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  • A quick guide to Zurich’s old town

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    Zurich might be the largest city in Switzerland, and one of the best known too, but nobody can claim that it’s the most touristy Swiss city in existence. When thinking of Zurich, stock exchange and finance come to mind, rather than tourism and holidays, which is why some people who visit Switzerland tend to overlook it. But there is more to Zurich than boring economics, and lately it has become one of the most vibrant tourist destinations in Europe.

    Nestled in the Alps, surrounded by a breath-taking scenery and full of cultural and historical attractions, Zurich is one of the cities that everyone should consider visiting when in Switzerland. And to give you a taste of what you can find there, here’s a short guide to Zurich’s fabulous old town.

    Zurich’s very well preserved old town, or Altstadt lies on the banks of Limmat River. Although Zurich was founded in Roman times, it’s only in the 19th century that the old town developed into the touristic jewel it is today. The industrial revolution completely transformed the city, and the foundation of the Zurich Stock Exchange gave it a huge economic boost.

    The old town does not try to hide the city’s wealth. The narrow streets are lined with intricately designed buildings, especially baroque guildhouses.  Antique shops, little cafes and boutique line the streets of the old town, especially on the left bank of the river.

    If you are interested in old churches, then you will love the old town. The best example is the Grossmünster, a beautiful Romanesque structure, which is known is Zurich as a symbol of the reformation (Zwingli, the famous medieval reformer, was appointed as priest of the people here in 1519).

    Climbing to the top of the Grossmünster’s tower will offer you a great view of the city’s skyline, well worth the entry fee of 2 francs. Fraumünster is another very interesting church, an old Gothic former convent whose windows were painted by the famous Marc Chagall.

    For a nice view of the city, you can also visit Lindenhof, a hill at the heart of the old town, the site of an ancient Roman fortress. The ruins serve as a recreational center, and they are a welcome change from the crowds and car-infested streets of the downtown area. If recreation is what you want, the Niederdorf area of the old town is also a good place to visit.

    This quarter might not be as fetching as the Rathaus or Limmatquai areas, but it is full of bars and cafes where you can while an afternoon (or even the entire night) away.


    Hochschulen is one of the quarters that you absolutely shouldn’t miss. The area is surrounded by 17th century ramparts, and many of the main attractions of the old town are located here. The Bellevue and Sechseläuten squares are magnificent, especially if you are visiting the latter during the Sechseläuten festival.

    The opera and the theater are worth seeing even if you don’t go to a performance, especially since the Schauspielhaus Zürich theater is one of the most important theaters in the German speaking world.

    So take your time exploring the old town, there are many attractions and fun activities that you can do there. It takes a few days to see all there is to see, so buy some good walking shoes and discover this amazing place on foot.

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