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Zurich, Switzerland

July 30th, 2011

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Zurich park index:

Platzspitz Park

 

Zurich is a river city, and river city people like their waters, where the best of this city’s tourist attractions lie. Museums and parks, shopping and churches, restaurants and squares, you’ll find Zurich a delightful walking city. The city has Medieval roots, and whose Fraumünster abbey dates to the year 853. If you like history and architecture, along with narrow streets and a sense of being part of a culture, then Zurich is a must destination.

I like to start my tour by walking down Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most expensive shopping avenues in the world! Well, unless you’ve got the fat wallet, the Bahnhofstrasse shops are wonderful oddities that get you in the mood for any European vacation. And why not visit Zurich’s small parks, one of which, the Platzspitz, is just across from the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof), and at the confluence of the city’s two rivers, the Limmat and the Sihl. The Limmat feeds into Lake Zurich, at the base of the city.

Zurich has the reputation of being very expensive, but the fact is that you need not spend a lot of money to enjoy this beautiful and picturesque city. There are plenty of reasonably priced hotels and penzions, restaurants and street food, and the fee-based attractions are no higher priced than you’ll find in Rome, London, or Tokyo. I’ll say this again: Zurich is a walking city, and there’s nothing cheaper than foot travel, window shopping, outdoor photography, and people watching — with the occasional stop for a slurp of wine and plate of rosti.

The Landesmuseum, at the head of Platzspitz, is the national museum, set in a medieval castle in itself a fabulous tour. Here you’ll find Swiss history and art exhibitions, everything with a Swiss edge to it. Permanent and traveling exhibitions include photography, design, masterworks, and modern art.

Other museums include the Rietberg Museum and the Zurich Toy Museum. Three of my favorites are the Jacobs Coffee Museum, the Beyer Museum of Time, and the Kunsthaus, which is one of the most significant art museums in Switzerland and Europe. The collection of mostly Swiss-centric art is as impressive as the historic edifice itself, one of the most recognizable in the city.

The seat of Protestant Reformation in Europe, Zurich has many religious sights around Old Town (Altstadt) Fortifications and ramparts surrounded the city. Today, traces of these Schanzengraben, as it were, exist from Rennweg to Limmatquai, where cobblestone streets, shops, restaurants, and petit squares are found. As the Old Town is tucked between the rivers Sihl and Limmat, you’ll always be aware of history.

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