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 with the Fraumünster across the Limmat throughout the Middle Ages. According to legend, the Grossmünster was founded by Charlemagne, whose horse fell to its knees over the tombs of Felix and Regula, Zürich's patron saints. The legend helps support a claim of seniority over the Fraumünster, which was founded by Louis the German, Charlemagne's grandson. Recent archaeological evidence confirms the presence of a Roman burial ground at the site.

Reformation

Huldrych Zwingli initiated the Swiss-German Reformation in Switzerland from his pastoral office at the Grossmünster, starting in 1520. Zwingli won a series of debates presided over by the magistrate in 1523 which ultimately led local civil authorities to sanction the severance of the church from the papacy. The reforms initiated by Zwingli and continued by his successor, Heinrich Bullinger, account for the plain interior of the church. The iconoclastic reformers removed the organ and religious statuary in 1524. These changes, accompanied by abandonment of Lent, replacement of the Mass, disavowal of celibacy, eating meat on fast days, replacement of the lectionary with a seven-year New Testament cycle, a ban on church music, and other significant reforms make this church one of the most important sites in the history of the reformation and the birthplace of the Swiss-German reformation.

Architecture

The twin towers of the Grossmünster are regarded as perhaps the most recognized landmark in Zurich. Architecturally, the church is considered Romanesque in style and thus a part of the first pan-European architectural trend since Imperial Roman architecture. In keeping with the Romanesque architectural style, Grossmünster offers a great carved portal featuring medieval columns with grotesques adorning the capitals. A Romanesque crypt dates to the 11th and 13th centuries.

Bollinger Sandstein was used for the construction. The two towers were first erected between 1487 and 1492. Originally, they had high wooden steeples, which were destroyed by fire in 1763, following which the present neo-Gothic tops were added (completed 1787). Richard Wagner is known to have mocked the church's appearance as that of two pepper dispensers. The church now features modern stained-glass windows by Swiss artist Augusto Giacometti added in 1932. Ornate bronze doors in the north and south portals by Otto Münch were added in 1935 and 1950.

The church houses a Reformation museum in the cloister. The annex to the cloister houses the theological school of the University of Zurich.

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Details

Founded: 1100-1220
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ognian Dimitrov (7 months ago)
Medieval gothic cathedral, inside is not very interesting. Most of the stained glass windows have been replaced by modern ones. Admission is free.The building itself is one of the symbols of the city.
Joao Soares (7 months ago)
Beautiful and very well preserved.
Patrick Tay (7 months ago)
Stunning church along the river
Praveen V P (9 months ago)
Lovely area to visit, especially around sunset. The history is more interesting and rich. The tower gives a wonderful view of the city if you are up to the climb. You should climb up and take a panoramic view of Zurich, particularly in the morning or in the evening. We can listen a nice classic music in the street in front of the Grossmünster. The architect is impressive. The stained glass is wonderful.
Akash Kilpady (10 months ago)
Was lucky to get a glimpse of the interior before they shut the church for the day. Typical Protestant church with historical ties to the Protestant movement by Zwingli in the region. The simplistic interiors are well balanced by the gigantic towers that are visible from a distance.
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