A VERY PLANETARY TOP
The recreation spot par excellence for Zurichers, where they play sports and enjoy pleasant moments away from the asphalt, is the Üetliberg Mountain, the hill located to the west of the city and crowned by a sharp communications tower. Easily accessible, this 870-meter-high elevation also has an impressive observation deck offering spectacular views of the lake, the city and the surrounding area. Let´s get to know Zurich from the heights!
In summer, when there is still no snow, the Üetliberg hill is a great place to walk along any of its clearly marked hiking trails. This mountain also has some routes to be traveled by bicycle that delight the most adventurous and risky people, since they include downhill tracks. That is why we must be very careful not to walk along these special routes for cyclists... In Switzerland, the rules are always scrupulously respected and, in addition, cyclists do not expect to meet pedestrians on their way. But to avoid confusion, all paths are always very well marked and the no-pedestrian zones are clearly marked.
In autumn, the contrast of the colors of the deciduous trees with the blue of the lake makes this place a real paradise for photographers. And in winter, when the mountain is covered with snow, its trails become ideal tracks to be descended, like a toboggan, on sleds that can be rented in the little shops above. Spring in this mountain is also a delight... The growing grass, flowers and buds of its trees attract a great variety of animals that we can find on our way.
At the top of the hill there is a tower 30 meters high, and although the views from the top are quite similar to those found at the base, it is worth paying the small entrance fee and climbing its 100 steps to feel the fresh air of the height. At the top of the mountain there are also benches, a fountain, toilets and a hotel whose terrace offers a spectacular panoramic view. In this magical place, it often happens that the mist over the lake joins with the crests of the surrounding hills and the whole generates in the visitor an incredible feeling of unreality.
For everyone, but especially for children, in Üetliberg there is the so-called "path of the planets", a 6-kilometer route on which we will get an idea of the colossal magnitude of the solar system. This trail ends in Felsenegg, where you can take a streetcar back to Zurich. Along this trail there are several restaurants, but we prefer the idea of eating a sandwich on any of the benches that mark the trail, so we can enjoy a little more of its natural charm.
To get to Üetliberg, take streetcar number 10 in Zurich, get off at the last stop and then walk about 600 meters to reach the summit. The Üetliberg hill is a highly recommended visit where, in addition, during the clearest days, we can almost touch the Alps with our hands...
A DELICIOUS GOLDEN RECIPE
The city of Zurich has, among its population, a percentage of foreigners of around 25%, a rather high figure due to the fact that, in order to obtain Swiss nationality, it is not enough to be born in this country, but one must be "old Swiss", that is, a descendant of Swiss. But despite its high percentage of foreign population, Zurich has a great local culinary tradition based on local products and the caloric needs of inhabitants who, over the centuries, have lived with very low temperatures.
Within the local gastronomy, we can recommend dishes and products that are very typical in Zurich, such as fondue, raclette, oat soup, veal stew, chocolate, numerous liqueurs born from the need to warm up in the Alps, or even the famous muesli, which was created in Zurich to alleviate the nutritional needs of the patients in its hospitals. But we are going to emphasize a local recipe that is suitable for everyone. It can be enjoyed by vegetarians, vegans, people allergic to gluten or dairy products, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, vigilant Christians, even travelers in a hurry to visit everything... We are talking about rösti, a recipe that is also suitable for all budgets.
We do not know at what point in history, the peasant women of the canton of Zurich, who were responsible for cooking on the farms, decided to grate the potatoes they harvested in their fields, then knead the result and, finally, pass this dough through the pan, obtaining as a result a succulent potato cake that came to be called rösti. Of course, these women had an excellent idea and, without realizing it, they invented a delicacy that today is considered a national dish.
Rösti always looks very succulent and its potatoes, browned either in butter or olive oil, should always be eaten warm and crispy. Everyone can make their own variety of rösti, and it can be served with beef or other meats, vegetables, legumes or even fish from Swiss rivers or lakes. A combination that is all the rage is rösti accompanied by eggs and cheese, something that is very logical if we take into account that cheese is as vital for the Swiss as rice is for the Chinese, or bread for the Spanish.
You will find rösti in all the local restaurants, and if you prefer, you can also make it at home, because the recipe is very simple! You can also buy ready-made rösti in supermarkets to offer it as a gift, as it is sold vacuum-packed. It is most common to accompany rösti with beer, especially in Zurich, since this city has a huge German influence. In addition, lately in this city, it is fashionable to brew craft beer, so it is very likely that the restaurant will offer their own.
THE ETERNAL GIFT
Bahnhofstrasse is the busiest street in the city. Luxury stores, department stores, banks and modern buildings follow one after the other along this beautiful tree-lined avenue that runs the distance between the main station and the lake shore. In this street and in its adjacent ones are the stores of the great firms, as well as the best chocolate and confectionery shops. A whole exclusive trade that makes this area probably the largest market for luxury goods in Europe.
The shop windows of the Bahnhofstrasse are true works of art, the products on display are exclusive and their decoration is very delicate. It is a pleasure to walk through these streets, its terraces or cafes, and while watching the people strolling, shopping or working. Let´s be part of this micro-world that can sometimes seem a bit theatrical! Bahnhofsrtasse is for everyone! And it is precisely in this area that we can find the star product that we recommend below...
In the stores of typical products we will find objects such as cuckoo clocks or as curious instruments for cooking that are ideal to enjoy in these latitudes, but of dubious application in countries with warm climate... Our recommendation is to visit the "Made in Switzerland" stores, where everything sold is a national product. There are several north of the street and also at the train station. Among the thousand curiosities that you will find in these stores, we especially recommend a small object that is useful, practical, transportable and economically affordable. We are talking about the Swiss Army Knife, the national product par excellence! The most typical is the Victorinox brand, which is sold in many places and has its official store in Bahnhofstrasse. Let´s learn more about this small and practical object!
In 1887, the Swiss army launched a competition to equip its soldiers with a folding knife with different functions. As no Swiss company could produce the 15,000 required, the German company Wester & Co. produced the first model, which included a knife, can opener, screwdriver and punch. Shortly thereafter, the Swiss companies Wenger and Victorinox took over the manufacture and sale of knives throughout the 20th century, until 2005, when Victorinox bought the Wenger company.
Swiss Army knives are distinguished because they are engraved with a cross, which is the symbol of the country. The traditional color of the knives used by the army is red, although nowadays different color series are manufactured for different audiences. The models range from the basic pocket knife, which costs around 11 euros, to the elaborate Swiss Champ, which has 70 functions and costs more than 500 euros. All kinds of series are produced, such as commemorative, themed, designer or limited editions, and also in different materials such as Bakelite, wood, plastic or steel. Some knives are simple, but others are real toolboxes - there are even models with a USB memory stick!
Swiss Army Knives are definitely the perfect gift!
Victorinox Flagship Store Zürich
8001 Zürich, Switzerland
One of the most picturesque images that we can capture in Zurich is its magnificent lake. Located at an altitude of 409 meters and embraced by the pre-alpine mountain ranges lies this immense sea of fresh water, whose placid waters occupy an area of 88 km² and have a dizzying maximum depth of 143 meters. Its waters flow into the Limmat River, a tributary of the Rhine, so that this great lake ends up feeding the North Sea.
Lake Zurich is full of typical cold and pure water fish, such as pike and trout. Its surroundings are covered with fertile slopes full of vineyards and fruit trees, and along its entire length are located important localities. Among them, the small and beautiful island of Ufenau stands out, located in the south of the lake and which served as a refuge at the beginning of the 16th century to Ulrich von Hutten, one of the most important reactionaries against the Catholic Church of Rome in the early days of the Reformation. This narrow and elongated lake, which has an approximate length of 40 kilometers, has an eastern basin almost isolated from the rest of the lake by the existing proximity between the peninsulas of Rapperswil and Hurden, both communicated by a road.
The waters of this lake enter Zurich from the westernmost basin, passing under one of the most important bridges of the city, the Quaibrücke. Right at this point located on the Zurich shore we find a beautiful terrace called Bürkliterrasse, located next to the pier where the tourist boats are taken. This terrace offers different perspectives that will allow us to get some spectacular photographs with the Zurich Opera House and the Alps in the background and animated by the swans that swarm around the lake. And if we are lucky, we can even get a snapshot with one of the vintage boats that travel the lake to Rapperswil!
The photograph from Bürkliterrasse takes on special significance when framed with the statue of Ganymede. Greek mythology tells that Ganymede, a Trojan prince, was abducted by Zeus and taken to the top of Mount Olympus. Hermann Hubacher, the author of this bronze statue erected in 1952, wanted his work to symbolize the opposite, i.e. to reflect man´s longing to ascend Mount Olympus. In this sculpture, Ganymede points to the heights and seems to ask Zeus, father of the gods who is depicted as an eagle, to take him with him. In line with the Swiss character, the author emphasized that his sculpture "is not a Greek Ganymede, but a Swiss one".
On the pedestal of this sculpture can be read chiseled the beginning of Goethe´s poem Ganymede, which reads, "In your morning light how you enfold me, O beloved spring!"
8001 Zürich, Switzerland
THE TEMPLE OF KNOWLEDGE
Located in the heart of Zurich´s historic district and perfectly integrated into an early 20th century building, we find a real haven of culture and wisdom. It is the superb Library of the Zurich Law School, a place where knowledge is very hypnotic...
This spectacular library is located in the building´s courtyard, and occupies an elliptical space with a white marble floor in which Santiago Calatrava, the famous contemporary architect, has created a world of serene lines and filtered light. The courtyard receives its light from a glazed dome supported by a steel structure, and to maximize the use of resources, as the Swiss like to do, this dome has an integrated mechanism that regulates the incidence of sunlight, increasing exposure in winter and reducing it on very sunny days. Although considering Zurich´s climate, we are likely to find it wide open...
The library has seven floors on which the classrooms, offices, book shelves and reading stations are distributed. Surprisingly, it is impossible to see the supporting pillars of this structure, which rises independently of the old building. In keeping with his usual line of design, this famous architect is once again capable of creating a modern and functional space, while at the same time enhancing and respecting the original building in a very rigorous manner. Thanks to this architectural genius, this project received the European Prize for Steel Structures in 2003.
Fully conceived to maximize the power of concentration, study and intellectual exchange, this library is a center of wisdom. It has 5000 linear meters of shelves and 500 reading stations, so during our visit, in addition to delighting us with its atmosphere and its comforting smell of wood, we can also enjoy enriching services such as book and document consultation, reading rooms or access to computers and, of course, also its wi-fi connection.
Normally, this spectacular library is open from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, but we recommend that you check the opening hours before visiting, as they vary depending on the time of year.
And one last note... If you are interested in the work of Santiago Calatrava, during your visit to Zurich you can see other works by this brilliant Spanish architect, such as the Stadelhofen railroad station, the Outer Bank building, the BlackBox television studios and the Letten bridge over the ring road.
Rechtswissenschaftliches Institut Bibliothek (Library of the Faculty of Law)
University of Zurich
8001 Zurich, Switzerland
LET´S DANCE THE NIGHT AWAY!
The fact that Zurich is one of the cities with the highest per capita income in the world makes it very easy to find challenges. The most absurd eccentricities abound in this city and, much more, if it is weekend night... Taking advantage of our stay in this city, we are going to propose you to experience Langstrasse, the street of Zurich with more nightlife. Here you will find all kinds of restaurants: expensive, cheap, Chinese, American, Mexican, Vietnamese, Tibetan... even Swiss! The nightlife, and sometimes even the early morning, takes place in this area, which is very easy to reach by public transport.
Until a few years ago, Langstrasse was considered the area of vice, clandestinity, black business and prostitution, but with the severity of the Swiss regime, its atmosphere has softened a lot, although it is true that it still maintains some of the spirit of excess that it had in its origins. The neighborhood is full of party places of all kinds, from restaurants and terraces in the street to places of activities that we will never discover?
The eccentricity occupies its premises and its stores are open all day and all night. It is a sort of "red light district" but moderated by the new times, and especially by the strict Swiss legislation. We must inform you that in this district there are plenty of brothels and places of sexual challenges, but all these businesses are properly regulated, pass many hygienic controls and their workers are properly registered and insured. And prostitution is legal in Switzerland! Of course, it is enough to walk along Langstrasse to realize that the Swiss are different in many aspects of life...
Our recommendation is to arrive at Langstrasse at a good time to see the night evolve. Regarding the restaurants, and to avoid surprises, we advise you to always check the menu and prices before entering. When you finish dinner, take a leisurely stroll through the area and try any of the bars and dance clubs that are distributed along the main street and adjacent streets. There are bars for all tastes, some are quiet and others are more lively... and if you decide on a dance bar, get on the dance floor and let your hair down! Our favorite is the Sender, which belongs to the local alternative radio station, GDS.FM, a real springboard for new musical creators. Sometimes, the party and the sound of this place are broadcasted live by this radio station: at the Sender club, the musical quality and the good atmosphere are guaranteed!
The dance clubs in Langstrasse usually open around 8 pm and close around 2 am on weekdays, and at 5 am on weekends. To get to this area by public transport, the easiest way is to get off at the main train station in Zurich and, from there, walk to Langstrasse. And for the return trip, the best thing to do is to take an Uber, and surprisingly... in Zurich Uber is not too expensive!
8004 Zürich, Switzerland
8004 Zürich, Switzerland
ORNAMENTAL PRANKS OF THE GREAT CATHEDRAL
The soaring towers of the Great Cathedral of Zurich are visible from any part of the city. This magnificent temple, known as Grossmünster in German, is located on the right bank of the Limmat River and, according to tradition, was built over the church of an ancient monastery ordered to be erected by Charlemagne on the same site where the tombs of Saints Regulus and Felix, patrons of Zurich, were located. Romanesque in style but with Gothic elements, the Great Cathedral has two spectacular twin bell towers, which are the symbol of the city. Because of its beauty and the great importance that this temple has had in the history of Zurich, the Grossmünster is a must-see.
Something that is very surprising in the Grossmünster are its original stained glass windows, and is that they are not composed of polychrome glass as usual, but the brilliant German artist Sigmar Polke managed to illuminate and color the interior of the cathedral with sheets of colored agate. In addition, these novel stained glass windows do not represent religious art, but, in a purely aesthetic way, the artist wanted to symbolize the origin of the world. They are composed of natural and reused materials, far from technological trends and the invention of new products. On the other hand, the stained glass windows in the choir depicting the birth of Christ are not by Sigmar Polke, but are the work of the painter Augusto Giacometti.
Another recent secret of the Grossmünster is its magnificent bronze door, which depicts the life of Ulrich Zwingli, who was the father of the Protestant Reformation that took place in Switzerland in the 16th century. It is remarkable for its great consistency and, of course, its panels depicting the life and works of Zwingli. Its author was the German artist Otto Münch, who created this door in 1938 at the suggestion of the Protestant bishop of that time, who was much more orthodox than the current ones.
The Grossmünster can be visited every day except Sundays, which is only open during mass. The spectacular bronze door and Sigmar Polke´s unique stained glass windows can be admired from the outside of the church, but being able to see the interior of the Great Cathedral of Zurich illuminated by its colored agates on a sunny day is a truly memorable experience.
Across the bridge from the Great Cathedral is Fraumünster, which is the church of an ancient Benedictine abbey founded, according to legend, in the mid-ninth century by Hildegard and Bertha, great-granddaughters of Charlemagne. The nuns of this abbey held political power over the city of Zurich until the establishment of the guild laws in the early 14th century. After the Protestant Reformation led by Ulrich Zwingli, the abbey was finally dissolved in 1524. Today, Fraumünster is one of the largest and oldest churches in Zurich, and is famous for its beautiful stained glass windows, created by the Russian Jewish painter Marc Chagall in 1970. There are five beautiful stained glass windows and each of them, with a spectacular different color background.
Grossmünster (Great Cathedral)
8001 Zürich, Switzerland
8001 Zürich, Switzerland
SECRETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY
Strolling through the center of Zurich on car-free pedestrian paths or appreciating the integration of its contemporary art with the environment are just two of the many pleasures we will enjoy on the following route that we have prepared and that runs through the treasures of the twentieth century of this city.
We begin our walk in Bellevue, the Opera Square. This esplanade, which has no trees because there is a parking lot under it, offers us very striking curiosities, such as movable chairs and benches. The building of the Opera is not exactly from the 20th century, but we can admire it anyway. Its interior can be visited every day except Sundays, through free or guided tours, but the best way to get to know it is by attending a performance, since the Zurich Opera is one of the most important in the world. In fact, in 2018 it was internationally recognized as "Institution of the Year". Remember that to attend an opera performance you need to book in advance and dress smartly, as such an event demands.
We continue our walk along the shore of the lake until we reach Seebad Utoquai, an area of the lake specially designated for swimming. This part of the shore is very frequented by the Zurichers, who come on their bicycles dressed casually to sunbathe or to swim a little. Swimming in Lake Zurich is very safe, but only in the designated areas!
We continue along the lake and soon we will arrive at a real jewel of the twentieth century. This is the Pavillon Le Corbusier, easily identifiable by its lines and colors that seem to be inspired by the Rubik´s Cube. This brilliant work, dating from 1967, was the last work of Le Corbusier. This extraordinary architect, Swiss by birth and later naturalized French, created this modular composition using only glass and steel as materials. Its interior museum exhibits works by the artist, in addition to temporary thematic exhibitions. In this work of Le Corbusier is surprising the fusion of the minimalist architecture of its interior, with the technological aspect of its exterior and the romanticism of the lake. Such is the eclecticism of Zurich!
Only a few meters ahead, we will find "Heureka", a kinetic sculpture, that is, with movement, created by Jean Tinguely in 1964. It is a strange metal structure with which the artist wants to make a metaphor about how excessive consumption and the frenetic pace of our society will end with an exhausted industry. For many art analysts, this sculpture is an irony on technology and useless machinery... and it is located in Zurich! "Heureka" was Tinguely´s first public work and, from this creation, the artist became internationally famous for his artistic ironies.
This walk along the shore of Lake Zurich, from the Opera Square to "Heureka", is less than two kilometers long, but if you wish to return by bus, you can take any of the buses that pass along the avenue towards the city center.
A BOHEMIAN MOMENT BY THE LAKE
The name Quaianlagen is given to the artificial piers that reinforce the lower shores of Lake Zurich. Erected in 1887, their construction was a milestone in the urban transformation of the city at the time. Today, these piers form a wonderful six-kilometer-long promenade, perfect for strolling and relaxing.
East of the main Quaibrücke bridge, on the shore of the lake, there is a wonderful little corner with benches and stairs where street musicians often delight passers-by during the summer evenings. Sitting here for a while, just listening or watching the scenery, is a real pleasure. This place offers beautiful views of the lake, the bridge and the Alps, and from here we can also see the little boats sailing placidly and feel the company of many other people who are also enjoying the same as us. And sometimes, musicians liven up the atmosphere with dances or improvised mini-concerts, providing an excellent soundtrack to this moment.
On the wide sidewalk of this promenade there is a hot dog and hamburger stand that attracts locals passing by in a hurry. Nearby, there is a Velo Pump Station, which is a tool station where anyone can repair their bike for free. And if you look closely, you will see that some of the benches on this promenade have USB charging points - small curiosities of Zurich that make it top the list of cities with the highest standard of living in the world!
This corner of the city has a rather bohemian atmosphere, driven in part by the Herzbaracke, a floating theater that will transport you back to the days of cabaret and is housed on a blue wooden ship that is often beached here. The kind of people who feed this bohemian atmosphere are known in Zurich as bobo, a word of French invention that takes the first syllables of bourgeois and bohème, that is to say, of bourgeois and bohemian. This word describes, quite aptly, this new well-to-do social tribe that has a certain tendency, at least apparently, towards aesthetics, spirituality, music and some of the principles of the Revolution of ´68.
In this area, the goofy atmosphere contrasts completely with the better known version of Zurich, which is luxury, money and ostentation. If we sharpen our eyes, it is possible that from here we see a large collection of cars and motorcycles, all high-end and generally very noisy, since the intention of their owners is to show off all their economic power, usually of dubious origin... You already know that Switzerland is a tax haven that keeps large fortunes, many of them coming from clandestine operations, whose owners are, by the way, faithful regulars to the luxury stores of the city.
8008 Zürich, Switzerland
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