Friday, April 13, 2012

Zürich, Switzerland

Zürich is located, in the north central part of Switzerland, at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich and 30 km (19 miles) north of the Alps.  With 390,000 people it is the country's largest city.  There are almost 2 million people in the metro area.

Lake Zürich
Originally it was called Turicum when it was founded by the Romans in 15 BC.  Today, it is one of the world's largest financial centers.  That may have something to do with the city always ranking so high on the list of the world's most expensive cities.

There are some nice buildings in the old town.  But the city is really known for its trio of interesting churches.

The Romanesque Großmünster church was first built around 820 AD.  According to legend it was originally commissioned by Charlemagne.  Construction on the present building began around ~1100 and it was inaugurated by ~1220.

The Fraumünster was founded in 853 AD.  The five stained glass windows in the abbey are by Marc Chagall and were installed in 1970.  Unfortunately, photography isn't allowed inside.  But take a look at the video below.

The current St. Peter's church was consecrated in 1706 as a Protestant church.  The clock face on the steeple has a diameter of 8.7 m (28.5 feet).  It's actually the largest church clock face in the world.

The Zürich Hauptbahnhof is the country's largest train station.

Since we were in Zürich on Easter Monday we got to experience Zwänzgerle.  It's a tradition where kids challenge adults to break their decorated Easter eggs with a 20-cent coin.  The kid holds out his or her egg and you try to break the egg by throwing your coin at it.  If the coin doesn't stick then the kid gets to keep your money.  If your coin gets stuck then you get to keep the egg and your money.  It's harder than it sounds but I only did it twice.  I did see one child loose his egg...he wasn't too happy about it either.

Here's a Rick Steves video from YouTube giving a bit more detail on Zürich.
©Rick Steves

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