Saturday, November 10, 2012

Things to see and do in Zürich

Of course it would be nice to see any and / or all of these sights but I'm going more to see my second cousin who I haven’t seen since I was four or five years old along with his wife and son who I have never met. It’s really cool to have family all over Europe!

Fluntern Cemetery – Like many disgruntled pacifists, Irish writer James Joyce took refuge in neutral Zürich during WWI - although he managed to distinguish himself from most by writing Ulysses, one of greatest pieces of world literature, while here. Joyce returned to the city just before his death in 1941 and is buried in Fluntern cemetery. There's a statue of Joyce on his grave, so you can't miss it. This is a lovely spot and while here, you could pop into Zürich's unusually pleasant zoo. Alternatively just wander up the Zúrichberg hill and gaze down on the city.

Schiffbau – Symbolic of the renaissance of once-industrial western Zürich is the Schiffbau. Once a mighty factory churning out lake steamers and, until 1992, turbine-engine parts, this enormous shell has been turned (at considerable cost) into the seat of the Schauspielhaus, a huge theatre, with three stages. It is worth just having a look inside. It is also home to a stylish restaurant (LaSalle), upstairs bar (Nietturm) and jazz den (Moods, see Live Music above).

James Joyce's Grave – One of the greatest works of English literature, James Joyce's Ulysses, was written in Zürich and its author is buried here. Irish Joyce was just one disgruntled intellectual - Lenin and Trotsky were others - who took refuge in this neutral city during WWI, and he finished his epic during wartime exile here (1915-19). He returned shortly before dying in January 1941 and his carefully tended grave is found in Fluntern Cemetery; take tram No 6 to Zoo.

Fraumünster – The 13th-century Fraumünster is renowned for its distinctive stained-glass windows, designed by the Russian-Jewish master Marc Chagall (1887–1985). He did a series of five windows in the choir-stalls area in 1971 and the rose window in the southern transept in 1978. The rose window in the northern transept is by Augusto Giacometti (1945).

Le Corbusier Pavilion & Heidi Weber museum – The last item designed by the iconoclastic Swiss-born (naturalised French) architect, looks like a Mondrian painting set in parkland. Completed after his death, it contains many of his architectural drawings, paintings, furniture and books – collected by fan and friend Heidi Weber.

Lindt & Sprüngli – The Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate factory is just south of the city centre. An inexpensive day can be spent with a free museum (English notes on request), free chocolate and a rather self-congratulatory film is screened, free. You can even get there on a free city bike. Opening times are irregular at best but everyone waits for chocolate.

Bahnhofstrasse – Elegant Bahnhofstrasse is simply perfect for window-shopping and affluent Züricher-watching. The bank vaults beneath the street are said to be crammed with gold and silver. Above ground, you'll find luxury shops selling the best Switzerland can offer - from watches and clocks to chocolates, furs, porcelain and fashion labels galore.

Kunsthaus – Zürich’s impressive Kunsthaus boasts a rich collection that includes Alberto Giacometti stick-figure sculptures, Monets, Van Goghs, Rodin sculptures and other 19th- and 20th-century art. Swiss artist Ferdinand Hodler is also represented. The clumpy cement building itself is a bit of a horror.

St Peterskirche – From any position in the city, it’s hard to overlook the 13th-century tower of St Peterskirche. Its prominent clock face, 8.7m in diameter, is the largest in Europe. Inside, the choir stalls date from the 13th century but the bulk of the rest of the church is an 18th-century remake.

James Joyce Foundation – James Joyce spent much of WWI in Zürich and wrote Ulysses here. The James Joyce Foundation hosts regular public readings in English from Ulysses (5.30pm to 7pm Tuesday) and Finnegan’s Wake (7pm to 8.30pm Thursday).

Karlsturm – The firebrand preacher from the boondocks, Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531), began speaking out against the Catholic Church here in the 16th century, and thus brought the Reformation to Zürich. You can climb the southern tower, the Karlsturm.

Beyer Museum – A small museum chronicling the rise of timekeeping, from striated medieval candles to modern watches. It is inside a shop, whose display of precision time instruments is almost as extraordinary as the museum collection.

Migros Museum – A display of contemporary art, is one of two main museums in the converted Löwenbräu brewery, which also houses several galleries, a bookshop, a fitness centre and offices.

Schweizerisches Landesmuseum – A large cream cake of a museum. The permanent collection includes a tour through Swiss history, plus there are usually enticing special exhibitions.

GrossmünsterMore of Augusto Giacometti’s work is on show across the river in the twin-towered Grossmünster. Charlemagne founded this landmark cathedral in the 9th century.

Museum Für Gestaltung – Consistently impressive and wide-ranging, the exhibitions at the Museum für Gestaltung include anything from Bollywood to ‘short stories in photography’.

Cabaret Voltaire -- The birthplace of the Dada movement and it puts on exhibitions and shows, frequently with a dose of vitriolic social criticism.

Zoo Dolder – Up on the Zürichberg, has an expansive location, 1800 animals and a recreated rainforest. Take tram 6 to Zoo station.

Museum Rietberg – Set in three villas in a leafy park, the Museum Rietberg houses a fine collection of African, Oriental and ancient-American art.

Arboretum – Wander down the west bank of the lake in Old Town and the concrete walkways give way to parkland in the Arboretum.

Plakatraum – Draws on a huge archive of vintage tourism, Dada and other posters.

Kunsthalle Zürich – Features changing exhibitions of contemporary art.

Johann Jacobs Museum As addictive as the coffee to which it is devoted. The permanent collection includes everything from coffee pots to paintings of coffee houses.

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