Earlier this month Kongo visited Zürich, the largest city in Switzerland, lies at the edge of Lake Zurich, in the northern part of the country not far from the Alps. The Ganymede statue at the edge of the lake symbolizes man’s yearning to scale the heights of Olympus and reach beyond his normal state. As a city, Zurich seems to achieve this goal as it is a wonderful place. This is “downtown” Switzerland.
The city stretches along both sides of the Limmat River, which empties Lake Zurich. About 400,000 residents live here and it is the economic center of Switzerland and a major global financial center.
The Grossmünster (great minister) protestant church is reputed to have been personally founded by Charlemagne. Originally a monastery church built between 1100 and 1220, in the early 1500s it spawned the Swiss-German reformation which led to breaking away from the pope and the catholic church.
Across the river from the Grossmünster stands the Fraumünster (woman’s minister) that started as an abbey for aristocratic women in the 800s. Today it belongs to the Evangelical Reform Church of Zurich.
On either side of the Limmat are boat marinas, cafes, and “beach clubs.” Several bridges cross the river allowing easy access to either side. Swans cavort everywhere on the water here.
Every building in Switzerland worth its bricks has a clock. Most people know of the reputation the Swiss have for making timepieces but do you know how all that got started?Well, as the reformation began to take hold in Europe, the church frowned on ostentatious jewelry that served no useful purpose. The jewelry industry was in steep decline until the Swiss jewelers figured out that they could make watches instead of jewelry and the rest is history. Soon, all the Swiss could get to church on time and show off their wonderful watches. That tradition continues today.
Prestigious homes along the Limmat attest to the high standard of living in Zurich and the rest of Switzerland. Zurich has one of the highest standard of living in the world and is the third most expensive city in Europe. Visitors should keep in mind that Switzerland is NOT part of the European Union. The currency is the Swiss Franc and when Kongo was there a week ago the exchange rate with the U.S. dollar was about one-to-one. While many stores accept Euros, they tend to get a bit snooty and the change you get will be in francs, and not at a good exchange rate!
All over the city (and in other Swiss cities too) are water fountains dripping a continuous stream of potable water. It is not unusual to see people filling their water bottles from these municipal fountains.
Getting around in Zurich is easy. In the center city you can pretty much walk anywhere in less than 30 minutes but there are also trams, bus coaches, bicycles, and the ever present Vespa scooter. Below is the entrance to the train station.
Travel safe. Have fun!