Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland
and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. The municipality has approximately 390,000 inhabitants, and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million. Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport
and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.
Permanently settled for around 2000 years, the history of Zurich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago. During the Middle Ages Zurich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, was the place of origin and centre of the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli.
Zurich is a leading global city and among the World
's largest financial centres. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Also, most of the research and development centres are concentrated in Zurich and the low rate of tax attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters there. Monocle's 2012 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Zurich first on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within".
According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe
. Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Zurich also hosts one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.
Compared to other cities, there are few tall buildings in Zurich. The municipal building regulations (Article 9) limit the construction of high-rise buildings to areas in the west and north of the city. In the industrial district, in Altstetten and Oerlikon, buildings up to 80 metres (260 ft) in height are allowed (high-rise area I). In the adjacent high-rise areas II and III the height is limited to 40 metres (130 ft).
Around the year 2000, regulations became more flexible and high-rise buildings were again planned and built. The people's initiative "40 meters is enough," which would have reduced both the maximum height and the high-rise buildings area, was clearly rejected on 29 November 2009. At this time in Zurich about a dozen high-rises buildings were under construction or in planning, including the Prime Tower as the tallest skyscraper in Switzerland.
World Heritage Sites
The prehistoric settlements at Enge
Alpenquai and Grosse Stadt Kleiner Hafner are part of the Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Education and Research
About 60,000 people study at the 20 universities, colleges and institutions of higher education in Zurich. Two of Switzerland's most distinguished universities are located in the city. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) which is controlled by the (federal) state and the University of Zurich that is under direction of the canton of Zurich. Both universities were listed in the top 50 world universities rated in 2007.
ETH was founded in 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and opened its doors in 1855 as a polytechnic institute. ETH achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics and there are 21 Nobel Laureates who are associated with the institution. ETH is usually ranked the top university in continental Europe. The institution consists of two campuses, the main building in the heart of the city and the new campus on the outskirts of the city.
Zurich has a rich cultural tradition. In addition to high-quality museums and galleries, Zurich has high-calibre chamber and symphony orchestras and several important theatres. The Zurich Film Festival is one of the most important upcoming international film festivals. In just a few years, the Festival became firmly established upon the national and international festival landscape. Over the course of 11 days, it attracts both stars and new talents and celebrates popular international productions.
One of the largest and most popular annual events in Zurich is the Street Parade, which is also one of the largest techno and dance music festivals in the world. Proceeding along the side of Lake Zurich, it normally occurs on the second Saturday in August. The first edition was held In 1992 with about 1,000 participants. By 2001 the event had reached the size of 1 million participants. The Zürifäscht, on the other hand, is a triennial public festival. It features music, fireworks set to music, and other attractions throughout the old town. It is the largest public festival in Switzerland and is attended by up to 2 million visitors.
Opera, Ballet and Theaters
The Zurich Opera House is one of the principal opera houses in Europe. Built in 1834, it was the first permanent theatre in the heart of Zurich and was at the time, the seat of Richard Wagner's activities. Later in 1890, the theatre was re-built as an ornate building with a neo-classical architecture. The portico is made of white and grey stone ornamented with the busts of Wagner, Weber and Mozart. Later, busts of Schiller, Shakespeare and Goethe were also added. The auditorium is designed in the rococo style. Once a year, it hosts the Zürcher Opernball with the President of the Swiss Confederation and the economic and cultural élite of Switzerland.
The Schauspielhaus Zürich is the main theatre complex of the City. It has two dépendances: Pfauen in the Central City District and Schiffbauhalle, an old industrial hall, in Zurich West. The Schauspielhaus was home to emigrants such as Bertolt Brecht or Thomas Mann, and saw premieres of works of Max Frisch, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Botho Strauss or Elfriede Jelinek. The Schauspielhaus is one of the most prominent and important theatres in the German-speaking world.
The Theater am Neumarkt is one of the oldest theatres of the city. Established by the old guilds in the Old City District, it is located in a baroque palace near Niederdorf Street. It has two stages staging mostly avantgarde works by European directors. The Zürcher Theater Spektakel is an international theatre festival, ranking among the most important European festivals for contemporary performing arts.
Nightlife and Clubbing
Zurich offers a great deal of variety when it comes to night-time leisure. It is the host city of the world-famous Street Parade, which takes place in August every year. The most famous districts for Nightlife are the Niederdorf in the old town with bars, restaurants, lounges, hotels, clubs, etc. and a lot of fashion shops for a young and stylish public and the Langstrasse in the districts 4 and 5 of the city.
There are authentic amusements: Brazilian bars, punk clubs, HipHop stages, Caribic restaurants, arthouse-cinemas, Turkish kebabs and Italian espresso-bars, but also sex shops or the famous red light district of Zurich. In the past ten years new parts of the city have risen into the spotlight. Notably, the area known as Zurich West in district 5, near the Escher-Wyss square and the S-Bahn Station of Zurich Hardbrücke.
The people of Zurich enjoy an active lifestyle and sport is an integral part of Swiss culture and society. The abundance of international sporting facilities make Zurich an attractive place for sport lovers and several international sport federations are located in the city. Association football is an essential aspect of sports in Zurich. The city is home to two major Swiss football teams listed in Switzerland's highest league; Grasshopper-Club Zürich founded in 1886 and FC Zürich which has existed since 1896. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) is headquartered in the city. In 2007 were inaugurated the new FIFA headquarters building, designed by architect Tilla Theus.
Among the most popular sports in Switzerland is ice hockey. In Zurich it is represented by the ZSC Lions. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) officiating as head organisation for ice hockey leagues worldwide is based in Zurich as well. Biking is a popular sport as well as a mean of transport in Zurich. Biking routes are generally marked with red and white signs and the yellow lanes are exclusively meant for the bikers.
Also hiking trails are well marked with yellow signs, which give the hiker the probable time it will take him to reach his destination. There are specific maps available for hiking and walking trails throughout Switzerland. Some of the most accessible walks in the Zurich area are the Üetliberg and the Zürichberg. As many as 30 clubs and 7 indoor Curling facilities can be found in the greater Zurich area. The Curling season starts in early September and continues until the end of April.
Weltklasse Zürich, sometimes referred to as the one day Olympics, is one of prestigious one day athletics meet held annually at the Letzigrund Stadium. The Weltklasse is reputed as one of the best and most classy athlete meet in the world after the Olympics. Since it started on 12 August 1928, the sporting event has witnessed new world records and national records. Till date as many as 24 world records were set in Weltklasse.
Zurich Marathon is a popular sport event, inviting numerous athletes from every corner of the globe. Zurich Marathon is a long distance running event, covering 42.195 kilometres (26.219 mi) at one stretch. The running course starts from Zurich and passes through Bahnhofstrasse, Bellevue, Mythenquai, Quaibrücke, Talstrasse and Utoquai, and along Lake Zurich to several other places. New Year's Eve run is another important running event.
The race is held on 1 January each year and the start takes place at midnight exactly.Zurich was one of six venues of the 1954 FIFA World Cup and one of eight venues of the UEFA Euro 2008. The Euro 2008 games were held in the Letzigrund Stadium. Work on the new Letzigrund was completed in exceptionally quick time and the stadium opened in August 2007 just one year after the demolition of the old arena.
Most of Zurich's sights are located within the area on either side of the Limmat river, between the Main railway station and Lake Zurich. The churches and houses of the old town are clustered here, as are the most expensive shops along the famous Bahnhofstrasse. The Lindenhof in the old town is the historical site of the Roman castle, and the later Carolingian Imperial Palace.