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ZURICH

Zürich

The city of Zurich, a global center for banking and finance, lies at the north end of Lake Zurich in northern Switzerland. The picturesque lanes of the central Altstadt (Old Town), on either side of the Limmat River, reflect its pre-medieval history. Waterfront promenades like the Limmatquai follow the river toward the 17th-century Rathaus (town hall).

Zürich (/ˈzjʊərɪk/ ZURE-ikGerman: [ˈtsyːrɪç] see below) is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zürich. It is located in north-central Switzerland,[5] at the northwestern tip of Lake Zürich. As of January 2023 the municipality had 443,037 inhabitants,[6] the urban area 1.315 million (2009),[7] and the Zürich metropolitan area 1.83 million (2011).[8] Zürich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and Zürich’s main railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

Permanently settled for over 2,000 years, Zürich was founded by the Romans, who called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6,400 years (although this only indicates human presence in the area and not the presence of a town that early).[9] During the Middle Ages, Zürich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, became a primary centre of the Protestant Reformation in Europe under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli.[10]

The official language of Zürich is German,[a] but the main spoken language is Zürich German, the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and KunsthausSchauspielhaus Zürich is generally considered to be one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.[11]

As one of Switzerland’s primary financial centres, Zürich is home to many financial institutions and banking companies.[12]

Good to Know

Country
Switzerland
Visa Requirements
Visa On Arrival
Languages spoken
Swiss German, a German dialect
Population
402,762 (2017)
Area (km2)
87.88 km²

Early history

Settlements of the Neolithic and Bronze Age were found around Lake Zürich. Traces of pre-Roman Celtic, La Tène settlements were discovered near the Lindenhof, a morainic hill dominating the SE – NW waterway constituted by Lake Zurich and the river Limmat.[18] In Roman times, during the conquest of the alpine region in 15 BC, the Romans built a castellum on the Lindenhof.[18] Later here was erected Turicum (a toponym of clear Celtic origin), a tax-collecting point for goods trafficked on the Limmat, which constituted part of the border between Gallia Belgica (from AD 90 Germania Superior) and Raetia: this customs point developed later into a vicus.[18] After Emperor Constantine‘s reforms in AD 318, the border between Gaul and Italy (two of the four praetorian prefectures of the Roman Empire) was located east of Turicum, crossing the river Linth between Lake Walen and Lake Zürich, where a castle and garrison looked over Turicum’s safety. The earliest written record of the town dates from the 2nd century, with a tombstone referring to it as to the Statio Turicensis Quadragesima Galliarum (“Zürich post for collecting the 2.5% value tax of the Galliae”), discovered at the Lindenhof.[18]

In the 5th century, the Germanic Alemanni tribe settled in the Swiss Plateau. The Roman castle remained standing until the 7th century. A Carolingian castle, built on the site of the Roman castle by the grandson of CharlemagneLouis the German, is mentioned in 835 (in castro Turicino iuxta fluvium Lindemaci). Louis also founded the Fraumünster abbey in 853 for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zürich, 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 tolls, and mint coins, and thus effectively made the abbess the ruler of the city.