St. Peter's Church

Zürich, Switzerland

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 here in 1360. The nave was rebuilt in 1460 in Gothic style. Prior to the Reformation, St. Peter was the only parish church of the town, the rest being part of monasteries. The first reformed pastor, Leo Jud (1523-1542), was a friend of Zwingli and contributed to the first translation of the Bible in Zurich. Johann Kaspar Lavater was pastor from 1778-1801. His gravestone can be seen in the church wall. Theologian Adolf Keller served as pastor 1909 -1924.

The current building was consecrated in 1706 as the first church built under Protestant rule. Its congregation forms part of the Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zürich. Until 1911, the steeple was manned by a fire watch. Restoration work was carried out in 1970 to 1975. The steeple's clock face has a diameter of 8.7 m, the largest church clock face in Europe. The bells date to 1880.

Church tower and largest church clock of Europe

The church tower was primarily used for fire police duties, and 1340 AD the first fire guard was set in duty. In the pre- and early Romanesque area, St. Peter had no church tower, i.e. the first massive three-storey tower was built in early 13th century AD. The first floor with Romanesque ribbed vault dates back to that period. In 1450 the tower was increased to 64 metres (as of today) and a pitched (helmet) roof was attached. That 24 metres high part of the tower was in 1996 re-covered with 42,000 larch shingles from the Engadine valley, since then being the only wooden roof in Zürich.

Towards the end of the 13th century a mechanical church clock was installed. In 1366 it was renewed and got one only dial that was directed towards the Limmat and only displayed the hours. Around 1460, the sense of time has been refined by half on the quarter-hour strike, and in 1538 the striking clock was replaced, and all four facades got dials. Replacements of the clock mechanism followed in 1593/94 and 1675 and 1826. In 1844 a new movement with quarter-hour strike was installed; the electrification of the work was carried out in 1873. In 1972 the balance was replaced by a fully automatic master clock in the clock room of the St. Peter's tower, and in 1996 the electrified mechanical movement of 1844 was shut down and replaced by a central computer system. The clock tower of St. Peter was for centuries Zürich's 'official local time', and all public city clocks had to conform to it. The church clock of St. Peter has the largest tower clock face in Europe, the outer diameter of each of the four church clocks measures 8.64 metres.

References:

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: c. 1230
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

Rating

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Slim Lab Zurich (17 months ago)
Nice story about the church and about watchman ...
lim ngo thong (17 months ago)
Nice place which can spend over for a hot beverage and rest your legs.
Joel Wasfy (17 months ago)
The biggest dial of all the Landmarks from Zurich. Stunning to watch during the day and astonishing through the illumination during the night.
Joshua Kaminski (18 months ago)
Not as photogenic as other churches, however it stands at an opening into a beautiful area to walk. And at an entrance near a bridge.
Zeglar (18 months ago)
Restrained example of Baroque style architecture. Quiet medative church in the centre of Zurich.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Kisimul Castle

Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.

Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.

The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.