Zurich (Swiss German: Züri, Italian: Zurigo, Rhaeto-Romance: Turitg, Latin: Turicum) is the largest city in Switzerland and is the capital of the canton of Zurich. The area was already inhabited at the beginning of the Christian era. Zurich is the financial and economic centre of Switzerland. All central banks have branches in the city. The Swiss stock exchange is located here, and it is the trading place for gold in the world.
Zurich is also known as a place for free thinkers. Lenin stayed here in pre-revolution times in Russia, and Dadaism originated here. The Irish writer James Joyce and the German Nobel Prize winner Thomas Mann are buried in Zurich. In the cultural field, there are many museums.
The Kunsthaus, in particular, has a widely recognized collection.
Important buildings are the Grossmünster, the Kunsthaus Zürich, the ETH and University and the Heidi Weber Haus by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier. The largest annual event is the Street Parade, on the second Saturday in August.
Location and cityscape
Zurich is located at the northwestern end of Lake Zurich (Zurichsee). At this point, the Limmat River leaves the lake, and the broad Limmat Valley begins. Zurich is sandwiched between the Uetliberg on the left bank and the Zurichberg on the right. About 1.5 km after the start, the Sihl River joins the Limmat. The Alps are visible from the city and the surrounding hills in clear weather.
In the early Middle Ages, Zurich was closely associated with the Duchy of Swabia and two spiritual foundations of the German kings (the Grossmünster and the Fraumünster). After the decline of the duchy’s authority and the extinction of the Zähringer family, Zurich was given the title of imperial city in 1262. Although this meant far-reaching independence for the city, Zurich could only break away from the Holy Roman Empire in 1648.
Developments in Zurich itself were jointly led from 1336 by the city gentry and the guilds (Zünfte). In 1351, Zürich joined the Swiss Confederacy to oppose the ambitions of the Habsburgs. Together with Bern, Zurich took the lead within the young federation of states. 1519 Huldrych Zwingli took over the city’s spiritual leadership, turning Zurich into a Reformation centre.