The hidden secrets of Zurich

If you can tear yourself away from the fondue, these little-known gems are a must-see! 


Zurich often conjures up images of banking giants and big dollar signs (hell, even chips are expensive!). And like most European cities, Zurich is a nice blend of old and new.

But, the last building you would associate with beauty is a police station and compared with the twin towers of Grossmunster and the bright spire of Fraumunster, Zurich’s cop shop is far from the most eye-catching architecture along the Limmat. However, it’s entry hall is something else entirely. Its domed ceilings are a field of red and orange florals. Painted by Swiss artist Augusto Giacometti in the early 1900s, it has been nicknamed by locals as ‘the hall of tiny flowers’. It is technically forbidden to photograph the fresco so, naturally, there are many images online (which you can see here). However, I’ll admit I was too much of a chicken to blatantly flout the rules in a building full of coppers. While Giacometti’s Hall is nice, I didn’t want to be seeing it from the other side!

Also along the Limmat is Fraumunster – recognisable as the church with the green spire. Built in the 9th Century, Fraumunster is far from the opulent Catholic cathedrals of Spain but inside is a rather unique set of stained-glass windows. The five windows were designed in the 70s by Marc Chagall and look wildly out of place in the medieval church! But, the colourful, almost primitive biblical scenes are quite beautiful, especially when the windows catch the sun. Photography was again forbidden but you can see some pictures here.

Even more modern than Chagall’s windows was a graffitied bridge by the lake. Likely a fleeting wonder of the city, the bridge’s art managed to capture the essence of Zurich perfectly – perhaps most so by this take on the Three Wise Monkeys. I mean, Swiss cows and their bells are kind of iconic!


For a different and very specific kind of art in Zurich, I am going to credit myself and my travel buddy. Some kindly traveller had left a deck of Cards Against Humanity at our hostel and lo-and-behold there were blank cards just ripe for the taking. Our most proud contribution was this Aussie gem: “sweating like a pedo at a Wiggles concert”. Look out for it if you want to inject some real class into your travels!

Quick Info

Stayed: City Backpacker/Hostel Biber. It’s the one hostel, but for some reason it has two names. Located in the old town, just one street away from the river, the area was perfect. Lots of restaurants below (if you don’t mind the noise, they’re a pretty good, if expensive feed!) The only two downsides were the stairs and lack of powerpoints.

Ate: Fondue for two. Seriously, how can you go wrong with a pot of melted cheese? It’s impossible! The place we chose was conveniently just below our hostel so points for that as well.

Saw: A lot of churches, banks and art. Shopping was expensive but managed to pick up a cute Swiss Army Knife.

Recommend: Doing a walking tour! There’s not much information at the historical sites so a guide was super helpful to fill in the information gaps. There’s also an adorable cafe with gorgeously decorated rooms that does a mean sundae. It’s called Cafe Schober.


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