Zurich's Grossmunster and Fraumunster

Zurich's Grossmunster and Fraumunster


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Zurich's Grossmunster and Fraumunster - History


Opening Hours

The Fraumünster Church is closed for groups during the Corona-Crisis.
For individual visitors, for personal preyor the church is open as follows:

Monday – Friday: 13.00 – 18.00
Saturday, Sunday and Holidays: 10.00 – 18.00

Please see our calendar for services, events, and special hours.

Fraumünster
Münsterhof 2
8001 Zürich


Zurich city center with famous fraumunster and grossmunster churches and river limmat Premium Photo

Bride and groom walk along the limmat river embankment in the city center of zurich, switzerland.

Beautiful panoramic view on austrian alps covered by snow at cloudy day

Water crisis and dry season in switzerland for infographics in 3d rendering

Aerial view on fraumunster church and the limmat river from grossmunster, zurich, switzerland

Aerial view on church of st. peter and the limmat river from grossmunster, zurich, switzerland

View on fraumunster church and church of st. peter at night, zurich, switzerland

Rapperswil castle in rapperswil-jona at lake zurich in the canton of st. gallen, swizterland

Rapperswil castle in rapperswil-jona at lake zurich in the canton of st. gallen, swizterland

Small flag of switzerland on a map background with selective focus.

Watercolor sketch of cozy street with swiss flags in old town of zurich, switzerland

Zurich s-bahn on uetliberg mountain

Zurich s-bahn on uetliberg mountain

Trees on the uetliberg mountain in zurich

Zurich s-bahn on the uetliberg mountain

Buildings at the embankment of zurich

Buildings at the embankment of zurich

Buildings at the embankment of zurich

Grossmunster, a biggest church in zurich

Zurich on banks of limmat river at winter evening

Night view of zurich city with view of fraumunster church in switzerland.

Panorama view of zurich city skyline with view of fraumunster church in switzerland.

Zurich city skyline with view of limmat river in switzerland.

Panorama view of zurich city skyline in switzerland.

Limmat river with view of landmark building in zurich, switzerland.

Sunrise with view zurich city in switzerland.

Grossmunster church with city skyline in zurich, switzerland.

Pink potentilla in a summer garden close up

Zurich city center with famous fraumunster and grossmunster churches and river limmat

Zurich, switzerland -23 aug 2018 - a landscape view of zurich on the limmat river and the lake zurich. the swiss city is a global center for finance and insurance.


24 Hours in Zurich Itinerary

Zurich, one of the top financial cities in the world, is the largest city in Switzerland. It is conveniently located near the airport, making it the perfect place to start (or end) your trip. This 24 Hours in Zurich Itinerary covers how to spend 24 hours in Zurich in Switzerland and see as much as you can.

Zurich is a colourful city known for high-end shops, fantastic views of distant Alps from Lake Zurich, great transportation links, and museums. It is a massive city and 24 hours to see everything is not enough. However, if you have a handy itinerary, you will see more than you expect!

To save time and money, I suggest getting a Zurich Card which gives you free or discounted access to Zurich's museums. Also, you can travel on a train, bus, tram, cable car, or boat for free. You can purchase the card from the airport, train station, or online.

If you are travelling around Switzerland, you should consider purchasing a Swiss Travel Pass. It is available for 3, 4, and 8 days. This pass gives you free travel on trains, boats, buses, trams and cable cars (some cable cars are only available at a 50% discount) in all Switzerland. Also, you will get access to various museums and discounts in the shops.

Before purchasing the Zurich Card or Swiss Travel Pass, I suggest doing some quick calculations based on your itinerary. Getting both the Card and Pass might be more expensive if you are not visiting many cities and plan not to visit many attractions.

As for this itinerary, I have put together a list of my favourite places that can be easily visited in one day in Zurich, Switzerland. If you are looking for a jam-packed day with lots of exciting things to do and good places to eat, this 24 hour Zurich itinerary is perfect for you.

Disclosure: Destguides may receive commission for purchases made through links in this article at no cost to you.


HOW TO GET TO ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

By Air

Zurich Airport (ZRH) or Flughafen Zurich-Kloten is Switzerland’s busiest and largest airport. It is conveniently located in the town of Kloten, about 10-15 minutes from Zurich city center. This means that public transport like trains, trams, and buses are widely available here to connect you to Zurich city center.

Zurich Airport (ZRH) is composed of 3 terminals: Terminal A, B/D, and E. Terminal A and B/D are connected to the main airport complex also known as Airside Center, while Terminal E is reachable underground by Skymetro.

You can reach Zurich Airport from many airports around the world as well as from Europe, e.g. Paris, Germany, Italy, etc.

By Train

Regular trains from other cantons in Switzerland and other European cities leave and arrive at Zurich Main Station or Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Zurich HB). It is centrally located in the Zurich city center next to Zurich National Museum and the start of Bahnofstrasses (Zurich’s main shopping street) near Zurich Old Town.

Zurich Main Station has 4 distinct tracks:

  • Tracks 3 – 18: Tracks located at the ground floor and used by long distance trains throughout Switzerland and international trains like TGV, Euro City, Inter City Express, and Cisalpino.
  • Track 21 – 22: Underground tracks served by SZU S-Bahn trains towards west and south like Uetliberg and Sihl Valley.
  • Track 31 – 34: Underground tracks served by long distance and S-Bahn trains to and from Oerlikon Station via the Weinberg Tunnel.
  • Track 41 – 44: Underground tracks used by S-Bahn trains running via the Hirschengraben Tunnel and Zurich Stadelhofen Station.

Fraumunster Church

It‘s a famous landmark, and everyone comes here, and every says their oohs and Aahs about the stained glass windows, but let‘s face it: every church has its stained glass windows, and unless you are a villager living in the 15th century that‘s never seen color before, well, a stained glass window is a stained glass window is a stained glass window.

But sadly, only the wise few know where to find the HIDDEN SECRET.

Because the HIDDEN SECRET is not in this church itself, per se, but right next to the church in a tiny alley way called the Kreuzweg. And what is this HIDDEN SECRET? It is what has to be the world‘s most mysterious and inspiring collection of miniature stone gargoyles!

Yes, that‘s right - miniature gargoyles. Not the big heads and demons and monsters carved out of the at the top of stone buildings to divert rain water - but rather a collection of dozens of tiny gargoyles, some of them just a few inches across. If you had an old camera with film you‘d need quite a few rolls of film to take a picture of each gargoyle, but probably most people don‘t even remember cameras like that anymore.

So . . .come to this church. Admire this church. Do the obligatory round of oohs and aahs under the stained glass windows. But to be truly impressed, step outside and go look for the HIDDEN SECRET!


A walk along the shores of Lake Zurich is a must if you’re in Zurich. Start at Bellevue and walk along the promenade, taking in the sights of the Swiss capital. You should also consider hopping onto a boat to take in the sights of the lake.

If you’ve got the Swiss Rail Pass, the cruise rides on the river are free! The river cruises depart from 'Zürich Landesmuseum' and are about 90 minute round trips. These take you on the river Limmat, along the Old Town, and onto the lake.


Zurich

Zurich, the capital of the Swiss canton of the same name which is the second largest and richest of the twenty-five Swiss cantons. The city is the largest in Switzerland, and has 200,000 inhabitants. It has a commanding position on the beautiful outlet of Lake Zurich to the west and east are the wooded heights of the Uetliberg and Zurichberg, and there is a fine view of the thickly settled and fruitful banks of the lake with handsome villages along the shore in the background towards the south and southeast is an imposing circle of lofty mountains in Glarus, Schwyz, Noi, etc. The climate is mild and healthful. The prehistoric history of the city and its vicinity extends back to the Stone Age, the first and second Bronze Age, and the Iron Age, as is proved by the discovery of numerous lake-dwellings and remains of graves. Probably even as far back as the time of the ancient Helvetii a town existed on the site of Zurich.

Historically the city first appears under the name of Turicum, during the period of the Roman supremacy in Switzerland at the beginning of the Christian era. Christianity was probably also introduced during this period. According to legend the Faith was brought to Zurich by members of the Theban Legion. Felix, Regula, and Exuperantius are the patron saints of the city. After the Allamani had conquered the northern part of Switzerland during the era of the migration (fourth and fifth centuries), Zurich became the capital of the districts or hundreds of Zurich. In the early medieval period Zurich was ruled by the abbesses of Fraumunster, the abbess being called “the great lady of Zurich”. At a later date it was a free city of the empire, and in 1351 it joined the Swiss Confederation, then the “Union of the eight old towns”. Like Berne and Schwyz, Zurich has an important place both in the early history of Switzerland and in its modern history. At the beginning of the sixteenth century it became the cradle and leading power of the Reformation in German Switzerland under the guidance of its pastor Huldreich Zwingli, who joined the Reformers the city was also the main supporter of Zwinglianism (as opposed to Lutheranism and Calvinism).

The city is built on the banks at the end of the lake and along the River Limmat, its outlet, and climbs the lower heights on both sides of the river. It is divided into the Old Town and the New Town: the latter is mainly composed of suburbs and surrounding townships which were formerly independent but which now are united with the Old Town. In the Old Town many houses still exist that are historically and architecturally interesting. The New Town has some very fine streets, notably the street leading to the railway station, which is considered one of the finest in Europe. There are large and small parks, finely situated. The city is governed by an executive council of seven members, the head of which is the chief official of the city the executive council is aided by the “great council”, a form of town parliament. Both official boards are elected by the citizens for three years all citizens twenty years of age who are capable of bearing arms have the right to vote. In religious belief the inhabitants are: 130,000 Protestants, 50,000 Catholics, 3000 Old Catholics, 5000 Jews, and 10,000 belong to no denomination. The most active religious body is the Catholic. The Protestants possess eight large churches, of which the Grossmunster and the Fraumunster are of much historical interest. The Catholics have three churches and various chapels, and two new churches are in course of construction they are cared for by twenty-four priests.

Zurich is celebrated for its schools. The sum assigned by the budget to the primary and middle schools of the city for 1913 was five million francs ($1,000,000). Among the schools are a large cantonal gymnasium, a commercial high-school, the cantonal university, the Federal polytechnic school, and the conservatory for music. In addition there are a large number of private schools and educational institutions, mainly attended by foreigners. The city possesses large scientific, technical, and art collections, and important libraries. The famous Swiss national museum is also situated at Zurich. As the banking center of Switzerland, Zurich contains the main Office of the Swiss National Bank, of the Swiss Loan and Mortgage Company, of the Swiss Banking Association, etc. It also contains an important stock-exchange, and silk, cotton, and grain exchanges. Zurich is a great center of continental traffic and a railway junction for traffic between the east and west and north and south of Europe. There are large numbers of religious and charitable societies and associations for the benefit of the public, besides learned, professional, and athletic organizations. The city contains large numbers of benevolent institutions, administered by the canton, city or private organizations there are excellent hospitals and sanatoriums. There is a fine hall for music with an excellent orchestra Zurich has also places for athletic contests and exhibitions of aviation.


The Fraumunster Church is located in Zurich’s city center. The church was built in 853 when Zurich was no more than a small provincial village. The church standing today, is not the original church but also dates back to 1250.

For over a 1000 years, the Fraumunster church has been a spiritual place of worship for the residents of Zurich. It isn’t a large church but it’s blue spire can be seen practically from everywhere. Today, Fraumunster church claims its fame with its gorgeous Marc Chagall windows.

Chagall Windows in Zurich: Fraumunster Church/, Picture by Hans Permana (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Why did they choose Marc Chagall to create the Fraumunster stained-glass windows?

Since 1960, Zurich city officials searched for a suitable artist to create beautiful stained-glass windows for their historical and important church. Despite an extensive international search, the city did not find a suitable or worthy artist for the job.

In 1967, Zurich hosted a large Marc Chagall exhibition in one of their major art museums. Many of his paintings in this exhibition were of whimsical images and symbolism withe the message of love, peace and faith. The exhibition impressed the Fraumunster pastor so much, that he decided to offer Chagall the commission of the stained-glass windows.

Chagall was 80 years old at the time and incredibly at the height of his artistic career.

It is said that Chagall sat inside the church and felt so inspired that he decided to take on this massive project, despite his age. Indeed it astonished everyone when 80 year old Chagall accepted this huge commission.

“Stained glass has to be serious and passionate. It has to live through the perception of light.” Marc Chagall Quotes.

Marc Chagall and Religion

Marc Chagall led a secular life in his adult years. However as a child, Chagall grew up in a very religious Jewish family in Russia. As expected of all Jewish boys, he studied in a religious primary school that focused on biblical studies.

It is therefore not surprising that Chagall, although not a practicing Jew, was extremely knowledgeable and felt comfortable around religious themes. In fact, many of his paintings throughout his artistic life included religious elements. Chagall’s religious background remained imprinted within his soul and he expressed it through his art.

Moses Receiving the Ten Commandments – Chagalls Biblical Paintings

The Jewish artist felt comfortable with a commission from the church as he was able to apply his broad knowledge of the old testament.

The Process of Making the Fraumunster Stained-Glass Windows

Chagall’s idea was to create windows in the choir zone behind the alter. He felt that this spacious open area would allow the worshippers to fully enjoy the views and the religious and humanist message of the windows.

Chagall’s unique painting style is often characterized by simplistic figures and elements. He also painted with bright colors and fragmented-like Cubism. This style worked well also for designing a stained glass. Chagall’s idea for these windows was to incorporate both Jewish and Christian symbolism so that the subject matter is meaningful for the viewer of any faith.

For over three years, Chagall put his heart and soul into this project. He sketched the design of each window from his home in Saint Paul de Vence, on the French Riviera. Once finalized, he worked in close collaboration with a glassmaking factory in Reims.

After the colored glass panes were finished, Chagall outlined the figures and elements in black. They were then baked onto the glass. Marc Chagall spent many weeks in Zurich supervising and directing the installation.

In 1970, Chagall finished the magnificent Fraumunster stained-glass windows

The Chagall Windows in Zurich & their Meaning

The windows in the Fraumunster church offer the viewer many interpretations.

  • Some say that the tall, long and narrow windows represent the vertical connection between the earth below and the heavens above.
  • Others say that Chagall’s use of blue and green represent earth’s main elements (water and nature) and red and yellow symbolizing the heavenly glow.
  • It is generally agreed that the vast amount of images in the windows symbolize the complexity of God’s creation of the universe

Chagall Windows in Zurich: Fraumunster Church
Photo by Dennis Jarvis (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The deep and vibrant colors of Chagall’s windows are the first thing that you will notice. On the north wall is the window of Prophets in orange and red. This window depicts Elijah’s soaring upwards into heaven on a chariot and a wretched Jeremiah, the bearer of news.

The window on the south wall represents the story of Moses and the ten commandments. This window is made in deep & bright hues of blue.

Three stained-glass windows occupy the eastern wall of the church. One window represents Jacob on his ladder wrestling with an Angel. Another window depicts The End of Days showing an angel blowing a trumpet. The third window, the “celebrity” of them all, is the green “Christ” window. It is the longest of all the stained glass windows.

CChagall Windows in Zurich: Fraumunster Church / Dede454 [CC BY-SA 4.0] Wikimedia

When to Visit:

The windows are best seen in the bright morning light as all five stained-glass windows illuminate the entire church. Those familiar with Chagall’s paintings, will recognize his colors immediately.

But just because you came here for Chagall’s stained-glass windows, don’t forget to check out the rest of the church. Its architecture and other features are gorgeous both inside and out. The entrance fee is 5 CHF and it includes an audio guide (available in 8 languages) or an illustrated brochure explaining the various sections of the church.

The opening hours are between 10am and 5pm. For more information, press here

In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love. Marc Chagall Quotes

If you are interested in an organized tour of Zurich Old Town, below are some wonderful options with a special stop at the Fraumunster Church.

(For some of the links on this page, I receive a small commission when you purchase. You don’t pay more when you buy through me and it gives me the chance to offer you all this great content for free! For more information, press here)


Watch the video: Grossmunster Zurich