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Stories & Secrets

  • Writer's pictureSamantha

7 Free Places in Zurich: Churches Edition

Updated: Apr 7, 2022

An Insider's Guide

Whereas you are stepping into one of Zurich's famous churches to find some solace from the weather, to admire history and architecture, or simply to slow down from the external hectic, you will always be welcome.

Here is a list of worship places that you will find in the city center or not far from it:

1) Waterchurch - the often overlooked one.

The entrance to this worship place is FREE. It is worth catching the limited opening hours to admire the fabulous Giacometti stained glass windows and discover the execution (CSI Zurich!) place of Zurich's former patron saints Regula, Felix & Exuperantius (crypt).

My Tip Nr. 1: Visit the church around opening time, especially on a sunny day, to catch the light flow through the unusually dark stained glass windows and inundate the nave with magnificent colors.

My Tip Nr 2: On Fridays, usually, you can attend a FREE concert from 12.30 noon till 1 pm (tips are appreciated).

2) Grossmünster Church (Great Minister)

The cradle of the religious Reformation in the 16th century holds surprising contemporary stained glass windows from Sigmar Polke and the colorful choral windows of Augusto Giacometti.

Despite its modest demeanor and sober mood, a serene atmosphere envelops the visiting guests. The entry to the church and to the Romanesque crypt is FREE.

My Tip Nr. 1: Crypt. As you walk towards the church's front, you will notice a set of stairs leading down. Follow them, and you will find yourself in the company of a

grotesque 600-year-old Charles the Great statue. You are most lucky if you catch a concert here, as the acoustics are heavenly.

My Tip Nr. 2: Definitely worth a visit in the morning while the sun shines through Augusto Giacometti's stained glass windows facing east.

3) St. Augustin Church

You will find this peculiar little church slightly off-the-beaten path.

Founded in the late 13th century by the Hermits of St. Augustine, this church is today the only Christian-Catholic church in the Old Town of Zurich.

Although catholic, the church retains a humble yet peaceful bearing despite pretty peculiar decorative details: An angular bronze crucifix, an altar abundant with Christian symbols, apocalyptic door handles, and colorful stained glass windows (1965).

Curiosity: The church building served as a mint factory and storage space for over 300 years after being closed during the Reformation.

Over the roofs of Zurich, the greenish tower of the Predigerkirche proudly stands out as the tallest (97m) one in the city.

As per is centenary tradition,

the Predigerkirche cultivates hospitality that asks neither for faith, a particular confession, nor origin, as it is open to all who seek silence, contemplation, or companionship.

From 2 to 5:30 pm, counselors lend a compassionate ear to those who need to talk with someone on weekdays (FREE and no appointments necessary).

Also available to all visitors is the "Bibliathek," with a comfortable reading and meditation corner situated at the entrance of the church.

In honor of the Virgin Mary, the Liebfrauenkirche, with its impressive Romanesque tower, was built end of the 19th century to accommodate the immense influx of Catholics from all over Europe.

Having conquered a small hill, here, as in the St. Agustiner Church, you will, most probably, be one of the few persons visiting the church. A peaceful oasis.

Moreover, the colorful mosaics will surprise the visitor that ventures into this imposing building: what a contrast to the simple decor in the Reformed churches of Zurich Old Town!

Curiosity: thanks to the Catholic cantos that voted Zurich (over Bern) to be the seat of the National Museum (Landesmuseum), the catholic community received this impressive church in the city in return.

The oldest parish church of Zurich is a peaceful and harmonious place of worship. The clock on the tower gives Zurich time since the late 13th century. It is the largest in Europe, with a remarkable diameter of 8.7 m (28.50 ft). The clock's diameter on the Westminster Clock Tower (a.k.a. Big Ben) is merely 6,9 m.

Looking at the tower, just above the clock, you will notice four small windows on each side: the city's fire warden lodged here from 1340 up till 1911.

My Tip: Take a moment to rest on the circular bench around the linden tree in front of the stairs leading to the church. This tree, or so the legend goes, transmits tranquility and peace to those who take a minute to enjoy the square beneath its canopy.

7) Fraumünster (Minister of Our Lady)

Several scenes of Zurich's legends and myths adorn the adjacent 100-year-old cloister, which is FREE. Entrance to the right facing the main entrance to the church (Under renovation till November 2021).

The bronze block in the middle is a monument dedicated to the last Abbess of the Fraumünster, who decided to spare the city a civil war and an unnecessary blood bath. At the onset of the religious Reformation, she surrendered and handed the abbey to the town as she recognized the changing times.

The church's entrance fee and the crypt is CHF 5.00, including an audio guide with multimedia information. Marc Chagall's five stained glass windows will take your breath away and leave you awestruck.

My Tip: at night, you can admire the window's magnificence from outside as well.

This article is part of a blog series about cheeper and free things to enjoy and explore in Zurich. Make sure to check out the other contributions as well!

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