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Zurich: one of the cities with the highest quality of life

Zurich is the main city in Switzerland, as well as being the capital of the canton of the same name. The city, which has 370,000 inhabitants that exceed one million with the urban area, is at an altitude of over 400 meters, at the northern limit of the lake of the same name, where the Limmat river leaves the lake itself. Located at the crossroads of major rail and road communication routes, Zurich is the country’s largest commercial, industrial, financial and cultural center. In recent years, according to some research, Zurich has been declared the city with the best quality of life in the world.

In ancient times it was a small Celtic-Roman center (Turicum). The city developed only in the Carolingian era. And it played an important role between the twelfth and fifteenth centuries, when it became a free municipality, coming to control a vast territory. In 1450 it entered the Swiss Confederation and was with Bern the most important center of the Confederation.

WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF ZURICH

RELIGIOUS BUILDINGS

The historic city center of Zurich is excellently preserved. It is located on the Limmat shore and boasts numerous attractions. The most notable monument in the city is the Grossmünster (the ancient cathedral), built around 1100, while the towers are Gothic. Inside the church are the Romanesque crypt, the Romanesque capitals in the church and in the via crucis, the choir windows made by Augusto Giacometti (1932), the bronze doors by Otto Münch (1935 and 1950), and the museum of the Protestant reform in the via crucis.

The Fraumünster is a church with a female convent. The Romanesque choir and the central nave with its high vaults are interesting. Inside there is a large organ with 5,793 pipes (from 1953), but the main attraction of the church is the colorful stained glass windows: the north window in the transverse nave is the work of Augusto Giacometti, while the cycle of stained glass windows in the choir (1945) and the rosette in the southern transverse nave (1978) are works by Marc Chagall.

The Peterskirche, is the oldest church in the city, dates back to before the 9th century. Today’s building has a Baroque nave from the early 18th century. The church houses a choir from the early 13th century. The late Romanesque-Gothic bell tower of the church has a clock with a diameter of 8.7 meters, which is the tower clock with the largest dial in Europe. Among the religious buildings are the Dominican Church Predigerkirche of the thirteenth century but rebuilt in the Baroque period and the late Gothic Wasserkirche of the fifteenth century.

THE CIVIL BUILDINGS

Among the civil buildings to remember is the Rathaus (Town Hall), a Baroque construction from 1694-1698. Finally, many bourgeois houses from the XV-XVIII centuries and the buildings that housed the guilds such as the Rüden house (Gothic) and the zur Meise house (Rococo) are very characteristic. The Zurich Opera House, a neo-baroque building from 1891, was the first opera house in Europe to be illuminated with electric light.

THE STREET OF SHOPPING

Bahnhofstrasse (Station Street) is the way from the central station to Lake Zurich. It crosses the Paradeplatz, and is known for shopping. There are elegant fashion shops, shopping centers, shoe, fur, accessories, jewelry and watches, banks, pastry shops. Note for shopping is also the area of Niederdorf with pedestrian areas and many shops hidden in small alleys that invite you to shop. In the evening, the Niederdorf area, with all its bars, taverns and street artists, turns into the entertainment district of the city.

Another place not to be missed for shopping is the area of Storchengasse / Strehlgasse, the heart of the old center of Zurich. While Schipfe is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Zurich. This ancient district now houses numerous craft shops, and is an ideal place for a stop, for shopping and for eating.

THE PARKS

The beautiful green park, Quaianlagen, located on the lower lake basin becomes a popular meeting place for citizens in the summer months. Finally, do not miss a visit to the Lindenhof, a panoramic belvedere with a wonderful view of the old city, here are the remains of a Roman customs station as well as the late Roman castle. In Zurich there is also the famous Le Corbusier house (Heidi Weber Haus), designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. It was initially built as a home, but today it houses an exhibition of modern art.

Around Zurich, an excursion not to be missed is the one to the Rhine Falls, which are located near Schaffhausen (50 km from Zurich). They are the largest waterfalls in Europe, 150 meters wide and 23 meters high. These waterfalls have an average flow of 700 cubic meters of water per second. Interesting is the excursion along Lake Zurich (Zürichsee), which can be completed with a visit to Rapperswil Castle and its Polish Museum, an exhibition that illustrates Poland’s contribution to Western culture.

WHAT TO SEE: THE MUSEUMS OF ZURICH

THE MUSEUM OF ART

Zurich houses more than 50 museums. Among the most important museums in the city is undoubtedly the Kunsthaus Zürich (Museum of Art), it is one of the most important modern art museums in Europe. The main works of the museum include the largest collection of works by Edvard Munch outside Norway, important paintings by Picasso and the expressionists Kokoschka, Beckmann and Corinth. There is also a significant group of works by Claude Monet, Marc Chagall and an important photo gallery. The museum displays the most important collection of works by Alberto Giacometti, a Swiss surrealist sculptor. There are also medieval sculptures and altarpieces, Flemish painting, Italian Baroque painting, and Swiss art of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with works by the best known artists such as Johann Heinrich Fuseli and Ferdinand Hodler. Modern artistic trends are represented by works by Rothko, Merz, Twombly, Beuys, Bacon and Baselitz.

THE SWISS NATIONAL MUSEUM

The Swiss National Museum (Schweizerisches Landemuseum), houses the largest historical-cultural collection in Switzerland, from prehistory to the present day. There are works of sacred and profane art from the Middle Ages to the 15th and 16th centuries. 16th and 17th century handicrafts such as watches and jewelery. Stained glass windows, fabrics, traditional costumes, coats of arms and Renaissance furniture. There are reconstructions of rooms from the 15th and 16th centuries. There are furniture, tapestries, paintings, silverware and large tiled stoves. An important collection of weapons and armor from the 9th to the 20th century. Finally, there are also numerous finds from prehistoric and Roman Switzerland.

IMPRESSIONIST AND MODERN ART

The E.G. Foundation Collection Bührle (Stiftung Sammlung E. G. Bührle) is a collection mainly of impressionist and modern art of world importance. Works by Vincent Van Gogh, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Braque, Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Pierre Bonnard, Marc Chagall, Gustave Courbet, Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, Camille Pissarro, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Maurice Utrillo, Edouard Manet, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, etc. There are also works by well-known Dutch masters (Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn) and Venetians (Canaletto, Tintoretto, Tiepolo) and Gothic figurative art.

The Nordamerika Native Museum (NONAM), is a museum that collects the objects of common use, artistic and insightful objects of life of the American Indians and the Inuit (Eskimos). The Rietberg Museum (Museum Rietberg) houses art outside Europe, especially from India, China and Africa. An interesting museum is the Beyer Clock Museum (Uhrenmuseum Beyer Zurich), which houses a collection of antique clocks from the 16th to the 20th century.

For families, the Toy Museum – Depuoz Collection (Spielzeugmuseum Sammlung Depuoz) is also worth a visit, which displays period toys from the 18th to the 20th century. And also the Tin Figurine Museum (Zinnfiguren Museum Zürich), a small museum that illustrates the production of tin figurines in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The Kulturama Museum of Humanity (Kulturama Museum des Menschen), is an interdisciplinary educational museum, which documents and explains 600 million years of human and animal evolution, the museum also presents aspects of human biology and human cultural history. Among the many other museums we recommend: the Kunsthalle Zürich, the Ethnological Museum (Völkerkundemuseum) of the University of Zurich, the MoneyMuseum (museum of money and currency).

HOW TO MOVE: URBAN TRANSPORT IN ZURICH

The cheapest, and often the fastest, connections are via rail, bus, boat or cable car for public transport in Zurich (VBZ Verkehrsbetriebe Zürich). In the city there are 13 tram lines, 6 trolleybus lines and 18 bus lines. In addition there are 9 neighborhood buses and 2 funiculars, the Polybahn and the Seilbahn Rigiblick.

There are 32 other bus lines throughout the Zurich conurbation. The Swiss Federal Railways operate the S-Bahn service (abbreviation of Stadtschnellbahn, “urban fast railway”), which serves not only the city (with 13 stations within the city) but also the whole canton and partially the neighboring cantons.

In Zurich, all means of transport in the city can be used with a single ticket (ZVV Zürcher Verkehrsverbund fare network).

The climate of Zurich.

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