With over 400,000 inhabitants Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland. It is located at the northern end of the 27 km (17miles) long Lake Zurich. Although Zurich only covers an area of 92 sq km (35 sq miles), this "small city" has a huge variety of culture, history, sights and events. With the world-famous banking sector, insurance companies, the machinery and textile industry, commerce, industry and tourism, Zurich is not only Switzerland's most important commercial and economic center, but also one of the leading international cities.
At the outflow of Lake Zurich, the first settlers settled down 7,000 years ago. In the year around 57/58 B.C., the Romans came to Zurich and founded the customs station Turicum. This customs station it today the well-known Lindenhof.
Charlemagne is said to have rediscovered the graves of the Zurich city patrons Felix and Regula in the 8th century, when his horse suddenly kneeled down on its journey to pay tribute to the graves of the saints. Thereupon the church Grossmuenster was founded in honour of the saints.
King Ludwig the German, the grandson of Charlemagne, donated a convent to his daughter Hildegard in 853 A.D. - the Fraumuenster Monastery was founded.
The new convent was the home for many princesses from all over Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. At that time Zurich became more and more an important market place with trade connections from northern Italy to Holland.
In 1351, 60 years after the founding of the Swiss Confederation, Zurich became the sixth canton to become part of the confederation of states.
In the 16th century Huldrych Zwingli, priest at Grossmuenster, spread the Reformation in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Many religious refugees came to Zurich after the Reformation. As a result the city developed into a commercial centre.
In the course of industrialization in the late 18th and 19th centuries Zurich developed from the artisan city to the centre of the machine industry. Today restaurants, bars, galleries and shops can be found in the former factory halls.
Zurich is located in the moderate temperate zone. The temperatures vary a lot over the four seasons. On hot summer days temperatures can rise above 30°C (86°F) and in winter time fall under the freezing point.
Zurich is easily accessible by all kinds of public transport. The international airport Zurich-Kloten is only 11 km (6.8miles) away from the city centre and can be reached by train within 10 minutes. The main train station is in the heart of the city. There are connections to various destinations in Switzerland and also to many major European cities.
Places to visit/Activities
There are many interesting places in Zurich, which are worth a visit. Highly recommended are a boat trip on Lake Zurich, strolling along the lakeshore or in the streets of the city. There are also beautiful churches and over 25 museums. Below is a brief description of the city's most famous "Must See's.
The Opernhaus (opera house) was built in 1890/91 by the Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer. The neo-baroque auditorium (1100 seats) has been completely preserved and equipped with the newest stage technology. The world-famous performances such as operas, ballets and symphony concerts are performed regularly from late August to early July.
The largest and most famous theatre in Zurich, the Schauspielhaus, attracted attention during the Second World War. It was the only German-speaking theatre which offered a stage to numerous actors from the countries marked by National Socialism. Many famous actors and actresses including Peter Lorre, Therese Giehse and the lyricist Bertolt Brecht stayed in Zurich during this time. The director Oskar Wälterlin and Kurt Hirschfeld discovered in the 50’s the still completely unknown Max Frisch and Friedrich Dürrenmatt (famous Swiss writer). Many of their pieces were premiered in the Schauspielhaus.
In 2002 and 2003 the Zurich Schauspielhaus was awarded as "Theatre of the Year" under its director Christoph Marthaler. Since September 2000 the theatre has three stages - the traditional Haus am Pfauen and two flexibly playable theatre spaces - the Schiffbauhalle and the Box im Schiffbau.
Around the year 1500 B.C. the colonization of the hill range, on the left side of the Limmat was detected. This square, in the oldest core of the city of Zurich, served as a military base and customs post. In 1747 a Roman tombstone was found and therefore the past history of this place was proved. The square served as a meeting place for the inhabitants of Zurich. For example, in 1798 at the Lindenhof the oath was sworn on the Helvetic Constitution. To this day the place is planted with lime trees. From this beautiful place you have a fantastic view over the city.
The Zurich Zoo is located above the Zurichberg. The Masoala Rainforest Hall, the main attraction of the zoo and also unique in Europe, attracts many visitors. In addition 200 different species from Africa, Asia and South America live in the zoo and can be visited.
The Grossmuenster, with its unique twin towers, is the landmark of the city of Zurich. Legend has it that the church was built on the tombs of the patron saints Felix and Regula.
The church became the starting point of the German-Swiss Reformation under Huldrych Zwingli.
In the Grossmuenster there are a lot of beautiful highlights, such as the stained-glass window by Sigmar Polke, the choir windows by Augusto Giacometti, bronze doors by Otto Münch and the Reformation Museum in the cloister.
In addition to the Grossmuenster, the Fraumuenster is one of the landmarks of the city of Zurich. King Ludwig the German, founded the church with convent in 853 A.D.. From then on, women of the European aristocracy inhabited the monastery.
Significant components are the Romanesque choir and the high-vaulted transept. Augusto Giacometti made the north windows in the transept, Marc Chagall designed the five-part window cycle in the choir and the rosette in the south transept. In addition, there is a cycle of frescoes by Paul Bodmer in the cloister.
St. Peter is the oldest church in Zurich. In the year 1345 the first mayor Rudolf Brun acquired the church with all duties and rights. His grave and a monument of mayor Rudolf Brun can still be found on the outer wall of the tower. The church tower served as a fire station until 1911.
The church has the largest clock face in Europe and was installed in 1534. The clock face has a diameter of 8.7 m (285 ft). There are five bells from 1880 in the tower - the biggest one weighs 6'000 kg (13’227 lbs) without a clapper.
Hotels in Zurich
From 880 reviews
In the heart of Zurich's centre, the smoke-free Hotel Helmhaus which is rich of tradition awaits you with style. The 24 renovated rooms, some with lake view or bed sofa, offer complimentary Wi-fi Internet.
From 398 reviews
The Hotel Conti is 15 minutes away from Zurich and from the airport. 68 single and double rooms as well as three suites, two restaurants, a bar and the perfect infrastructure for banquets for up to 80 people are provided.
From 767 reviews
The Hotel Belvoir is located in a quiet area - with a magnificent view over the Lake of Zurich from each room and in easy reach of both airport and city centre. It offers a wide range of conference rooms and an own wellness area.
From 547 reviews
The Hotel Geroldswil in the greenery of the suburban of Zurich, 15 minutes from the centre, is ideal for meetings for up to 550 persons and also for leisure, with 3 restaurants, a bar and free entrance to the indoor swimming pool.
From 823 reviews
In Dietikon, close to train station which is only 15 minutes away from Zurich centre, you find the Hotel Sommerau-Ticino with comfortable and renovated rooms, 3 restaurants, a bar and meeting rooms for conferences and banquets.
From 698 reviews
Only 10 minutes away from Zurich city centre you find the Hotel Sedartis, few steps to the Lake of Zurich. A restaurant with traditional, local dishes, Edo Bar/Lounge, an indoor golf installation and modern meeting facilities await you.
From 1037 reviews
The friendly Hotel Seegarten in Zurich with its 28 individually appointed rooms, is situated in the fashionable and attractive Seefeld district. The terracotta and wood floors as well as the warm colours give it a genial, southern ambiance.