Zürich Travel Guide
Zürich is the wealthiest city in Europe, and among the most expensive. It is one of the world's largest financial centers, home to such high-profile financial institutions as Credit Suisse and UBS, as well as the Swiss stock exchange. It is a money capital of gargantuan proportions, and the ultimate repository of the countless secretive numbered Swiss bank accounts. But just as importantly, Zürich is also the historic sanctuary for exiles – writers, thinkers, dissidents, ousted heads of state and endangered bigwigs fleeing their countries – the most famous of them all, Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, who took refuge here in 1917. Still, in all fairness to Zürich, there is more to the city than just Swiss francs and high-value runaways. Zürich is in fact the cultural and intellectual hub of the country, albeit German speaking, and the birthplace of the freewheeling Dada movement of 1916. It is also Switzerland's most intriguing city, at once historic, modern, chaotic, conservative, artsy, and fast-paced. Visitors from all over Europe flock to the city in droves, especially on weekends, just to shop, dine, browse, take in the (German) theater, and revel in the city's underground nightlife.
Zürich is situated on the Limmat River in the north-central part of the country, at the north end of Lake Zürich. The city sits at an elevation of roughly 1,300 feet (408 m), some 30 miles from the Alps.
For visitors to the city, Zürich has an interesting old town that spills over onto both sides of the Limmat River, where one can search out the characteristic guild houses on Münsterhof Square, browse in Zurich's most expensive shops along world-famous Bahnhofstrasse, and also admire a few singularly interesting churches, specifically 9th-century Grossmünster and Fraumünster, the latter with stained-glass choir windows by Marc Chagall, and St. Peter, which boasts the largest church clock face in the world. Schipfe, part of the hilly Lindenhof quarter in the old town, is worth traipsing through, unmistakably Old Swiss with its narrow cobbled streets. Among museums, the top draws are the Swiss National Museum, a hugely rewarding history museum housed in a 19th-century castle; the Zürich Toy Museum, which has over 1,200 antique toys from all over Europe; and Kunsthaus, which features artworks of several Swiss artists as well as a notable Dada collection.
For Zürich's party scene, the best bets are the Niederdorf area in the old town, which is packed with bars, clubs, lounges, restaurants and hotels; and, in the city proper, Langstrasse, which, besides having a fair selection of bars and clubs, also happens to be Zürich's legendary red-light district.
Zürich's most famous son is Carl Jung, psychiatrist at large, and its most famous writer, Johanna Spyri, author of Heidi. Its most famous food is Zürcher Geschnetzeltes, a traditional dish with sliced veal and mushrooms in cream' while its most famous treat is Tirgell, a Christmas biscuit made with honey.
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