Zurich, Switzerland Cityscape

According to naturegnosis, Zurich, is the capital of the Swiss canton of Zurich, largest city in Switzerland and the economic center of the country, at the northern end of Lake Zurich and on both sides of the Limmat flowing from it, 406 m above sea level, (2018) 415 400 residents, forms the Zurich district (88 km 2); 1.4 million people live in the agglomeration of Zurich.


In the old town on the right of the Limmat lies the main church of the city, the Großmünster, a three-aisled Romanesque twin tower complex (11th-13th centuries). On the south tower there is a seated figure of Charlemagne from the Parlerkreis (copy; original, around 1450/70, in the crypt), the north portal (around 1180 in the Lombard style) is characterized by rich ornamentation; in the hall crypt (around 1100) there are wall paintings (end of the 15th century).

The Wasserkirche on the banks of the Limmat is a simple late Gothic building (1479–84) with glass paintings in the choir windows by Augusto Giacometti; the Helmhaus (1791–94) was added on the north side. To the left of the Limmat is the Fraumünster (9th – 13th century, nave 14th century), a three-aisled pillar basilica with a Romanesque choir and choir flank towers (the south tower was cut off in the 18th century) and a late Gothic rood screen (1469/70); in the north transept there is a glass painting by Giacometti, in the choir and in the south transept there is a window by M. Chagall. Also to the left of the Limmat is Sankt Peter (first mentioned in 857) with its dominant late Romanesque choir tower (early 13th century), the nave was renovated in 1705/06 in the baroque style.

The free-standing town hall on the right bank of the Limmat is a strict baroque building (1694–98), with a magnificent stucco decoration in the ballroom. The guild houses »Zur Saffran« (1719–23), »Zur Zimmerleuten« (1708) and the society house »Zum Rüden« (1659–62) are also located on the Limmatquai; near the Fraumünster are the guild houses “Zur Waag” (1636/37) and “Zur Meise” (1752–57), the most magnificent rococo building in the city (today part of the ceramics collection of the Swiss National Museum).

The preacher’s church, mentioned in 1231 and completed in 1269, is structurally connected to the central library (1915–17, extension 1991–94); their Gothic choir was profaned in 1524. The most important classical church is the Neumünster (1836–39) with a front tower. The Villa Wesendonck (1853–57, today Museum Rietberg) is an example of late classicist architecture. An example of historicism in Switzerland is the building of the ETHZ (1858–64), based on designs by G. Semper (he also designed the observatory, 1861-64). The University (1911–14) of K. C. Moser is in the neighborhoodwho built the Kunsthaus from 1907-10. The main train station (1865–71) presents itself as a mighty hall structure, the main facade of which forms the end of the Bahnhofstrasse, which is also laid out at the same time.

Examples of New Building are the Werkbundsiedlung Neubühl (1930–32), the applied arts museum and school of Adolf Steger (* 1888, † 1939) and Karl Egender (* 1897, † 1969; 1931–33) and the Doldertal apartment buildings by M. Breuer and A. Roth (1935-36). In 1967, Le Corbusier built the Heidi Weber House (today Center Le Corbusier) in the park on the eastern shore of the lake. Contemporary architecture will include through buildings by E. Gisel (World Trade Center, opened 1995), S. Calatrava (Stadelhofen train station, 1983–84; University Law Library, opened 2004), Mario Campi (* 1936, † 2011; Modehaus Feldpausch, 1994), Marcel Ferrier (* 1951; new building of the Greek Orthodox Church on Letten, inaugurated in 1995), the Viennese architectural office Ortner & Ortner (culture and work center »Schiffbau«, 2000) and Theo Hotz (* 1928, † 2018; Regina-Kägi-Hof, 2000–01).


In the 2nd century a Roman settlement and customs post (Statio Turicensis) arose on older settlements from the Neolithic, Bronze, Hallstatt and La Tène periods, and in the 4th century a Roman fort on today’s Lindenhof Century gave way to an Alemannic settlement. In the 9th century, a royal palace was laid out on the Lindenhof, at the same time a merchant settlement was established, which was first documented in 929 as Turicina civitas. Thanks to its convenient location, it developed quickly. In 1098 the Zähringer received shares in the Reichsvogtei over Zurich. With its extinction, the city became imperial in 1218. Around 1280, the »Richtebrief« was the oldest codification of the city’s laws, which was expanded in 1304.

The first half of the 14th century saw the first blossoming of literature and art (J. Hadloub; Manessian manuscript). With the overthrow of the patrician council in 1336, the guild constitution, which existed until 1798, was introduced. In 1351 Zurich joined the Swiss Confederation. The Swiss Reformation began in Zurich (U. Zwingli, H. Bullinger). The local textile industry (silk processing was introduced in Zurich in 1555) received new impetus from the influx of French religious refugees at the end of the 17th century and expanded rapidly. The 18th century was a time of cultural prosperity for the city. Here, inter alia. J. J. Bodmer, J. J. Scheuchzer, J. J. Breitinger, S. Gessner, J. K. Lavater. In the 19th and 20th centuries, Zurich developed into a modern city. The population rose through incorporations from 27,644 (1888) to 107,400 (1893) and 313,000 (1934); the area increased from 1.7 km 2 to 88 km 2. At the same time Zurich showed itself to be one of the centers of Swiss intellectual life (G. Keller, C. F. Meyer, A. Böcklin, later M. Frisch and others); at the same time, numerous emigrants shaped the intellectual life of the city (R. Wagner, J. Joyce, E. Canetti among others).

Zurich, Switzerland Cityscape