Zurich is Switzerland's largest city, its financial and scientific center, ranked second in the world for quality of life in 2019. It is very diverse and atmospheric. Narrow streets with an air of deep antiquity and wide boulevards; spires of ancient churches propping up the sky; painted medieval houses, so neat and tidy, as if they were all built a month ago; the scent of blooming lime trees and festive evening illumination; dazzling luxury stores and a democratic "flea market"; mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, and deliciously delicate cakes with a variety of fillings; a huge picturesque lake, shared by dozens of swans and hundreds of seagulls; stained glass windows by Marc Chagall, paintings by Claude Monet and Salvador Dali — all this combines in Zurich! And this magic rests in the setting of majestic mountains.
Mountains surround Zurich, and its southern part seems to hug the northern shores of the lake of the same name, which extends far beyond the city (40 kilometers). Lake Zurich flows out of the river Limmat, which crosses the city in half. Administratively and historically, the city is divided into 12 districts. The central district can be called Altstadt (Old City); it is located on both sides of the river Limmat and is adjacent to the lake. Most of the attractions of interest to travelers are concentrated in Altstadt and its immediate surroundings. Tourists, for safety reasons, are advised to avoid visiting district number 4, especially Langstrasse, where migrants live.
There is definitely something to see in Zurich. There are a couple of dozen museums alone, from the famous Kunsthaus art museum to the toy museum and the streetcar museum. There are several ancient churches with a centuries-old history: Grossmünster, Fraumünster, and the Church of St. Peter. There is also the City Hall, the Opera House, and the whole of the old town with its medieval streets. There's also a nice zoo, a huge lake with dozens of swans, which are always ready to take treats, and many more interesting things.
Zurich and the entire canton, of which it is the center, are German-speaking. German is the native language for 77% of the population, and Italian is preferred by about 5% of the population. About 30% of the city's population are foreigners, primarily citizens of Germany and Italy. There are quite a lot of Serbs and Montenegrins. There are also a few natives of African and Asian countries. But in any case, German dominates in communication, so a knowledge of a few common phrases in German will come in handy for any tourist.
It is believed that the ancient Romans founded the city. At those times, there was a settlement, Turicum, which the Romans used as a customs point on the route between Rhaetia and Belgica, on the site of modern Zurich. Then, Turicum became part of the kingdom of the Franks. In the IX century, King Louis II built a castle here and founded the abbey of Fraumünster. And about a hundred years later, the modern name of the city appeared, Zurich. Later, the city became part of the Holy Roman Empire, and the emperor Henry III extended the rights of the abbey, even allowing it to mint its own coins. In 1262, Zurich acquired the rights of a free imperial city, which led to the rapid development of trade and commerce.
In 1351, Zurich became the fifth member of the Swiss Confederation. In the Middle Ages, Zurich went down in history as one of the Reformation's main centers, which was headed by the abbot of the Cathedral, Ulrich Zwingli.
As with the rest of modern Switzerland, the city was in the center of a clash of interests between powerful neighbors, especially Austria and France. Zurich nevertheless retained its status as a major trading and crafts center.
In the XIX century, the city experienced rapid economic growth and became the economic capital of Switzerland, giving up political primacy to Bern. By 1800, the city had about 10,000 inhabitants, but by 1900, it had grown to 150,000.
Thanks to its neutral status, Switzerland escaped the conflagration of World Wars I and II. However, in March 1945, the U.S. Air Force subjected the city to heavy bombing, mistaking the neutral Zurich with German Pforzheim.
Curiously enough, in Zurich (as in almost all of Switzerland), women had the right to vote only in 1971. In the Swiss canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden, however, women have only been voting in local elections since 1991.