Zurich, known mostly as a business center, is actually a suprisingly pleasant place to
spend a couple of days as a tourist. The center of town is divided by the Limmat River
(shown here) which runs into Lake Zurich (the Zurichzee). The church featured in this
photo is the Fraumunster. In medieval times the upper classes of Zurich attended church
here while the rest of the populace was stuck going to the grossmunster.
Maybe that wasn't so bad though. These are the twin towers of the grossmunster. For
a small fee you can climb to the top for a nice view of the city. It's quite a climb
though featuring a tight stone spiral staircase followed by a wider wooden one to the
top. Just above the building in the foreground of this photo you'll see a statue with a
gold crown and scepter. That is a reproduction of the original statue of Charlemagne.
The original can be seen in the crypt of the cathedral.
Charlemagne founded this church but the Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli popularized it in the
16th century. That's more history than you might need but we just love the name Ulrich Zwingli
and had to work it into this webpage.
This is the view from the tower of the grossmunster looking out across Zurich. The
large stately looking buildings on the hill to the right make up part of the University
of Zurich. It is actually very easy to get around Zurich thanks to a tremendously
detailed system of trams, assuming you can figure out the map.
Almost all the trams seem to converge on the Bahnhof (train station). Zurich's train station
is quite impressive to see. Besides the almost 20 tram lines and who knows how many train
lines that run through it, there is a vast underground mall as well. In Zurich, as well as
the rest of Switzerland, nearly every shop closes at 6:30 PM. After that time activity is
mostly limited to restaurants and nightclubs which seem fairly dispersed in Zurich. The
exception would be the bahnhof which was bustling with activity every time we were near it.
There is also a Sprungli store there (and on nearly every corner in Zurich). Sprungli is a
chain of chocolate stores associated with Lindt (based in Zurich) and even if you're not a
big chocolate fan, it's worth a stroll through one of their stores.
This is the west bank of the river. In the top center of this photo you can see a raised
platform with a bunch of trees on it. This is the Lindenhof which is where the Romans chose
to place the city that eventually evolved into Zurich. Today it is a park of sorts, with gravel
instead of grass and some very large chess sets.
There's a certain stereotype about Switzerland and clocks, and there's a definite factual
basis behind the stereotype. This is the clock tower of St. Peter's. It features the largest
clock face in Europe. No really, it says this nearly everywhere so we think it really is
true. Either way, it's big but it doesn't really stand out because there is approximately one
large clock face per every three residents in Switzerland. Despite the precision and workmanship
that Swiss watches are known for, this has got to be the best country in the world to forget your
watch in. You will never have difficulty in determining the time. While learning some German
before this trip we actually studied the lesson on telling time which is absolutely useless in
Switzerland. No one will ever ask you what time it is, and you will never need to ask anyone else.
This castle-like building houses the Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, also known as the
Swiss National Museum. The castle is quite large, and the museum is just as large. It
covers every aspect of Swiss life from medieval furnishings and currency to arms, maps,
tapestries, animals, paintings, stained glass, regional costumes, toys, shoes, wine-making,
religion,and of course, cowbells. But wait! There's more! There is a painstakingly detailed
scale model of a medieval battle between Bern and Burgundy. It is so large that they had to put
magnifying scopes around the edges of it so you can see into the middle. If you're trying
to come to grips with the entire history of Switzerland in one afternoon, this is definately
the place to go.