Published September 30, 2012
Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, offers a wealth of culture, pleasure and fun — especially with the snow-topped Alps on the horizon. Here are five sites to explore if you’re planning to visit Zurich:
Altstadt (Old Town) is a medieval section of town with cobblestone streets and alleys. A winding stroll through this neighborhood will allow you to take in gorgeous architecture, including Fraumunster church. Inside the choir of this church’s abbey, you can enjoy the colors of artist Marc Chagall’s famous stained glass windows—rich and bold. Lindenhof square boasts an over-sized chess set, and Bahnhofstrasse is a street renowned for its shopping. Altstadt is also home to several important museums: the Museum Rietberg, the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus Zürich.
Located in a villa that’s almost two centuries old, the Rietberg Museum is one of the greatest attractions in the city. The Rietberg Museum collects wonderful artifacts from Asia, Africa, Oceania and South America, and has an exhibit honoring many of Africa’s unsung heroes. At the museum, you can see how the people of the ancient Yoruba city of Ife (located in present day Nigeria) produced works of terracotta, cast metal and stone. The museum also holds Cham sculptures from Vietnam. Hindu, Buddhist and Jain sculptures and bronzes from all over India are on display, too.
The Chinese city of Kunming gave this small garden to the city of Zurich as a symbol of friendship and gratitude. As you pass under the decorated main portal to the garden, you feel almost as if you are transported to a new city entirely. A low wall surrounds the rectangular garden, blocking out external distractions, allowing you to focus on the pond, island pavilion and water palace in tranquility. The garden is an expression of the “Three Friends of Winter,” which are pine, bamboo and plum — three plants that can brave the cold season.
Not far from the Chinese Garden, you can find Le Corbusier house. Le Corbusier, whose full name was Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, was a pioneer of modern architecture and Switzerland’s most celebrated 20th century architect. This unconventional house made of steel and glass was his last completed building. It contains a museum that showcases his work. Le Corbusier house is only open for a brief period during the summer.
Lakeside Promenade is a park by Lake Zurich that attracts tourists and locals. It’s the sort of marriage between the urban and natural that makes one realize how special Zurich is. In the summer, the park is a popular spot for skaters, sunbathers, vendors and street artists.