Switzerland | Zürich
MOZART'S STAY IN ZUERICH
Zürich has been permanently settled for around 7,000 years. Its waterways were not just a lifeline; until the middle of the 19th century, the outflow of the lake also served as a transport route for heavy goods. Tip: You can find out more at the Swiss National Museum, which houses the most comprehensive collection of artifacts pertaining to Swiss cultural history.
The Roman Turicum
In 15 BC, during a campaign over the Alps, the Romans arrived at the Lindenhof, where they set up a customs post known as Turicum. They were well acquainted with the secret of mortar and proceeded to construct Zürich’s first stone buildings. The Romans had a flair for detail as no other people before them. They also brought grapevines with them across the Alps, which added to the city’s attraction. Some 250 to 350 people lived in the Roman settlement of Turicum, which also had a toll bridge, a harbor and thermal baths.
Zürich on the Road to Becoming a Free Imperial City
The highly sophisticated system adopted by the Romans fell apart after their withdrawal in the year 401, for the Franks and the Alemans who followed were not town dwellers. They lacked the necessary expertise to repair and keep the infrastructure in good order. This led to the breakdown of the transportation system, with the result that trading was no longer possible and money became worthless. Various emperors and kings held their courts on the Lindenhof, and the Late Roman fortress was transformed into a castle. After the death of the last in the line of the Zähringer family, which had acted as a kind of city ruler, in 1218, Zürich was granted the right to be a free imperial city and was placed under the direct authority of the Holy Roman Emperor. Filled with a new sense of self-importance, the people of Zürich razed the castle on the Lindenhof to the ground, and in its place built the city’s first Town Hall next to the Limmat.
Brun’s Constitution of the Guilds
In 1336, with the help of the local craftsmen, the nobleman Rudolf Brun stormed and overthrew the City Council in the Town Hall and founded the Constitution of the Guilds. The guilds exerted considerable political influence from the end of the 14th century right up to the French Revolution. Under Rudolf Brun, Zürich joined the Swiss Confederation in 1351.
The First City Walls and Church Buildings
Around 1300, the first city walls were completed; monasteries and convents filled the empty spaces and did much towards maintaining the walls. According to legend, Charlemagne had the Grossmünster church built on the place where Zürich’s patron saints, the martyrs Felix und Regula, were buried. In addition, his grandson, Louis the German, erected the Fraumünster on the other bank of the Limmat as a convent for noblewomen. Particularly in this era when Zürich was a free imperial city, the abbess of the Fraumünster played a very important role; the convent was granted the right to hold markets, collect tolls and mint coins, thus effectively making her the ruler of the city.
Starting Point and Center of the Reformation in German-Speaking SwitzerlandSince time immemorial, the Grossmünster has been a powerful place, and particularly so at the time of Felix and Regula, as well as some centuries later, when, in 1519, Huldrych Zwingli was appointed the first priest of the Grossmünster church. Zwingli was against the mercenary army, against the selling of indulgences, and against everything that was not in the Bible. Thanks to his fighting spirit, he achieved that which the City Council had failed to do; he focused on the Word of God and banned from the Church everything that distracted people from following the teachings of the Bible. Zwingli filled people’s souls with new moral values. His reformation work was completed by his successor, Heinrich Bullinger, who, among other things, wrote the Helvetian Confession.
Religious refugees from the South settled in Zürich, bringing with them expertise and business connections, and the city gradually grew into a textile center. There followed the industrialization age, and with the construction of Zürich’s main train station, the railway opened up a gateway to the world. Thank to the structures mainly created by Alfred Escher, Zürich developed into Switzerland’s transportation, research and business center.
Metropolis of Experiences – Zürich in the 21st Century
Nowadays, 75% of all those who work in Zürich are employed in the services sector. However, former factory halls have not been left standing empty; new life has taken root behind ancient walls. For example, in the Zürich West quarter, which is now home to trend gastronomy and a wide variety of nightclubs and bars, as well as numerous galleries. Zürich has transformed itself into a destination abounding in experiences; conveniently located in the very heart of Europe, it offers a wealth of possibilities to enjoy gastronomy, culture, shopping, events, nightlife and nature. And all this seasoned with the best quality of life in the world !
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