Top Historic Sights in Zürich, Switzerland

Explore the historic highlights of Zürich

Wasserkirche

The Wasserkirche ('Water Church') of Zürich was first mentioned around 1250. It seems likely that the original building was used for cult meetings. The meetings were centred on a stone now located in the crypt of the church. According to medieval tradition, the site was used for the execution of Saints Felix and Regula. The church was built in the 10th century and modified at various points, culminating i ...
Founded: 1486 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Grossmünster

The Grossmünster is a Romanesque-style Protestant church in Zurich. The core of the present building near the banks of the Limmat was constructed on the site of a Carolingian church, which was, according to legend, originally commissioned by Charlemagne. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. The Grossmünster was a monastery church, vying for precedence wi ...
Founded: 1100-1220 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Fraumünster

The Fraumünster Church in Zurich is built on the remains of a former abbey for aristocratic women which was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his direct authority. In 1045, King Henry III granted the convent the right to hold markets, collect ...
Founded: 853 AD | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

St. Peter's Church

Located next to the Lindenhof hill, site of the former Roman castle, St. Peter"s church was built on the site of a temple to Jupiter. An early church is archaeologically attested for the 8th or 9th century. This building was replaced by an early Romanesque church around AD 1000, in turn replaced in 1230 by a late romanesque structure, parts of which survive. Rudolf Brun, first independent mayor of the town, was bu ...
Founded: c. 1230 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Swiss National Museum

The Swiss National Museum is one of the most important art museums of cultural history in Europe. The museum building of 1898 in the historicist style was built by Gustav Gull in the form of the French Renaissance city chateaus. The impressive architecture with dozens of towers, courts and his astonishing park on a peninsula between the rivers Sihl and Limmat has become one of the main sights of the Old City ...
Founded: 1898 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Lindenhof Hill

The Lindenhof is a moraine hill and a public square in the historic center of Zürich. It is the site of the Roman and Carolingian era Kaiserpfalz around which the city has historically grown. The hilltop area includes prehistoric, Roman and medieval remains. Prehistory At the flat shore of Lake Zurich were Neolithic and Bronze Age (4500 to 850 BC) lakeside settlements. Lindenhof was largely surrounded ...
Founded: 1500 BC | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Predigerkirche

Predigerkirche is one of the four main churches of the old town of Zürich. First built in 1231 as a Romanesque church of the then Dominican Predigerkloster, the Basilica was converted in the first half of the 14th century, the choir between 1308 and 1350 rebuilt, and an for that time unusual high bell tower was built, regarded as most high Gothic edifice in Zürich. The abbey-choir building had been used for secu ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Kunsthaus Zürich

The Kunsthaus Zürich is an art museum in Zürich. It houses one of the most important art collections in Switzerland. The collection spans from the Middle Ages to contemporary art, with an emphasis on Swiss art. The museum"s collection includes major works by artists including Claude Monet (several works including an enormous water lily painting), Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Jacques Lipchitz and the Swiss ...
Founded: 1910 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Pavillon Le Corbusier

The Pavillon Le Corbusier is a Swiss art museum dedicated to the work of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. In 1960 Heidi Weber had the vision to establish a museum designed by Le Corbusier – this building should exhibit his works of art in an ideal environment created by the architect himself in the then Centre Le Corbusier or Heidi Weber Museum. It is the last building designed by Le Corbusier marking a radic ...
Founded: 1967 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Old Botanical Garden

The Old Botanical Garden is an idyllic oasis at the heart of downtown Zurich. Its history dates back to the year 1837. Today it is home to various old trees that give the garden its enchanting aura. The mediaeval herb garden, the “Gessner Garden”, is located on a hill and offers insight into 16th century knowledge of medicinal plants. The palm house is a protected monument from the 19th century and today is predomina ...
Founded: 1837 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Rietberg Museum

The Rietberg Museum in Zürich displays Asian, African, American and Oceanian art. It is the only art museum of non-European cultures in Switzerland, the third-largest museum in Zürich, and the largest to be run by the city itself. The Rietberg Museum is situated in the Rieterpark in central Zürich, and consists of several historic buildings: the Wesendonck Villa, the Remise (or 'Depot'), the Rieter Park-V ...
Founded: 1952 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Cochem Castle

The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.

In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.

The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.

In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.

Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.

In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.