Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Day in Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich.   It is located in central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich about a two and half hour train ride from Vevey. It has a population of nearly 2 million inhabitants.
The history of Zurich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. In 1519, it was the place of origin and center of the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli. 
Zurich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centers.  The city is home to a large number of high-end retail shops,  financial institutions and banking giants.  Their low tax rate attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters here. According to several recent surveys, Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe.

Being welcomed to Zurich.  The Zurich train station was built in 1870.  Today, in addition to handling over 2,000 trains per day, it also has a farmers’ market on Wednesday.  Beneath the train station is a huge underground modern shopping center. 


On arriving at the train station, one of the first things you see is this fat blue angel hanging from the ceiling. This is Zurich’s “Guardian Angel,” which allegedly protects 
travelers.  This angel has been here since 1977 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Swiss rail system.


The Swiss National Museum.  It was built in 1889 by Gustav Gull in the form of the French Renaissance chateaus (castle).   His impressive architecture with dozens of towers and courts has become one of the main sights of the Old City District of Zurich.
The museum was a fascinating exploration of Swiss national history.  It had an impressive and varied collection of ancient artifacts, which gave us a better understanding of Swiss life and consciousness through the centuries. The collection contained artifacts from the Stone Age to modern times.  In the archaeology exhibit we saw tools and articles dating back to before 800 BC. We saw many religious relics from the 13th to 16th centuries; many had been taken from Catholic churches during the Reformation.  Another interesting exhibit was the Armory, where historic Swiss weaponry used in combat during the last 500 years was on display. We saw crossbows, swords and suits of armor. Lastly, what was of interest to Paula, were examples of clothes from the early 17th century through the modern era.
Much of the stuff the Protestants swiped out of the Catholic Churches in the name of Reformation was on display here. I will bet at some point the Vatican asked for it back. 


The courtyard of the museum.


This gun was on display in the courtyard.


On the exterior of the museum was this decorative art work.


This carriage (stage coach) was displayed outside the doors of the museum.  The lettering on the side reads Fluelen-Camerlata.  This stage coach was used in the late 1890’s to transport people and mail between Fluelen, Switzerland, which is located about 45 miles south of Zurich and Camerlata, Italy which is just south of Como.  The distance between the two cities is just over 100 miles. This is one of the last surviving coaches from that era.

  They had an exhibit of sleighs through the centuries. An illicit , illegal museum photo by guess who?


Looking for a place to eat lunch.  To our amazement there are a lot of small alley ways like this in Zurich.  A quant old town that was completely unexpected.


We are zeroing in on the restaurant were we will eat lunch.  


We ate lunch at this restaurant - Zeughauskeller.


An interior shot in the Zeughauskeller. In this 500 year old restaurant , most are seated family style and you better just like the people who share your breadbasket. 


Pictured above is the crossbow used by William Tell.  It is displayed in the restaurant where we ate lunch.


In case you don't remember, the legend of William Tell goes as follows:  The area around Zurich was controlled by Austria.  They appointed Hermann Gessler to act as chief official for the area.  He raised a pole in the village's central square, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the townsfolk bow before the hat. On November 18,1307, Tell visited the town with his young son and passed by the hat, publicly refusing to bow to it, and so was arrested. Gessler, intrigued by Tell's famed marksmanship, yet resentful of his defiance, devised a cruel punishment: Tell and his son would be executed, but he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off the head of his son, Walter, in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a arrow from his crossbow.
But Gessler noticed that Tell had removed two arrows from his quiver. Before releasing Tell, he asked why. Tell replied that if he had killed his son, he would have used the second arrow to kill Gessler.   Gessler was angered, and had Tell arrested.  He was being transport, by ship, to prison. But, a storm broke and the soldiers were afraid that their boat would sink. So they unbound Tell so he could steer the ship with all his famed strength. Tell made use of this opportunity to leap from the ship and escaped.
Tell ran cross-country to Gessler’s castle.   When Gessler arrived, Tell assassinated him with the second crossbow arrow. Tell's blow for liberty sparked a rebellion, in which he played a leading part. The  rebellion fed the impetus for the formation of the Swiss Confederation.  Also, according to legend, Tell died in 1354 while saving a child from drowning. 


The Fraumunster (The Church of Our Lady) Abbey, pictured above, was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard and placed under his direct authority.  In 1045 the Abbey was given rights that effectively gave it control of the city. But this power slowly reduced in the 14th century and the Abbey completely dissolved in 1524 under Protestant Reformer Ulrich Zwingli.  The church then became a 'simple' parish church.

The interior, following the reform of Zwingli, where all traces of Catholic decor were removed, is now extremely austere.  As you will recall, during the Protestant Reformation, most of the catholic statues and relics were removed from Catholic churches.   However, there are 5 large stained glass windows in the choir designed by Marc Chagall and installed in 1970.


The Swiss are very proud of the Chagall Windows, as they are very beautiful.  In fact, as we we approached the church looking at our maps and books in confusion, a Swiss man stopped us to let us know that we needed to go inside to see the windows. 


You can’t take pictures in the church, but I was able to find the 3 pictures above on the Internet:
The windows pictured above are on the east wall of the church:

The blue shows Jacob’s wrestling match with an Angel of the Lord.

The green center window, often referred to as the “Christ” window, depicts a Tree of Jesse with Virgin and Child at the top and scenes of the crucifixion and ascension.
The yellow “Zion” window represents the End of Days.
I don’t have pictures of the following 2 windows:
On the north side of the church is the red-orange “Prophets” window which depicts Elisha watching Elijah’s ascension in a fiery chariot and Jeremiah lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem.
On the south side of the church is the blue “Law” window which shows Moses holding the Ten Commandments.

In the north end of the church, just behind the organ, is this work by Agusto Giacometti, which depicts God and Christ, with eight prophets below, and Matthew, Mark, Luke and John framed by ten angels.  

This is a statue of Hans Waldmann (1435 – April 6, 1489) he was Mayor of Zurich and a Swiss military leader.  From 1474 to 1477, he led the Swiss army against the French, finally defeating them at the Battle of Nancy. 
As mayor of Zurich and a representative to the Swiss Confederacy, he sought to impose higher taxes on neighboring rural villages which, taken together with a disdain for his reputed aristocratic excesses, led to a peasant revolt.  In 1489, 500 peasants from the rural village of Knonau toppled Waldmann as mayor.  He was later beheaded on April 6, 1489 following accusations of financial corruption. If only...
This equestrian monument was commissioned by folks who thought Waldmann was unjustly accused of the crimes that lead to his beheading.  Fittingly, it was unveiled on April 6, 1937.


Pictured above is The Grossmunster (great minster) which is a Romanesque-style church. It is one of the three major churches in the city, the others being the Fraumunster and St Peter’s. The core of the present building was commissioned, according to legend, by Charlemagne in the early 800’s.  Legend has it that while on a hunting trip, his horse fell to its knees over the tombs of Felix and Regula.  (More about Charlemagne later in this blog). Felix and Regula are Roman Catholic saints and the patron saints of Zurich.  According to legend, Felix and Regula, who were siblings, were executed by decapitation in 286 for their religious beliefs. According to  legend, they picked up their decapitated heads and walked 40 paces to the place where they wished to be buried. 
It is in this church that in 1519 Ulrich Zwingi, whose religious fervor made Martin Luther seem mellow, sparked the Protestant Reformation in German speaking Switzerland.  As you may recall, the Protestant Reformation began in 1517 with Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

Since 2009, these artistically designed stained-glass windows by, Sigmar Polke, have decorated the Grossmunster Church. This well-known German artist crafted seven windows in the nave from agate. He cut this semi-precious stone into thin slices that would let light pass through them and have the appearance of brightly glowing walls. 


This picture was taken from outside the church looking in.  The next picture was taken from inside he church looking out.


You can see how much more vivid the colors are when the outside light shines in.


This window created by Giacometti in 1933, depicts the Three Magi bearing gifts to the Virgin and Child, with angels above.

This is the statue of Charlemagne (742 - 815).  It is located in the crypt below the alter of the church.


Charlemagne was determined to bring order to Europe.  To accomplish this objective, in 772 he launched a 30-year military campaign. By 800 he was the undisputed ruler of Western Europe. His vast empire encompassed what are now France, Switzerland, Belgium, and The Netherlands. It included half of present-day Italy and Germany, and parts of Austria and Spain. By establishing a central government over Western Europe, He restored much of the unity of the old Roman Empire and paved the way for the development of modern Europe.



On Christmas Day 800, at Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Rome, Pope Leo III  declared Charlemagne as the Emperor of the Roman Empire.


This was a shot up stream on the Limmat River.  One of the two major rivers, the other is the Sihl, that flows through Zurich and empties into Lake Zurich.



The church on the right is St. Peter’s.  It was founded in the 7th century and is Zurich’s oldest church. 


St Peter's has one of Europe’s largest clock faces, 28 feet in diameter.  The town watchman used to live above the clock.  If he spotted a fire, he would ring the alarm and hang a flag out the window facing the blaze.  This system must have worked, since Zurich has never suffered a devastating fire.


A picture of Lake Zurich.


This clock, which is located on the bank of Lake Zurich, actually provides the correct time.


One hears very little about crime in Switzerland and so we had to note this finding.  The Prada store has been hammered with paint balls and there is Crime Scene tape all around forcing side-walkers to move to the street to pass.  The Occupiers are down the street....hmmmm


More Occupy Zurich signs.


Diligent Occupiers planning another Saturday.


Occupy Zurich participants were both musical and entertaining. It's interesting to see protests in Switzerland, a socialist society that takes care of all. If they are protesting then who is left sitting it out?


The Occupy Zurich free buffet panini bar.


By the way, let's free Palestine while we're at it.


In vivd contrast, this shoe boutique celebrates with a champagne bar under the same roof.


A picture of a flower shop in one of the many back alleys of Zurich.


This little restaurant with the blue cow on the balcony is said to be one of the best for fondue in Zurich.  It's called Restaurant Swiss Chuchi.


This is a statue of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (January 12,1746 – February 17,1827).  He was a Swiss educational reformer. He founded several educational institutions both in German and French speaking regions of Switzerland and wrote novels explaining his revolutionary modern principles of education. His motto "Learning by head, hand and heart" is still a key principle in successful 21st century schools. Thanks to Pestalozzi, illiteracy still prevailing in 18th century Switzerland was overcome almost completely by 1830.

You will notice behind the status is a store with the name "GLOB".  The full name of the store is Globus.  It is similar to a Nordstrom’s, only they also sell food.  Imagine our surprise, in their cheese section they had English Cheddar Cheese.  Paula immediate had the clerk cut off a chunk.  This is the first cheddar cheese we have had since we left Portland. It was DELICIOUS!!!

We then headed back to the train station and back to Vevey.

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