Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and it looks back on more than 2000 years of history. Correspondingly, the historical sights in Zurich are spread throughout Zurich in a varied and abundant way. We would like to present the most important attractions and sightseeing location - squares, monuments, examples of architecture, museums and cultural meeting points in the city on the River Limmat to you:
The “Schipfe” is one of the city’s oldest quarters and one of the most well-known sights in Zurich. The name “Schipfe” comes from the ships and means: “Shunting” the boats onto the shore and back into the water. The Schipfe was the reloading site for important goods in the Middle Ages, from the 16th Century onwards for the silk industry, the bathhouses and shipbuilding. The Schipfe has remained a craftsmen's alley to this day. The skilled professionals take time to advise their customers. Quality products and customised orders form an image of small, romantic shops and workshops on the River Limmat. The Schipfe in Zurich’s old town is an ideal location to wander around, go shopping and eat. It can be reached in less than 10 minutes by foot from the hotel entrance.
The Fraumünster is a church with a convent and was donated in 853 by King Ludwig “the German” and occupied by women from Europe’s upper nobility. The convent enjoyed the favours of kings and the abbess held the right to issue and mint coins in Zurich until the 13th Century. After the Reformation, the church and convent were owned by the town. Prominent parts of this important Zurich sight are the Roman choir and the high-domed transept.
The nave was last renovated in 1911, after the North Tower was raised and the South Tower was removed in the 18th Century. Aside from the largest organ in the Zurich Canton, which has 5793 pipes, the most prominent embellishments are its stained glass windows: the northern windows in the transept (1945) were completed by Augusto Giacometti, Alberto Giacometti’s uncle. The five-part window cycle in the choir (1970) and the rosette in the southern transept (1978) are works by Marc Chagall. There is a fresco cycle by Paul Bodmer in the cloister depicting the founding of the convent.
According to the legend, Charlemagne discovered the graves of the city’s patron saints, Felix and Regula, and had an initial church erected as an Augustinian monastery in Zurich’s old town. The current building was started in 1100. In the first half of the 16th Century, Grossmünster became the starting point for the Swiss German-speaking reformation under Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger. The theological school, which was then attached to the monastery, became the nucleus of Zurich University. Do not pass on climbing Grossmünster’s Karlsturm, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view. A Zurich sight which you can’t miss.
During the day, the pedestrian zone and numerous shops hidden in small alleyways invite you to go shopping. In the evenings, Niederdorf changes into an amusement quarter for a diverse crowd with its bars, gastro-pubs and street artists. Discover the best known hot spots as well as insider tips in Zurich’s Niederdorf.
The Zurich Opera House opened its doors in 1834, then under the name “Action-Theater”, with the premiere of Mozart’s Zauberflöte. The theatre, which holds around 1,100 spectators, was completely renovated from 1982-1984 and received an Uto-Quai extension. In 1985, the opera orchestra separated from the Tonhalle-Orchestra and, therefore, brought the Zurich Opera Orchestra to life. In 2012, at the start of Andreas Homoki’s directorship and the new general musical director, Fabio Luisi, taking office, the Zurich Opera Orchestra became the Zurich Philharmonic.
The orchestra can be heard in around 250 opera and ballet performances per season at the Zurich Opera House. Additional philharmonic concerts are put on as a podium for the concert repertoire. Soirées and chamber music matinees complete the orchestra’s artistic spectrum.
In terms of acoustics, Zurich Tonhalle is one of the best concert halls in the world. The famous Tonhalle hall was built in 1895 and inaugurated in the presence of Johannes Brahms. It offers space for 1455 concert-goers. The Zurich Tonhalle-Orchestra has become not only possibly the best in Switzerland, but one of the leading musical bodies in Europe in the past few years. A good hundred highly motivated musicians as well as one enthusiastic famous conductor (Lionel Bringuier) present the public with around one hundred concerts per season with around fifty different programmes.
The National Museum Zurich is the most-visited historic museum in Switzerland, and it also carries the largest art and historical collection in the country. Changing exhibitions make a visit to the museum particularly delightful and the central location just behind the main train station is a big plus.
Elephants, rhinoceroses, penguins and 20 different types of monkey are just some of the animals which can carry you off into an exotic world with all of your senses at Zurich Zoo. You can also enjoy looking at the snow leopards in their rocky Himalayan landscape, watch the spectacled bears climbing and searching for food in their cloud forest installation and admire the swimming giant tortoises in the Masoala Rainforest.
It is warm and humid all year round there, a tropical-smelling, green oasis, a live piece of Madagascar over 11,000m². Explore the rainforest on a winding path and get an insight into the typical, palm tree interspersed forest where lemurs and tortoises live. Events can be hosted in the attached restaurant with its garden atmosphere and impressive view into the rainforest.
It is not only worth exploring the sights in Zurich itself on outings, outside the town walls there is a particularly beautiful destination for dream excursions. Lake Zurich invites a range of exciting activities. Water sports, boat rides, enjoyment with a view and much more - discover Zurich from its natural side.
Above the rooftops of Zurich towers the Uetliberg (871m above see level). From its summit you have a splendid panoramic view of the city and the lake, right up to the Alps. This destination is particularly popular in November as the Uetliberg’s summit is often above the covering of high fog above Zurich. In winter the pathways to the summit are turned into sledging routes. In summer, Uetliberg is the departure point for signposted hikes, a mountain bike route and for the “Planet Path”. This 1.5-2 hour walk leads to the Felsenegg cable car in Adliswil and provides a fascinating insight into the solar system.