Crowning the picture-perfect Weinegg Quarter, this university garden is enlivened by a vivid tapestry of botanical wonders. It is an integral part of the Institute of Systematic Botany. Constructed across its verdant meadows are bubble-style greenhouses, bountiful harbors of plants which lovingly call to mind the clear weather and vibrant landscapes of the Mediterranean and the Tropics. Come spring, the garden comes alive with a burst of mesmerizing blooms while droves of frogs croon into its glimmering pond. From alpine roses and water plants to native European and primitive species, the garden strives to be an embodiment of both research and recreation, creating a gardenscape which is a spectacular feast for the senses.
A venerated cathedral made memorable by its imposing twin towers, Grossmünster is among the best-known landmarks in Zurich. Construction on the Romanesque-style structure began in the early 12th Century and continued for roughly 110 years. Legend reckons that the church was built as a monastery on the graves of Zurich's patron saints Felix and Regula and today proudly stands guard over the city and its spectacular landscape. Other significant architectural features apart from the towers include magnificent bronze doors, an 11th-century crypt, and grotesque-ornamented capitals that top the medieval columns of the grand south portal. Besides its architectural glory, the Grossmünster is also revered for its historical significance as the site where religious leader Huldrych Zwingli launched the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland during the 16th Century. The cathedral has since witnessed a handful of modifications, such as the stained-glass windows added in 1932 by Augusto Giacometti.
Once an all-women abbey for those of aristocratic lineage, the Fraumünster Church commands dignity and a place of pride in Zurich. Perhaps one of the most striking features of this church is the troupe of magnificent, diversely colored stained glass windows crafted by renowned artists Marc Chagall and Augusto Giacometti. Another such recognizable gem of the church is its soaring tower, which was built in 1732, standing today in stark contrast to the twin towers of the nearby Grossmünster. This Gothic-Romanesque church also features an ornate nave, a Romanesque chancel, and exquisite frescoes which are but an escape into the church's storied past. Topped by a gleaming teal cap, this church proudly graces the heart of Zurich's old town.
A bevy of cultural experiences are to be found in this old villa, on top of a little hill in a park. On different floors, Rietberg Museum shows art from India, Southeast Asia, China, Tibet, Japan, Africa, Oceania, America, and Switzerland. Displays contain objects like statues of Shiva and other gods and goddesses, wooden dolls, masks and other artifacts. The admission prices for temporary exhibits differ from the normal rates. Get caught up in the world of the past and pay a visit to this magical museum.
One of the best things about Zurich being a university town is that the university has several free museums. The Zoological Museum is the main attraction, not only because of the microscope tables, furry games and video projections, the giant giraffe and stuffed birds. No, the best attraction is getting there! A Polybahn which is accessible from the tram station Central, brings you to the terrace where many of the university buildings are found. This beautifully restored, antique mode of transport is a special treat for children of all ages.
Located in the Löwenbräu area, the Kunsthalle Zürich exhibits contemporary art works of various artistes throughout the year. Beginners as well as professionals from all parts of the world take pride in putting up their paintings, sketches and photographs on the Kunsthalle forum. International celebrities, such as Isa Genzken, Anselm Reyle and Sarah Morris have held shows at this premier venue in the past. As a rule though, this museum displays only one artist's creations at a time.
The Schanzengraben reclaims the perimeter of Zurich's original defensive bulwarks, turning the area into a lovely tree-shaded walkway that subverts the once-imposing fortifications of Altstadt. What was once a prohibitive moat is now a tranquil canal, boats and swimmers bobbing easily in the still water that reflects the brickwork of antique fortress walls. A haven from the bustle of urban Zurich, Schanzengraben is the perfect destination for a peaceful walk through green pathways and nearby office workers enjoying a leisurely lunch.
The first floor of Zunfthaus zur Meisen houses the faience (glazed ceramic ware) and porcelain collection of the Swiss National Museum. The baroque interiors provide a good backdrop for an overview of the Swiss faience and porcelain workshops of the 18th century and the role Switzerland played in the tableware culture of that time. Products from the Zurich porcelain factory in Kilchberg-Schooren and some from Nyon VD are displayed in the center of the room. They are arranged chronologically (Zurich products from 1763 to 1790 and Nyon ones from 1781 to 1813) to give an insight into how they evolved as per the changing tastes of the time. Zurich's porcelain figures have a special place in the exhibition. They are grouped according to the theme they represent such as seasons, continents, wine, love, allegories, hunting, elements and exoticism. Private events can also be organized at the venue which can accommodate 200 people (standing only).
Augmented by the steely waters of the Limmat River, this church is a stirring escape into history. A stone's throw from Lindenhof Hill in the old town of Zurich, this is one of the four major churches in the city. Although the current holy site was not declared sacred until 1706, an early church structure was believed to have been built by the 8th or 9th Century. The most iconic feature of St. Peterskirche is its clock tower, which plays host to the largest clock face in the country, its minute hand alone measuring 5.7 meters (18.8 feet). With a facade as legendary and imposing as this, it is no surprise that St. Peter Church lords over pristine, fawn-roofed houses which dot the charming landscape of Old Town. However, the interiors of the church are just as beautiful, its stuccoed white ceiling and carved wooden balconies illuminated by a line of chandeliers that swing overhead. While an ornate Romanesque choir stall and Baroque naves add to its magnificence, it is the now faded murals that are a true testimony to the church's long-standing history and religious repute.
Zurich's vibrant and diverse history comes alive Augustinergasse, a historic street which winds through the charming Old Town. Touted as one of Zurich's most colorful streets, Augustinergasse is where lovingly carved, wooden windows embellish picture-perfect buildings gleaming in corals, emeralds and pastels. In the Middle Ages, it was home to a number of local artists, though the street was largely occupied by wealthy factory owners by the 17th Century. Notable landmarks along Augustinergasse include Augustinerkirche, one of the most significant churches in medieval Zurich, and Munzplatz, which served not only as a church but also as a workshop and mint coinage. Perhaps the most striking attribute of these edifices is the strategically crafted oriel windows, which go beyond just being a pretty ornamentation. Through these bay windows, residents could view forthcoming guests, hence buying themselves time to decline them with grace, if they so wished. These buildings which date to as far back as the 14th Century, are presently storefronts brimming with cultural relics, books, souvenirs, clothing and the likes.
Hemmed by the historic Schanzengraben, the Old Botanical Garden lies at the site of the former Bollwerk zur Katz - part of the city's Baroque fortifications. From 1837 to 1977, the garden was maintained by the University of Zurich as a botanical preserve until the new botanical garden was established at Zollikerstrasse. Today, the Old Botanical Garden is a public park that invites all to linger and marvel at the exotic plants on display. The 19th-century Palm House and the Gessner Garden are the highlights of the park; the former a historic edifice that is now used as a venue for live theater and concerts, while the latter is an intriguing collection of herbs that chronicles the use of such plants for medicinal purposes in the 17th Century. With its scenic surrounds and historic allure, the Old Botanical Garden of the University of Zurich remains a popular tourist attraction.