Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, and its airport is a major international hub for European travel. Zurich is located in the north-central area of the country above Geneva and Lausanne at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. Both the Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in Switzerland. So chances are if you’ve traveled in Europe you may have spent an hour or two in Zurich. But have you really spent time in Zurich? What makes Zurich engaging in its own right? What makes Zurich a city far more rich than is epitomized by a sleek, sophisticated, leather-and-chrome-chaired airport, by luxury brand shopping at a stop-over on the way to or from another desirable European destination?
Well, let me begin with clean, beautiful cobblestone streets and pathways that wind among medieval and younger but equally impressive buildings. And then there is the water. The lake specifically. Lake Zurich, criss-crossed with picturesque bridges. In late summer there is blue sky and blue water. The effect is seriously like that of a fairy tale.
And there are swans! Real, beautiful, swans. On the lake. Just like a beginners piano song I used to attempt, warbled, at my grandmother’s house…
Permanently settled for around 2000 years, Zürich has a history that goes back to its founding by the Romans, who in 15 BC called it by another name, Turicum. By the way, is there any important city in Europe the Romans DID NOT settle? Not according to my study abroad Italian Culture & History Professoressa! In any case, perhaps Zurich wins the one-up since early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago!
During the Middle Ages, Zurich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, became a primary centre of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. Can you imagine the people of Zurich dressed in medieval clothes going in and out of church here or through the doors pictured below?
By the way, the official language of Zürich is (the Swiss variety) German. However, Switzerland is surrounded on three sides by Germany, Italy, and France, so many speak all three languages as well as English. English-speaking tourists in general will not have a problem getting around! Another benefit of the proximity of these distinct cultures is the culinary influences and cuisines each brings to Switzerland. Eating well is not a problem here, so bring your appetite!
Many pathways await Zurich’s many visitors each year with undiscovered treasures. Which direction will you wander in?
When the sun is a little too warm or the feet a bit tired, many lovely cafes and restaurants like these await to offer refreshment.
One thing in both Zurich and Lucerne is the painted walls of buildings. Charming and unique, be sure and take note!
It seems that everything in Zurich is cared for and kept to the highest standard.
Don’t forget to look up while exploring! You never know what you might be missing!
It’s the end of the afternoon, and you know it must be time for an aperitif. How about the Brasserie Lipp and the Jules Vernon PanoramaBar?
Walk in through this lovely restaurant and then head up the elevator. By the way, is this one affiliated with the famous Parisian cafe of the same name?
When you think of famous Swiss people, does Jules Vernon come to mind? Of course not; he was French! Ha! Then what is the connection with the panoramabar? One must learn to learn to live with mysteries to solve another day!
Really though, the view is terrific!
By the way, many global surveys have ranked Zurich in their top 25 for “quality of life”. The value of quality in all things, and particularly in the way one lives life, is important here and seems evident everywhere one looks. Sparking inspiration for a higher standard at home and the wonder that such a place exists in modern times, Zurich proves itself to be more than a stop-over to another European destination!
*Originally publishing October 18, 2016, 6:05am.