Back in 286, Zurich’s two saints Felix and Regula were decapitated in 286. However, according to legend, they didn’t die immediately, but managed to pick up their heads and walk up a hill to pray before they died. Many years later, Charlemagne was passing through the city, when his horse stumbled upon the tombs of the martyrs. He took it as a sign from above, and decided to build Grossmünster on the grounds.
The beautiful church with the two identical towers played a central role during the Reformation, when the preaching of Zwingli made Zurich the prime religious center in Switzerland.
The church is stripped from any unnecessary decorations, but the simplicity is enticing and there’s a peaceful air of dignity inside the building. The stained-glass windows are beautiful, but the most famous ones by Marc Chagall are over at Fraumünster on the other side of Limmat river.
The northern tower of Grossmünster, Karlsturm, is open to visitors, and after climbing almost 200 stairs, you’re rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city. The stairs are very narrow and steep to an extent which made it difficult to pass people on their way down, but luckily it wasn’t that busy the morning I was there. That’s in fact one thing I noticed and liked about Zurich. While there’s no doubt that the city receives its fair share of tourists, most of them just seem to blend in very well, and even the major sights in the city were delightfully free from that theme park feel, which is often part of the package. Yet another reason to love Zurich, but if you’ve been there, I’m sure you can come up with many more.