How many tourists visiting Zurich, or any destination rush from one attraction to the next, ticking off a list of ‘must see’ sights, racing to the best coffee shops, and recommended restaurants? There’s rarely enough time to explore any city, let alone lift heads often enough to see anything other than the destinations ‘Top 10’.
In a beautiful city like Zurich, Switzerland this is a shame, there’s so many small side streets, secluded gardens, or hidden courtyards. Wrought iron gates, or shops signs, sculpted wall decorations, side street art galleries, and ornate knockers adding to the charm. These are the easily missed features, the less observant, or those rushing around may miss, they provide character to the city, the details which tell its story.
Zurich may seem a modern, cosmopolitan city, but it has plenty of quaint, old-world charm too. It is an old city, signs have been found of settlement from the first century, it was known as Turicum in Roman times, before becoming a free city in the thirteenth century.
A city wall, which originally encircled the town, has long since been demolished, but between the financial institutions, and boutique watchmakers there are still several buildings which are around five hundred years old. There are plenty of other old buildings too, often adorned with intricate wall decorations, and wrought iron signs detailing the original use of the building, a glimpse into the history of the city.
The fashion conscious find plenty of chic boutiques, lovers of fine dining many, varied restaurants, and chocoholics are in utopia. However there are also charming little shops that have sold their eclectic, and unusual wares for more than a century, these are the gems of the city.
One feature only the least observant of tourists can fail to miss are the fountains; Zurich has over 1200 fresh water fountains throughout the city. They include large town square pools, with ornate statues as well as H2O, small, pretty water spouts in hidden courtyards, and modern municipal sources provided to ensure the population has an emergency water supply. As a nice touch, they’re fitted with dog height placed drinking troughs, ensuring Rover can hydrate too.
The station entrances to cogwheel railways, and funicular style tramcars maybe tucked away beside coffee shops, or boutiques. They’re well worth searching out, as they are easy route to the high points of the city, where great views are usually found.
Down the many narrow, twisting streets, up the numerous lanes that climb the hills of the city, in hidden courtyards, or around charming fountains there’s usually something going on. People or wildlife watching, usually provides some amusing moments, adding to the undoubted appeal. Those willing to explore will seldom be disappointed.
Taking a cruise on the lake, visiting the nearby Üetliberg, or strolling along the Limmat are city attractions not to be missed, but looking up from guidebooks occasionally is essential. Take a deep breath, and long look around, not forgetting to look up too, enjoy the complete story of Zurich, it’s really all in the details.