The Neumarkt triangular square and Nike fountain in Zurich Old Town.
The square and fountain between the narrow pedestrian streets of Spiegelgasse and Napfgasse in the Niederdorf Quarter of Zurich Old Town.
In Zurich, there are many nice places to see, explore and experience. However, Zurich is not a city that is rousing and intriguing as Amsterdam or London. Not even like Barcelona and Paris. On the surface, the city does not seem to have any trace of that conspicuous mischievous factor, which we usually notice and sometimes look for in a big city. I have to admit that a sense of promiscuity does give a city some (wild) edge. You know, excitement. Zurich’s allure, however, is nothing like this. More like subdued. She does not really flaunt herself to her visitors, like a seducer looking for a one-night stand. You come to her, of your own volition and free will.
Zurich, therefore, is what I call a very ‘proper’ city. She quite reminds me of Oslo and Helsinki. A very grown up and responsible city that you can always depend on. A perfect image of decency and sobriety. Except perhaps for the teasing display of public baths and outdoor pools during the summer months, which came to me as a surprise during the visit. After all, it is nice to see the Swiss exhibiting a darker shade of grey on this aspect, well, outside financial - secrecy - banking matters. *pun intended*
So yes, I have 2 favourite spots in the city, and I’ll tell you about them in a second and why.
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My 2 favourite spots in Zurich are both located in the Old Town, in the Niederdorf Quarter: The public square and fountain of Neumarkt and Spiegelgasse-Napfgasse.
These 2 places are small squares with fountains that just oozes with charm, culture and old tradition. Because of their size and location, both places looked like secret spots, a corner that is somewhat hidden from the outside world and from the busier pedestrian streets of the Old Town. I just love places like these.
FAVOURITE SPOT 1: NIKE FOUNTAIN & LITTLE TRIANGULAR SQUARE IN NEUMARKT
I have just sent off Bubbles and M on their tram to Zurich Hauptbahnhof. We’ve just finished a very late Sunday lunch and a stroll on the Mythenquai in the Enge District. They are on their way back to the airport to catch their flight to Portugal where they will continue on with their holiday before going back to Canada. So after sending them off, I went for a little walk in the Old Town, in the Niederdorf Quarter.
It was during this walk that I came across Neumarkt. It was, right there and then, a love at first sight. You know, like when your heart flutters a bit and you just cannot stop looking at it and taking photos, haha. The triangular square between Neumarkt and Spiegelgasse has a fountain called Nike and a resident café restaurant, the Kantorei that has a lovely outdoor terrace seating. The view of the square from the Seilergraben shows the Grimmenturm towering behind it, a medieval tower that was once part of the first city fortifications. It is a beautiful sight!
Suffice to say, this square is just charming on its own right, and moreover, it is nicely tucked away from the main busy streets of the Old Town. When I was here, it barely became crowded, with only a few people sitting in the terrace. It is peaceful here. From time to time, groups of tourists pass by, usually taken by the lovely backdrop they stop and take pictures. But as quickly as they have arrived, they quickly scuttle away as well, moving on to explore another street in the Old Town.
Other notable buildings on the street are the 14th-century Synagogengasse (Jewish synagogue), the Haus zum Rechberg where the city archives were stored, the Haus zum Mohrenkopf, which is the residence of the last Abbess of the Fraumunster Abbey, the Bilgeriturm and the Theater am Neumarkt.
I could not help but linger on here for a while, so I sat down at the outdoor terrace and ordered a ginger lemonade drink, locally made by the restaurant from fresh ingredients. In the next hour that followed, I did nothing much than just sat there and people watched. You know, like a travel downtime where you need to catch your breath and regroup a bit. I cannot stress enough how important this is (for your travelling sanity)! Well, I also took lots of paparazzi-style photos and managed to browse through the Zurich free city guide booklet.
This part of Zurich is the perfect place to breathe in the city’s traditional atmosphere. A great place for friends to sit down and catch up over drinks, read a book in peace and just savour the traditional charm this little triangular square has to offer.
The outdoor cafe terraces of Kantorei Cafe Restaurant around the Nike Fountain in Neumarkt.
The Neumarkt Street in the Niederdorf Quarter of the Old Town.
On the left side of the street, you can see the Theater am Neumarkt with the eloborate doorway design.
The view from my table in the outdoor cafe terrace of Kantorei in Neumarkt. I am facing the water fountain called Nike.
The view from the narrow street corner of Spiegelgasse to Neumarkt.
I enjoyed this home-made ginger lemonade by Kantorei. I love ginger, and I know that its aftertaste might not be a welcoming flavour for some people, but this spice herb rootcrop has a lot of health benefits.
FAVOURITE SPOT 2: THE SQUARE & FOUNTAIN BETWEEN SPIEGELGASSE & NAPFGASSE
I first discovered this charming medieval square together with Bubbles and M on my second day in town. We were just walking around the Old Town aimlessly when we came upon this a bit hilly square that looked more like a private outdoor courtyard of the beautiful guild houses surrounding it.
My first reaction was – Oh wow, this is a pretty, nice and cosy little square! Let us take selfies quick, haha! Well, of course we did =)
Restaurant Turm, Zunfthaus zur Letzi has an outdoor terrace on this charming little square.
There is an old fountain in the middle of this square, and there is as well a charming café restaurant on the corner of Oberau Zaune, the Restaurant Turm, Zunfthaus zur Letzi which has an outdoor terrace on the square betweem Napfgasse and Spiegelgasse. The terrace really made the difference as it gave the whole place instant oomph and cosiness.
This quiet square is also just a few metres away from the busy pedestrian street, Munstergasse. The square has this special aura of... so near, yet so far. I kind of like that. I probably would have spent a lazy lunch or a long afternoon drink here at the terrace if I have stayed longer in Zurich.
Well, what else can I say? This is a great place to hide away from other tourists and from the hectic flow of people on the main pedestrian streets. A little respite intimate nook so to speak. Just perfect for an afternoon (cafe) break in peace and quiet or even for a chill-out lunch and dinner. Sometimes we just want to get away from the noise and crowd, don’t we? But I can’t speak for the quality and taste of the food at this restaurant though, however, I can surely guarantee the lovely ambience of this somewhat (not so) secret square. Because it gave me that lingering feel good effect =)
Oh, I have a 3rd runner-up! The LIMMATQUAI, but this deserves another separate post. Stay tuned, people.
It looks like this little charming square and fountain between Napfgasse and Spiegelgasse does not have a name of its own?
Our souvenir photo of course.
Restaurant Turm, Zunfthaus zur Letzi. As you can see on the photo, this little square is a bit hilly, as it slopes down to the main street further, the Munstergasse.
Travel Period: September 2016
Destination: Niederdorf, Zurich Old Town (Zurich), Switzerland
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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)
All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.