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



Details

Founded: c. 1230
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Travis Benson (5 months ago)
St. Peter's is a landmark that shouldn't be missed. When wondering around Zurich make sure you stop by and explore the grounds.
Amrita Deb Dutta (5 months ago)
Simple church. One of the earliest to open...so one can start zurich tour with this one
Fr.Justus Mounir (7 months ago)
St.Peter church is a one characterized by the big musical instrument which still working
Andreea Zuld (14 months ago)
Beautiful church, would have loved to see it on the inside as well, it was closed when we got there even though we arrived during the mentioned visiting hours on the website.
Martin Maechler (15 months ago)
Impressing historic Church, with a nice ex position about 500 years of the Reformation - back to the roots
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château d'Olhain

The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.

The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.

The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.

During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.