Founded in roman times as Salodurum and independent city state from 1218 and after the alliance with Bern 1295 part of the Swiss Confederation. From 1530 to 1792 the French ambassador to Switzerland was in Solothurn. Most of todays town center was built in the 16. to 18. century.
There is a excellent confiserie, Suteria, opposit the St. Ursen Cathedral with a very nicer Suter Solothurner Torte (cake).
There is a direct train from Zurich to Solothurn every half hour about 55 minutes, from Bern also every half hour about 40 minutes, from Basel every half hour about 55 minutes with a change in Olten.
Founded in 1194 as a cistercian monastery and rebuilt in baroque style by Franz Beer in the early 18. century, baroque organ in 1721 by Joseph and Viktor Ferdinand Bossard, sold by the Kanton Luzern 1848 for paying liabilities, then a kantonal "lunatic asylum" (still there), today some cultural activities, organ and baroque concerts (some are free).
Get there by train from Zurich (and Bern) to Langenthal from there to St. Urban, short walk from the train station.
Lucerne is one of the most scenic towns in Switzerland and well worth to be visited for several days but if you have only little time take a daytrip or a stopover (there are lockers in the trainstation for your luggage).
There is every half hour a train from Zurich to Lucerne taking 45 to 50 minutes, the first at 6.05 the last at 0.07.
I'm not absolutely sure if the architectural term is 100% correct but I was rather taken with the huge concrete building which stood opposite my hotel. It seems to be linked with a similar building on the opposite side of Walchestrasse. The one by my hotel houses the offices of the Kantonale Verwaltung Abteilung Wasserbau (I think this means hydraulic engineering for the canton...what we in the UK would call the 'Water Board'?)
Whether 60s Brutalism is the correct term or not, this is certainly a hugely chunky concrete structure. But it has some rather nice, albeit faded, mosaics around the entrance as well as a sub-Roman frieze with an oddly-behaved horse and several figures and a very buxom naked lady flaunting herself on the side facing the Limmat river.
The smaller building opposite also has mosaics around its entrance, which is why I assume it dates from the same time and had the same architect.
Anyway...if you are in the area (perhaps staying at the excellent Hotel Arlette)...do have a look. You'll find both buildings at the end of the Walchebruecke bridge, on the side opposite the Hauptbahnhof.
I was very impressed by the archaeological museum/collection which is part of Zurich's university.
The main room has cases displaying a range of artefacts, from Etruscan ware to Ancient Egyptian coffin portraits but it is the collection on the floor below which simply amazed me. It wasn't very well signed and was accessed by a set of stairs leading off the main room, so I wasn't quite sure where i was going.
The whole lower floor of the building is simply stuffed with Roman and Greek statues. It was a very weird experience to be entirely alone in a room full of so many incredibly realistic human sculptures.
But as I wandered and recognised some of the most famous sculptures...the 'Dying Gaul' (in Rome's Capitoline Museum), the porphyry 'Images of the Tetrachs' (on the exterior of San Amrco in Venice)....and saw more than 6 versions of one sculpture...I realised that all could not possibly be originals. And so it turns out; this is a 'castings' collection, which enables students to study sculptures which are distributed in museums throughout the world.
Even so, it is absolutely fascinating. I especially liked the shelves stacked with the heads of all the Roman emperors (I'm pleased to say I recognised some of them before I read the labels!) , Greek and Roman gods and famous Romans and ancient Greeks. It was nice to be able to put a face to some very famous names!
The Archaeologische Sammlung is free to enter and is well worth a visit. It's open Tuesday to Friday from 1300-1800 and Saturday and Sunday from 1100-1700.
The Liebfrauenkirche, one of Zurich's Roman Catholic churches, is quite modern but absolutely lovely.
It dates from 1893 and was built in the style of an early Christian basilica. It's tower looks like an Italian campanile and the interior is most beautifully painted.
I particularly liked the marble columns inside, the really beautiful wall paintings and decoration.....and the wooden roof trusses which are painted with the words of the creed (in Latin).
There's also a sub-Byzantine golden mosaic over the entrance, on the outside.
In common with many Swiss churches, the heavy wooden door opens automatically on the slightest touch (or, in some churches, before it is actually touched). That can be quite a spooky experience if you are not expecting it!
To find the church, walk up Weinbergstrasse from the 'Central' tram and bus stop across the river from the Hauptbahnhof. You'll soon see the church's campanile towering above you on the right. Open from 0900-1200 and 1400-1700.
Zurich (Turicum) was a Roman settlement, although not one which was important enough to be fortified. There is evidence of a Roman cemetery under the Grossemunster, a temple of Jupiter under what is now St Peterskirche and, of course, the Lindenhof...once a Roman customs and taxation point set high above the Limmat river (with excellent views of the city) and now a rather bare open space shaded by tress and popular with locals who wish to sit and ponder awhile (or play chess).
Fortified on not, Turicum was important enough to have its own set of baths. Bathing was very important indeed in a Roman culture not only did it keep you clean and 'de-stressed' but the baths provided an opportunity for meeting friends, making aquaintances, doing business.In short, what we might call 'networking' today.
You can see a tiny part of Turicum's baths exposed in Thermengasse, a narrow alleyway which runs off Schluesselgasse on the west bank. Excavations in 1983 uncovered a small area of hypocaust pillars (visible through a meshed metal surface) though I suspect the alleyway's name means that their discovery was not unexpected!
Zurich's Altstadt is where most visitors will focus their time but I wonder how many actually explore the narrow, Medieval alleyways above the Niederdorf's 'main drag' or those (far fewer, as far as I could tell) on the western side of the Limmat river?
Niederdorf's side-streets certainly repay exploration. I found a whole street of (imo) pretty ancient half-timbered houses in Schlossergasse, with adjoining streets containing more such examples. I believe Trittligasse is considered to be particularly picturesque but my attempts to take a photograph of its steep, cobbled rise from its downhill side were foiled by a professional photographer with large camera and tripod trying to do exactly the same thing...and taking ages and ages to set up his shot! :-)
The Anabaptist history begins in Zurich.
Felix Manz was born in Zürich in approximately 1498. He along with Conrad Grebel were the founders of the Swiss Brethren Church and the Anabaptist movement. Felix Manz became the first of many martyrs for both movements.
Manz was a scholar in Hebrew Greek and Latin and at the age of twenty years old Manz studied under Swiss Reformer Ulrich Zwingli at Grossmünster. Manz and Zwingli agreed on many reformation principles such as Solo Scriptura, Solo Faith, Solo Grace. They also differed on some points of how quickly to end church mass and then particularly Manz position on believer’s baptism and separation of church and state.
Felix Manz died by drowning in the Limmat River in Zurich on 5 January 1527 for refusing to recant his beliefs. By this time co-founder of the Swiss Brethren church Conrad Grebal died of the Plague in the summer of 1526. Zwingli had refered to Grebal as the Coryphaeus or leader of the movement, but when Grebal died Manz had the weight of the movement on him.
“Manz shall be delivered to the executioner,
who shall tie his hands, put him into a boat, take him to the
lower hut, there strip his bound hands down over his knees,
place a stick between his knees and arms, and thus push him
into the water and let him perish in the water…”
If you want to get out of town but not too far I would recommend a day out on the ferry to Rapperswil. The ferry ride is nice, the restaurant on the ferry is great and the views of the countryside were surpurb.
Rapperswil is a quaint little touristy place where you can window shop, wander around the little cobblestone streets and enjoy a refreshing local beer at one of the pubs on the waterfront.
We enjoyed our trip to Rapperswil. Check out my travelogues for the full story.
The Elefantenbach is a small river going down from Zurich-Witikon to Burgwies in a ravine. The highlight is the concrete elefant standing in the middle of the ravine.
The area is excellent for families as children can play and are out in the nature. You can also picnic by the elefant.
How to get there:
Tram to Klusplatz, then trolleybus no. 34 to Loorenstrasse, cross the road and follow the yellow sign.
From Witikon along the Elefantenbach to Burgwies (Tram no. 11) it takes about 50 minutes. If you want to hike further, you just continue along the ravine through the pedestrian tunnel at Burgwies and soon you will be near the botanical gardens. Walk through the gardens and out on the other side and continue down all the way to the lake and along the lake further to Bellevue.
I consider the Botanical Garden off beaten track as it is not the usual tourist site. But if you are in Zürich longer then it could be a possibility to visit this place. There are 3 greenhouses with the themes savannah, subtropical and tropical. They are open all year round (in winter till 4 pm). Entry is free of charge. In the warmer seasons the gardens are also used as park for relaxing or eating a sandwich for lunch.
BTW, there is a cafeteria but it is only open Monday to Friday.
On trolleybus no. 33 there is a stop "Botanischer Garten" or alternatively take tram no. 2 or 4 to "Höschgasse" and walk up.
The greenhouses are currently closed as there is construction work going on. This was in May 2011 when I visited with 2 VTers.
The Rhine Falls -- Largest Falls in Europe
Formed during the ice age, 17’000 - 14’000 years ago. While there you can visit the The medieval castle Schloss Laufen
On the hilltop. Schloss Laufen (Castle Walk/Run) offers facilities such as dining, refreshments and shopping. It is accessable by car with parking nearby. While there it was worth paying the small fee, 2F i believe, to walk down to the observation platform to get a close up view of the falls. Their also is a boat you can take that brings you to an extraordinary rock formation in between the falls. Below is some useful information.
Width of the Rhine Falls - 490 ft / 150 m
Height of the Rhine Falls - 80 ft / 25 m
Volume of flow
The average flow of water is 26’450 cubic ft/sec. In 1965 the maximum flow of water was 44’000 cubic ft/sec and in 1921 the minimum flow of water was 3350 cubic ft/sec.
Address: Schloss Laufen am Rheinfall 8447 Dachsen (ZH)
Directions: The routes to the Rhine Falls are clearly indicated (main route is A 4). Route Schaffhausen - Zürich, cross Rhine, exit ‘Schloss Laufen’
From Zurich by car.
Get maps at www.ortsplan.ch and search for
> ZIP 8212 City Neuhausen Street Rheinfallstrasse
(for access to the right shore)
> ZIP 8447 City Dachsen Street Lauferstrasse
(for access via Laufen castle, left shore) My Photo's are from the left shore.
You can also take a tour from Zurich. This website will give you some more info on it. http://www.ticketswitch.com/tickets/slink.buy/e.LPL/Rhine_Falls--Best_of_Switzerland_Tours--Zurich.html
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The beautiful little ‘City of Roses’ has a medieval character dating back to 1229, with romantic lanes and restaurants on the lakeside
We stopped in Rapperswill on our Heidiland tour - unfortunately snow meant it was definetly not rose season
We saw the deer park on the Lindenhof and the picturesque Old Town.
One tour "cityrama" allows you to cruise back to zurich on a boat which has a restaurant onboard, otherwise there is a steam train journey back if it is too cold by boat.
In addition to the Limmat, Zürich has a second river called the Sihl, which comes in from the south and joins the Limmat just below the National Museum.
This building on the banks of the Sihl turns out to be a theater, called appropriately enough "Das Theater an der Sihl", which belongs to the Theater Department of the Hochschule Musik und Theater (hmt), meaning the University of Music and Theater.
The second photo shows another nearby theater, the Theater Gessner Allee, which also belongs to the same university.
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