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 buried ...
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

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).