 is a popular hangout, particularly in the evenings; every time I walked by or stopped in, the store was packed.
From the Limmatquai , it is a short walk to the southeast to the Theaterstrasse and the world-famous Opernhaüs Zürich, where you can see outstanding opera and ballet performances. Productions sell out well in advance, but there are a limited number of returns available. The Zürich opera hosts approximately 15 premières per year, as well as revivals. The Zürcher Festspiele (Zürich Festival) brings the Opera company to public venues all over the city, and is a highlight of the Zürich summer. The 2006 Festspiele will be held June 16-July 9. If you are a fan of architecture, it is worth a look at the building (1891), done is the lovely neo-Baroque style, designed by Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Felliner.
East of the Opernhaüs, a few minutes’ walk up the Rämistrasse, is the Kunsthaus, Switzerland’s best art museum, located at Heimplatz 1. Exhibits range from medieval masters to Dadaists, Warhol to Chagall, Rubens to Van Gogh and Füssli – the collection is extensive, covering various major art movements, including of course a sizeable collection of major Swiss artists. If you love art, as I do, this is a "must-see" stop on the Zürich art scene. The museum opened in 1910; the building has been undergoing renovations, but should be complete by the end of 2005. (closed Mondays).
South of the Opera, the Utoquai makes a lovely stroll along the eastern shores of the Zürichsee. About half a kilometer past the Opera, you come to the Zürichhorn Park, which has a variety of sculptures from modern artists. Just north of the park is the Museum Bellerive, an outstanding museum dedicated to the applied arts, including the largest collection of international arts and crafts in Switzerland. For me, this was my favorite museum in the city, well worth a visit.
South of the Park, you can follow the "Goldküste" (Gold Coast), which is lined with beautiful old townhouses. If you’re a fan of Tina Turner, you might find it interesting that she has called this section of Zürich home since 1986.
Heading west from the Opera House, you cross the Quaibrücke to the Bürkliplatz, where you will find a number of tram lines intersect, and the dock from where many lake tours depart from. During the warmer months, there is a farmer’s market here. There is also a small park here that has a statue of Ganymede. I’m told that Ganymede is a bit of an unofficial icon for the summer Street Parade, which takes place in August, and has, in recent years, attracted as many as a million participants.
Here, too, is the start of the Bahnhofstrasse, Zürich’s premiere shopping address, which stretches approximately a kilometer north to the Bahnhof. It’s a great place to window shop (or, if you have the means, to do some serious shopping), with many top European designer names represented here. I loved checking out the various displays, with of course a visit to the city’s top chocolate makers, Sprüngli.
From the Bahnhofstrasse, it’s also possible to head east along the Poststrasse to the Fraümünster, sister church for the Grossmünster. The Fraümünster’s history goes back to 853. One of the most notable features of the church is the presbytery, which is adorned with five famous Chagall windows telling major stories of the Bible.
I found Zürich to be vibrant, clean, energetic, and friendly. Most Swiss speak at least two languages; in Zürich, as in about 65% of the country, German is the local tongue. I admit my German is pretty limited, but I had few problems getting around the city or making requests at merchants.
One of the best things about Zürich – and Switzerland in general – is that a single woman visitor can feel very safe here, not just walking around a city or moving between destinations, but also going out at night, visiting a club, or traveling alone. The Swiss pride themselves on the safety and low crime rates of their nation – in fact, it’s one of the many reasons that Zürich has repeatedly been voted to have the best standards of living in the world. As a traveler, it’s reassuring, helping one to relax and enjoy things more. It should be noted, however, that Switzerland is not crime-free; you should, of course, follow the same sensible precautions you would anywhere: pay attention to your surroundings, keep your money and passport secure, etc.
Shopping hours vary; most places are open 9am – 6:30pm weekdays, 10am-5pm Saturdays, with most stores closed Sundays. Some close for lunch, some places open later; if you have a particular store in mind, it would be a good idea to call ahead and check their hours. If you’re desperate for shopping on Sunday, visit the ShopVille at the Hauptbahnhof, or the publicly-accessible mall at the airport; many Swiss brand retailers such as Sprüngli have outlets at these locations – and in fact, the railway/airport stores have longer hours than most retail locations.
Many museums, on the other hand, are not open on Monday, although hours vary wildly from one to the next. If you have your heart set on a museum or exhibit, be sure to check their hours. When you buy your ZürichCARD, the guide it comes with gives details on all the operating hours - not to mention that the ZürichCARD covers admissions for most museums in town!
In contrast to both of these, restaurants are usually open 11am until 11pm or later, with many closing between 4-6pm. (hours vary). It’s wonderful to go out in the late evening in Zürich to find the city vibrant and active. In fact, Zürich’s nightlife scene gets started late, with most clubs not opening until 10pm, and staying open until the wee dark hours of the morning (often, 4am!).
Zürich’s vibrant young attitude and high standard of living make this a great place to visit. Next time I visit, I will definitely spend more time here, exploring the city and enjoying all it has to offer!