Thursday, November 7, 2013

A weekend guide to Zürich

Somehow, I was feeling rather homesick today so I decided to make a list of typical city sight that might come in use should you decide to visit Switzerland's largest city.

In Zurich you should not miss a stroll down the Bahnhofstrasse, the city's main shopping street with many attractions, especially before Christmas period.

Day 1:
Start off at Bürkliplatz (right next to the lake) where you make your own candle by dipping a wick into tubs of molten wax in the Kerzenziehen pavilion. All you need is a bit of patience but my kids love it!

Half way down the street is the Paradeplatz (home to two of Switzerland's biggest banks) where you'll find Sprüngli, a teahouse which sell Swiss macaroons as their speciality. They are better than the French macaroons and definately worth a try! ;) Melt-in-your-mouth truffles, light and delicate ‘Luxemburgerli’ macaroons, handmade dark chocolate, tarts and cakes are just a sample of the many sweet and tempting offers at the café.

Stroll to the Münsterhof nearby where you'll find the Fraumünster Church with its magnificent stained glass windows in the choir created by French artist Marc Chagall in the early nineteen-seventies, or the windows by Augusto Giacometti. Fraumünster, which literally means women’s abbey, belonged to the Benedictine convent whose abbess had wide powers in Zurich.ünster

Continuing along the Bahnhofstrasse at No. 62 you'll find Franz Carl Weber, a
never-ending toy shop on four floors with virtually anything you might be looking for, includes books and a pizzeria. The kids will love it!

Behind the Franz Carl Weber walk up the Rennweg. The name derives from “Rain”, which means slope. In the Middle Ages, Rennweg was Zürich’s widest street. The "Rennwegtor" gate stood at its lower end as part of the city fortifications. The "Fröschegraben" trench lay along the city wall, but it was filled in during the 19th century, and Bahnhofstrasse was built on top of it. Rennweg is the second most exclusive shopping area in Zürich after Bahnhofstrasse and its pedestrian zone invites you to stroll and linger. It will lead you up to the Lindenhof.

This spot, the Lindenhof,  provides a glorious view of the Old Town, Grossmünster Church, City Hall, the Limmat river, the university and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Lindenhof was also the scene of numerous historical events.
In the 4th century, a Roman fort stood on Lindenhof. It served as protection for the occupying Roman forces as well as the local population in the event of attacks by the Alemanni.
In the 9th century, the grandson of Charlemagne built a regal palace as a residence on this site.
This area continued to be a place for gatherings for Zürich’s inhabitants right up to the beginning of the modern era. For example, the oath sealing the Helvetic Constitution was taken on Lindenhof in 1798.
Today, Lindenhof is a haven of peace and tranquility in the heart of the city and a meeting point for passionate chess players.

At the end of the Bahnhofstrasse you'll find Zürich's main trainstation. Behind it, is the Swiss National Museum (in case of rain) called Landesmuseum on Museumstrasse 2 which is definately worth a visit. The museum houses the largest cultural-historical collection of objects in the country. The museum building is over 100 years old and reminds one of a fairytale castle.

If you like cheese and would like a good fondue for dinner go to the restaurant Le Dézaley in the Römergasse 7/9. The fondue prepared according to an old family recipe is definitely very tasty and also comes in a version with morels (mushrooms).

If you're looking for more Swiss German food head to the restaurant Zeughauskeller in the Bahnhofstrasse 28a. Situated in a mediaeval arsenal it serves good solid traditional Swiss fare: generous helpings of meat, sausages, schnitzel and roast. Popular with tourists, locals and lads out for the night, it’s a place where it’s easy to get to know people, as you share the big tables with other guests. Lots of fun.

Day 2
A visit to the Zürich Zoo and the Masoala rainforest. Elephants, rhinos, penguins and 20 species of monkeys are just some of the animals on the Zürichberg that will transport you into an exotic world – with all your senses. Explore the rainforest along a twisting path and gain insight into a typical rainforest dense with palms and inhabited by lemurs and turtles and discover sparse swamp areas with a myriad of brightly-colored frogs.

If you still have the energy, you can walk along The Niederdorf (Niederdorfstrasse) which is the old town running along the east side of the Limmat River. Filled with bars, restaurants, shops, cafes, and a few old adult cinemas, it also contains the Grossmünster church, which is a huge Romanesque-style Protestant church and also one of the 3 main churches in Zürich (the other two being the Fraumünster and St. Peterskirche). A perfect for a stroll during the day, as you can see a mix of the old and new amongst the winding alleys.

Voilà. This wold be my suggestions. Pick and choose as you like.
Following is a Zurich site that might be useful to you:

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