Zurich Tourist Attractions
Zurich (German spelling Zürich), Switzerland's largest city and capital of the canton of Zurich, is also the country's economic and cultural hub; but with all its bustling activity it is still one of the finest Swiss towns, with carefully cherished traditions and much to attract and interest the visitor.
The town lies at the lower northwestern end of Lake Zurich astride the river Limmat which flows out of the lake at this point, between the Uetliberg on the west and the Zürichberg on the east. It has both a University and the Federal College of Technology. Three of the five major Swiss banks have their head offices in the famous Bahnhofstrasse, one of the finest shopping streets in Europe. Zurich is also a great financial and industrial capital (mainly textiles, engineering and electrical equipment). In addition it is the country's leading tourist attraction, with about a million visitors a year. A fifth of the country's total national income is earned in Zurich.Zurich is also the most important focus of communications in Switzerland. It has the country's largest airport; its railroad station is on the great international through routes from Vienna and Munich to southern France and Spain and from Stuttgart to Milan; and a number of highways meet at the city. The highways all end, however, at the city boundary, since the citizens of Zurich - who have a large say in the matter - have been unable to agree on the line of an urban expressway. As a result, all through traffic has to find its way through the city, which can be very time-consuming. The suburban railroad was completed in 1994.The city of Zurich has a total area of 92 sq. km/36 sq. mi. The population in 1892, before the incorporation of suburban communes, was 87,400. In 1960 the population of the enlarged city had risen to 440,170 - its highest point - but by 1987 it had fallen to 353,000 (840,320 for the whole urban area). Less than half the resident population belong to the canton of Zurich. Until the end of the 18th C. the population of Zurich was almost entirely Protestant but by 1979 the proportion of Roman Catholics had reached almost 40%, giving Zurich the largest number of Catholics of any town in Switzerland.Since 1830 Zurich has been capital of the canton of Zurich, the seventh largest of the Swiss cantons in terms of area (1,729 sq. km/668 sq. mi) and the largest of them all in terms of population (1,131,000 (1987)). Situated in the Swiss Mittelland, it has a green and gentle landscape, reaching its lowest point in the Rhine valley (330 m/1,083ft) and its highest in the Schnebelhorn (1,292 m/4,239ft). It has much to offer the visitor, with its charming little towns and neat villages, its beautiful countryside and well-kept vineyards.The earliest traces of human occupation on the site of Zurich were a Neolithic settlement excavated on the Bauschänzli, the little island in the River Limmat. The Roman fortified settlement of Turicum was established on the Lindenhof, where there had been a Roman military station as early as 15 BC. According to the legendary story the town's patron saints Felix and Regula fled to Zurich with the Theban Legion and were beheaded there; their remains were preserved in the Grossmünster (begun not later than the ninth C.). The works of Hartmann von er Aue and the poems by other medieval minnesingers preserved in the Manesse Manuscript (written in Zurich but now in the University Library of Heidelberg) are a reminder of the great days of chivalry. The development of Zurich into a city state was given a considerable stimulus when the guilds obtained equal rights with the nobility after an assault on the Town Hall in 1336 and, in 1351, it became a member of the Confederation. In 1523 Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) established the Reformation in Switzerland and made Zurich one of the great cities of the Reformed faith, ranking equally with Wittenberg and Geneva. The town rose to prosperity through its silk and cotton industries; but when a federal state was established in the 19th C. the status of capital passed from Zurich to Berne. In the 18th C. Zurich became influential in intellectual life, with such figures as the theologian Johann Caspar Lavater, the educationalist Heinrich Pestalozzi, the great scholar Johann Jakob Bodmer and the writer Salomon Gessner. During the 19th and 20th C. the town continued to be a pivotal point of liberal thought, and among the notable personalities who stayed here were Gottfried Keller, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, Georg Büchner, August Bebel, Lenin, James Joyce, C. G. Jung, Ludwig Klages and Thomas Mann. In 1916 the Dadaist school was founded in Zurich. In 1980 and 1981 serious confrontations occurred between young people and police (including the occupation and clearance of a youth center). In June 1982 the autonomous Youth Center of Zurich was closed.One of Europe's most important newspapers, the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung", is published in Zurich. Founded in 1780 by Salomon Gessner, it now has an editorial staff of 100 and a circulation of some 145,000.The Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich is one of the most attractive streets in Europe for shopping. Here there are fashion houses, boutiques, department stores and specialist shops (especially jewelry, watches and clocks, shoes, furs and fashion accessories). Small boutiques and antique dealers can be found mainly in the old town to the south of the Lindenhof (Rennweg, Strehlgasse, Augustinergasse, St Petershof, Münsterhof) and north of the Grossmünster. The Limmatquai (right bank), with its fine guild houses, is also a favorite shopping street. Unusual articles and curiosities can be found in the side streets of the old town, in Oberdorf and Niederdorf, where there are many bars, cafes and restaurants. The Löwenstrasse district and the adjoining "Shopville" in the station subcourse is another popular shopping area. The pedestrian zone around the Oerlikon market place is only a few steps from the exhibition center. Local souvenirs are sold by the Schweizer Heimatwerk at Rudolf-Brun Bridge, Bahnhofstrasse 2, Rennweg 14 and at the airport. A large flea-market is held every Saturday between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the Bürkliplatz from May until October and many handmade and exotic articles are on sale at the Rosenmarkt curiosities market (Thur. 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.).Among the sports and recreational activities available in Zurich are sailing on Lake Zurich and boating on the Limmat. There are football stadia in Letzigrund and Hardturm, a covered stadium and a race-track in Oerlikon. The Allment indoor sports complex is in Zurich-Wiedikon. Other facilities include a swimming pool with wave-making equipment and an artificial ice-rink in Dolde. There are covered municipal swimming pools at the Silhporte and in Oerlikon.Zurich is a town for sightseeing on foot, since the principal places of interest are on both sides of the river Limmat and on the north shore of Lake Zurich.
More Zurich Pictures
Map of Zurich Attractions