Like all Zurich's older churches, the Grossmuenster had its interior pretty much stripped bare of its Medieval decoration during Switzerland's Reformation (I cannot bring myself to approve of this, although I understand why the actions were taken).
But you can still, if you look closely, see snippets of what the Grossmuenster looked like in its original form. This was a sacred site for many centuries before the existing church was built (between 1100 and 1230). It stands on a Roman cemetery and by the 9th century (800s) there was a Christian place of worship on the spot.
The first version of the building you see today had a northern tower which was taller than the southern, because it held the bells. The south tower was brought up to matching height in the mid-1500s and topped with a statue of Charlemagne which is now housed in the crypt. It is much battered, blackened and worn by time and the elements but is still impressive. Neither tower is today in its Medieval form; a fire in the 1700s destroyed both and what you see now are the rebuilt versions.
The Northern portal, on Zwingliplatz, is the way you go in...and it has a most wonderfully carved doorway. Take the time to look closely at the Medieval stonework: there are birds and beasts and foliage, some wonderful examples of 'ordinary' clothes of the time and...on the left-hand capital, a man playing a fiddle (perhaps to calm the breasts of the savage beasts on either side of him?).
There are a few Romanesque column capitals still visible inside the church (no photography allowed) but it is the wonderful stained glass which really catches the eye. Some was created by Augusto Giacometti in the 1930s but, for me, the very recent (2006) windows by Sigmar Polke were the church interior's highlight. Some are made from slices of the most beautiful agates, incredibly beautiful and colourful in the most natural way. I simply could not resist sneaking a photo.
You will, of course, visit the Grossmuenster. Make sure you go down into the crypt to visit poor, battered Charlemagne, make sure you closely examine the northern portal...and just relish those Polke windows!
You can also, for a small fee, go up one of the towers. But I didn't.
It would be very easy indeed to miss the Grossmuenster cloisters. The access is to the left of the entrance to the Gorssmuenter, up a short flight of steps and looking just like any ordinary wooden door in church buildings. But do try not to miss the cloisters out of your visit.
Admittedly, much of what you can see is restoration and re-creation but it is still worth seeing. The Grossmuenster was originally a monastery church (the present building was begun in the 1100s and cloisters....covered walks which have open 'windows' onto a central courtyard.... were a normal part of any monastery or convent structure, created for moments of calm contemplation.
The Grossmuenster cloisters were built in around 1180. They were rebuilt (or restored, or re-created..I'm not sure which) in 1850 and further restored in the 1960s. The wonderfully-intricate column capitals are Romanesque in style, beasts mythical and realistic, birds, foliage and humans intertwined. How many of them are original and how many are re-creations I cannot say but certainly some are original and you can definitely see a self-portrait sculpture of the original carver on the highest arch to the left as you enter.
Whether original or not, it is worth a visit just to see these magnificent examples of early Medieval stonework.
The cloisters are open from 10am to 5pm every day. Entrance is free.
There is also a museum about the Reformation accessed form within the cloister, although I did not visit.
As what their name say - Grossmünster (meaning great minster) is very big and dominate in Zurich. Architectonic design is Romanesque-style and this is a Protestant church. This church is one of the three major churches in the city (with the Fraumünster and St. Peters kirche).
The church was build near the banks of the Limmat River. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220.
The rather impressive twin-spired Romanesque church on the east side of the Limmat is the Grossmünster which played an important role in the Reformation that swept Europe in the 16th century. It was from this church that Huldrych Zwingli, a contemporary of Martin Luther, preached for more than 12 years against the Catholic church and its teachings, transforming the church into a Protestant house of worship and stripping the building bare of religious statues and icons.
The Grossmünster was founded long before Zwingli arrived on the scene; its roots go back to the 12th century when it was built upon the site where two martyrs were buried. According to legend, the martyrs Felix and Regula were beheaded in Zürich back in Roman times (around 286 AD) as part of a mass execution of an all-Christian legion of the Roman army. The two men refused to renounce their faith and were tortured before finally losing their heads. However, the legend continues that both men picked up their heads and headed to the top of a hill (now the site of the Grossmünster) where they dug their own graves and buried themselves.
After several centuries as a Catholic Church dedicated to the martyrs, who are now the patron saints of Zürich, the church entered its Protestant period through Zwingli’s efforts, making Zürich an important historical site for the Reformation.
The church was built as a Romanesque building, still seen today in its rounded arches and small windows. However, after a fire in 1763, the two towers had to be rebuilt. This time they were updated to a Gothic design, seen in the more pointed arched windows in the towers. During this time, the church interior was also updated to a fancy Baroque design, although this is no longer visible as the church was renovated and returned to its simple Protestant design in the past century.
The side portals (both north and south) of the church have rather nice bronze doors with reliefs of Biblical stories and Reformation stories. These were made in the 1930s and 1950s by Otto Munch.
On the inside (no photos were allowed) are some magnificent stained glass windows. Of note are the two of Peter and Paul in the rear of the nave. I was impressed at how detailed they were and how the folds of their robes appeared to look like cloth.
On the outside of the church is a more modern statue on the wall of Heinrich Bullinger, who succeeded Zwingli as preacher at the Grossmünster.
The towers may be climbed for a CHF 3 fee. It isn’t a really high tower (only 187 steps), but since the church already sits on a hill, the tower provides a great view of the surrounding area, the city of Zürich, and the Zürichsee. I did not make the climb this time since the day was so overcast. I plan to return to the church to do this on a clear day.
The Grossmünster is the most prominent church in Zürich. It is Romansque style temple that was created between years 1100 and 1220. Towers were erected in 1490's.
Significant thing from history is that the church Reformation in Switzerland started in Zürich Grossmünster and was initiated by Huldrych Zwingli.
Two twin towers of temple make Zürich old town skyline special.
Today Grossmünster is a Protestant church like a whole Zürich region is Protestant. Becouse of that church has simple interior without rich paintings and frescos.
The Grossmunster lies in the middle of Zurich's old town. With it's twin towers, it is the most dominating building in the city. The Grossmunster was built between the 11th and 13th centuries in the Romanesque style of architecture. The two towers were added in the late 15th century which is why they seem out of place with the rest of structure. It is possible to climb up one of the towers to take in views of Zurich and the Alps off in the distances. I recommend this only for the fit for it is quite a climb. The stain glass was created by the great Swiss artist Augusto Giacometti. Otherwise the church interior is rather plain.
The Grossmunster is open from 9am to 6pm daily from May to October and from 10am to 4pm from November to April.
Dominating the Zürich skyline, the twin towers of Grossmünster are the most prominent landmark in the city. It is the city's largest church (hence the name), built between 1090 AD and 1220 AD, in a Romanesque style, as a replacement to an older church. The previous church had been built by Charlemagne, supposedly over the tombs of the patron saints of the city, Felix and Regula, to whom Grossmünster is dedicated. In the 16th century, Grossmünster led the Swiss-German Reformation movement and it was converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, losing in the process most of its images, icons and other rich ornamentation, in accordance with the strict rules of the Reformation. Nevertheless, some fine Romanesque details still decorate both the exterior and the interior (where photography is not permitted). Its two towers, were added in the 15th century, originally topped with wooden structures, but a fire in 1781 caused partial destruction. The subsequent restoration saw the addition of the Baroque-style domed upper sections whose architecture differs from the rest of the church, but makes them so unique. Grossmünster also has some beautiful stained glass windows, many of which are quite modern.
The huge twin towers of the Romanesque Grossmuenster make it one of the most easily recognised landmarks in Zuerich. Legend has it that it was founded by Charlemagne soon after his horse dropped to its knees in this spot way back when. This legend also established the Grossmuenster as the most important church in the city. Until then, the Fraumuenster across the river had serious claims to the title.
Hukdrych Zwingli, the instigator of the 16th century reformation in Germany and Switzerland ran his operation from a pastoral office in the Grossmuenster and gradually it was stripped of many of the elements that made it Catholic e.g. Lent was abolished, the Mass was abolished as was any sort of church music (the organ was removed). The interior was stripped of all adornments including all of the statuary etc and it is still very plain today.
It is believed to still house important tombs dating back to Roman times. The patron saints of the city, Sts. Felix and Regula are said to be interred here.
Adjacent to Grossmünster is the chapterhouse, which contains the Romanesque cloister. Although the building seems to be of a more recent construction, the cloister itself is much older, completed in 1180 AD. The arched courtyard contains some beautiful Romanesque details, as in the attached photo. The chapterhouse is now used by the Department of Theology of the University of Zürich.
187 steps (no lift) to the top - approximately half follow the narrow, spiral staircase until a welcome opening on the first floor (a few relics on display) and from there on in more contemporary wooden stairs.
But once on the top, it is all worth while with more or less 360 degree views of the city of Zurich laid out before you from the four corner vantage points (you cannot take it all in at once).
Open 10am - 5pm (Mon-Sat) - ie one hour after the church opens (closes one hour earlier, Nov-Mar): 12.30pm-4.30pm (Sun). Entrance 2 Swiss Francs.
A Romanesque-style church, the Grossmunster is the largest of the three main churches in the Altstadt. Although construction started in 1100 and inaugurated in 1220, legend has it that the Grossmunster was originally commissioned by Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Emperor, in the 9th century, making it older than the Fraumunster on the opposite bank of the Limmat.
It is of particular historical significance as, with Zwingli the pastor of the church, it is seen as the birthplace of the Swiss-German reformation of the church against the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic church.
As such, as with the Fraumunster, it is extremely austere inside and no photos are allowed.
The towers were not added until the 15th century, and fire gutted the original wooden tops in the late 18th century, being replaced by a completely different style of architecture to the Romanesque of the main body of the church. But it this that makes them so distinctive, contributing to the most iconic Zurich landmark.
Access to the Karlstower (fee payable) is through the main body of the church (see separate tip).
The Romanesque Grossmuenster Church with its neo-Gothic spires is the main landmark of Zurich's city centre. It played an important role during the reformation in the first half of the 16th century.
The construction of the church started at in the early 12the century and the inauguration took place in 1220. The two towers can be climbed for scenic views of Zurich.
The Grossmuenster Church overlooks the eastern bank of the river Limmat. The nearest tram stop is "Rathaus" (line 4, 15).
Address: Grossmuenster Church, Grossmuensterplatz 4, 8001 Zurich
The Grossmünster (12 Th century) impressed me especially because of the sensations it allowed me when looking at it and visiting it in different times of the day and night.
Its twin huge towers transmit a sensation of power and strength. But at the same time, a peaceful and serene feeling when you look for little longer.
And to top it all up, you get great view if you are brave enough to climb to the top of the tower.
At the left side of the cathedral's entrance on Zwingli Square , you will see the Chapterhouse, now a university Theological Institute. Here you will find the cloister with its Romanesque capitals, built in around 1180, re-built and restored around in the 1850s. The Romanesque arched windows and capitals are carved with an entertaining variety of gargoyles, monkeys, dragons, humans and some other mythical creatures.
Monday to Friday
9 am to 6 pm
Grossmünster (great minster) (near Lake Zürich, in the old city), first building around 820; declared by Charlemagne imperial church
Originally founded by the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne, this Romanesque and Gothic cathedral has twin three story towers, which are one of the city's premier landmarks.