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Zürich from the ground

Lately, besides floating, I have also become somewhat obsessed with the view from ground level. Literally. The view of Zürich from on high truly was stunning, but there are many things which can catch one’s attention when looking up from the ground. Looking across the forecourt of the Grossmünster, taking in the semi-regular shapes of the cobbles, the texture of the grit between them, the green copper roof of the Fraumünster in the distance, the shape of the tree and the bright green of its leaves create a completely different sense of scale than the scene of the Alps from the top of its tower.

Turning around towards the Grossmünster itself, I was taken aback by its impressive door. Text and images are cast or carved into the panels, an impressive relief. As with other Cathedrals, when looking up from the ground, you really get a sense of the weight of the building, the strength of the stone, the arches between the towers offer a fine and lighter counterpoint to the weight of the doors. I was impressed.

There is something else about the cobbled streets, something about narrow, winding alleys and buildings that seem to lean into each other which makes me feel exhilarated. I grew up in a city that was, from its first day, planned. This means that streets are very wide, there is a definite sense of order. Even in the most well-maintained of European cities, the old quarters are always a little bit twisted on themselves, streets knotting together, opening out into large plazas where market stalls can be set up, or winding to an unexpected dead-end. CIA and I spent much of our day walking around the streets of the old city, losing ourselves amongst bistros, boutiques and stunning old houses. The cobbles really made an impression though, but maybe not as much as CIA’s red shoes.

When you keep an eye on what’s going on at ground level though, you can really sometimes find something funny. It may not be the most original stencil, but for sure it made us chuckle.


Photos by PJD, occasioning odd looks from passersby as he contorted himself to get the right angles and light.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is a wonderful aspect of Zurich – or any city. I particularly loved being at the level of the lettering on the door … phew! I got a glimpse of shooting from the feet, so to speak, when I took my first gondola ride last year (don’t ask why it’s taken 40 years to do that!) and thought it was a marvellous way to look at the city. I can see lying down is even better, but PJD, how would I ever get back up again!

    September 19, 2012
    • Well, I occasionally ask myself the same question, but as long I can still manage it, the photos from the floor will continue. (Look out for my “Europe from the ground” post – forthcoming).

      September 24, 2012
  2. Oh, it’s so perfect! I cannot wait to live in Switzerland.

    October 12, 2012
    • foldedcranes #

      Zürich is a great city – it’s not so big that everyone feels like a vaguely hostile stranger, but it’s big enough to have great restaurants, bars and cafes, great museums and great shopping!

      We loved Switzerland too – and I had a little look at your video – if you’re around there in the summer, you get an incredible view of the city, and the alps if you swim in Zürichsee (Lake Zurich).

      October 12, 2012
      • adventurousandrea #

        I’ve heard about the swimming there and definitely intend to! Yeah, I really like the size of the city. It just seems so friendly. How long were you there for?

        October 12, 2012

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