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Zürich from on high

When we travel we love exploring new places by just wandering and getting a feel for things, and checking out things that we have read about, both the must-see sights as well as places that are a little more obscure. But we also love visiting places where we have friends; it’s lovely to feel at home away from home with people that are important in your life, and a beautiful bonus is that by staying with local friends, you have access to a wealth of insider knowledge. Picking up some hints and tips about a place that you otherwise might not have known – especially when you are only there for a short time – can be invaluable, and really top off a stay in a new place (or a place that you are returning to, as it helps to reveal the place in a new way that you might not have seen before!).

Our recent short trip to Zürich was a case of the latter, and we had a simply fantastic time exploring this wonderful city. One excellent tip that our gracious hosts Esther and Stefan shared with us was that a trip up to the top of the Grossmünster was well worth it, for the amazing view afforded out over the city and lake surrounds. I didn’t need much convincing that this was a good idea; despite sometimes having a dislike for enclosed, cramped spaces located in high up spots, I have in the past had great experiences ascending to the tops of towers over cities given the chance to get a sense of space and layout of what stretches out below you. Some of my favourites from past travels have been the top of St Pauls Cathedral (London), the Belfort in Bruges, the towers of Sagrada Familia (Barcelona), the Campanile di San Marco in Venice, the Geneva Cathedral TowerPanoramapunkt in Potsdamer Platz , Berlin (another local tip!), and the Rundetaarn in Copenhagen (wow, just realised that I am getting prolific with my towers!). So, we took the tip, and after climbing our way to the top of the 187 mostly narrow steps to the top of the towers, we were rewarded with sights  in every direction that really were quite amazing.

The Grossmünster stands proudly as one of the three main churches in the centre of Zürich, but is the only one to feature two incredible towers.

The view along the deep blue glassy Limmat river and over the other spires of the city was quite breathtaking. In the shot below the striking spire on the left is that of the Fraumünster, which we also went into. The Fraumünster is home to a beautiful collection of Marc Chagall stained glass windows in the choir of the church which really are worth checking out if you are ever in Zürich (even more so if you are a Chagall fan!).

I really enjoyed gazing out over the reflections in the river and the teeny tiny roof tiles that seemed to be the norm in this city.

We were certainly fortunate with the clear Spring day that greeted us on our first day in Zürich.

Lake Zurich was looking incredible in the other direction too, and I only wished that it was a few degrees warmer so I could jump into one of the 18 open air lake swimming areas (I guess it’s a good reason for a return trip one day!). You can spot one of them to the right hand side in the photo below:

But one of my favourite sights from on high in Zürich was definitely the sight of the Swiss alps, in all their mighty glory.

The climb to the top of the Grossmünster was a great way to begin our day in Zürich, and it made us even more excited to get back down to ground level and continue our exploration of this sensational Swiss city.


Photos by PJD and CIA in Zürich, May 2012. Have you travelled to Zürich, or anywhere else in Switzerland? Did you love it? Is sightseeing from on high something that you like to do too?

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. The colours in that fourth photo really pop. Looks like the funky part of town.

    Travelling with locals is always excellent. Also funny when you go up Tokyo Tower, step on the glass panel floors, and realise said locals are looking at you like you’re a mad man.

    June 3, 2012
    • Like you were a mad man, or because in fact you are a mad man?

      We both loved the colours in the photo too – it’s amazing the difference the sun can make (oh, and changing exposure etc also).

      June 3, 2012
  2. Talking of being with a local in their own town, I went with a friend to a concert in the Fraumunster one cold, wet winter afternoon many years ago. As dusk came down, the gloom of the church was transformed: they’d backlit the windows! There we sat, listening to a Bach oratorio, gazing at those sublime Chagalls …

    June 5, 2012
    • Wow, what a concert experience! Sounds incredible, and something you wouldn’t forget, especially with the lighting, fantastic! The Chagalls really are sublime, I thought the use of colour was really interesting (blocking the colours in each window). Sounds like your locals also had the good tips of things to do!

      June 5, 2012
      • We’ve been friends for forty years – almost to the day, in fact. So yes, but basically now I just segue into her lifestyle and we do all the amazing things that people do …
        The Chagalls – it was wondrous. What more can I say? It’s interesting about the colour blocking – it adds charm and variation, but when I think of standing behind the alter under his axis windows in Reims, I can’t think of anything more glorious than drowning in that sea of blue air … How to compare? How lucky we are to have seen them!

        June 6, 2012
      • How great to have such friends!

        I haven’t yet had the privilege of visiting the catherdral in Reims, but I will remember it for the future – from what I have checked out on the internet the windows look like they might be even more incredible than those in the Fraumunster, so I am already anticipating a chance to visit there!

        June 8, 2012

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