Zürich: Elegant Shops and Chagall Windows
The Swiss joke that Zürich is zu reich and zu ruhig — "too rich" and "too quiet." While the city lives up to its reputation with elegant jewelry and chocolate shops, it’s also home to scenic Lake Zürich and the Fraumünster church, featuring stained glass windows by Marc Chagall.
Complete Video Script
Like many visits to Switzerland, ours starts in its biggest city — Zürich. While it's a major transportation hub and many just pass through, it's a powerhouse city and well worth a look.
The Swiss joke that Zürich is zu reich and zu ruhig — that's a play on German words for "too rich" and "too quiet." Sure it's rich…and there are livelier places, but Zürich is comfortable and it consistently ranks as one of the world's most livable cities.
Zürich's history goes back to Roman times. By the 19th century it was a leading European financial and economic center. Its people are known for their wealth and for working hard to earn it. Like most Swiss cities, it embraces its river or lake in a fun-loving way. The lakefront is a springboard for romantic walks, bike rides, and cruises. A great way to glide across town is to catch the riverboat, which functions like a city bus, and just enjoy the view.
Its old town is lively day and night with cafés, galleries, and a colorful cobbled ambience. Zürich's main drag, Bahnhofstrasse, is famous for its elegant shops. If you're looking for a fancy watch, stunning jewelry, or a $1,000 sweater…this is the place.
For more affordable extravagance — these delightful mini-macarons — a local favorite — may be expensive…but they won't break the bank.
The city's art treasure is in its Fraumünster (or "Church of Our Lady"): a set of five towering stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. His inimitable painting style — deep colors, simple figures, and shard-like Cubism — is perfectly suited for the medium of stained glass.
The windows depict Bible scenes — here Jacob dreams of his ladder — the traffic of angels symbolizing the connection between God above and Jacob's descendants (the Children of Israel) below. Old Testament images — King David with his harp, Moses with the Ten Commandments, and the angel blowing the ram's horn to announce the creation of a new Jerusalem, all create a cohesive message drawing you to the central window. Here, a jumble of events from Christ's life leads to the central figure in God's plan of salvation – a crucified yet ascendant Jesus Christ.
But nearby, the leading entertaining heavenly character in Zürich is its guardian angel. Hovering above the main hall in the central train station, she protects all travelers and adds to the energy of the station. Situated at the center of Western Europe, this major European transportation hub handles 2,000 trains a day zipping people all over Europe.