Zurich Old Town or Zurich Altstadt (District/Kreis 1) is the historical and core centre of Zurich City. The Old Town district is divided into 4 quarters separated into east and west by the Limmat River.
ZURICH ALTSTADT - EAST (RIGHT SIDE OF THE RIVER):
NIEDERDORF – This is the medieval centre on the eastern side of the river where the Rathaus (old city hall) and the Grossmunster Cathedral are located. This area is also called Rathaus by many.
HOCHSCHULEN – The newer part of the Niederdorf area, also called the university quarter, this includes Bellevue which partly lies on Lake Zurich.
ZURICH ALTSTADT - WEST (LEFT SIDE OF THE RIVER):
LINDENHOF – The medieval centre on the western side of the river where Schipfe, the Lindenhof Hill and the Fraumunster Cathedral are located.
CITY – This is the newer part of the old town extending all the way to the Schanzengraben. From Burkliplatz, Paradeplatz all the way to Zurich Hauptbahnhof in the north.
The Old Town is best explored on foot, especially in the medieval part and perhaps doing so with a combination of taking the tram to make things quicker, easier and convenient. I bought the Zurich Day Pass (not the card) which was very handy since we were going to areas outside the city centre. The day pass is based on a 24-hour time and activated once you use it. Sightseeing on foot can take its own toll at the end of a long day so it’s wise to reserve those walking muscles for within short distance walks.
So come and follow me in this walking photo essay tour of the beautiful Niederdorf and Hochschulen Quarters in Zurich Old Town.
[To read the rest of the post and see more pictures, click the READ MORE link below]
MAP OF ZURICH ALTSTADT
I do not really think I have a favourite quarter because each area has its own special sights and quirkiness to offer. For this blog entry, I have managed to gather my pictures of Niederdorf Quarter and some parts of Hochschulen Quarter (Bellevue) and made some of them into collages. I will also create a separate post of the Lindenhof and City Quarters soon.
Locals fondly call Niederdorf ‘Dorfli’. The Swiss German dialect tends to add the diminutive form ‘li’ in their words which does not really exist in standard German, though. I remember a German colleague tell me about this and how she finds this very amusing. Well, this only makes me smile because we have the same thing in Dutch with the ‘tje’.
Map of Zurich Altstadt (Kreis 1).
As you can see in the map above, Zurich Old Town is split up into 2 sections with the Limmat River flowing through in the middle. This photo walking tour will feature the highlights of the right side part of the Old Town, the Niederdorf and Hochschulen Quarters, from the north, Central, to the south, Bellevueplatz.
There are many outdoor café terraces in Zurich but here in Niederdorf, you will see a large concentration scattered practically everywhere. On the riverbanks, on pedestrian streets, around the squares and even on tiny alleys. The quarter also has some cosy secret-like spots which are very ideal if you want to get away from the crowd.
I very much enjoyed taking pictures of the city and while I was putting up this entry I had to search for pictures of myself because I did not take much. Luckily I found this!
Moi on the eastern side of the river of Zurich Altstadt on the Limmatquai between Niederdorf and Oberdorf areas.
CENTRAL & HARINGSPLATZ
Located in the north, the square here in Central is a tram railway stop and hub. Central links City/Zurich Hauptbahnhof and Niederdorf through the busy Bahnhofbrucke (bridge).
The Niederdorfstrasse from Central is the main pedestrian street in this area. Niederdorfstrasse is actually a very long cobbled-stone street that slices through the whole quarter, passing by Haringsplatz and Herschinplatz before moving on to Martkgasse and Munstergasse in the Oberdorf area. You cannot miss this street.
One of the few nostalgic old trams running in the city.
Outdoor dining scene on the cobbled-streets of Niederdorfstrasse.
The weather was still perfect in mid-September to be eating outdoors.
And I cannot help of course but order my favourite ice cream for a perfect weather day like this: Pistachio and Citroen. Forget the calories for now, haha.
The Niederdorf Quarter of Zurich Old Town comes alive during the warmer months.
I love the very central location and lively atmosphere of this busy square. There are many boutique shops, as well as cafés and restaurants with outdoor terrace seating here, perfect for hanging out with friends over drinks and for alfresco dining. In fact, I came back here later in the evening for dinnertime.
This is a square not to be missed. Great for people watching!
This outdoor terrace area is just right around the corner from Hirschenplatz.
The painting of a medieval Zurich on the walls of Adler Hotel and Restaurant (Swiss Chuchi - offering traditional Swiss cuisine) on Hirschenplatz. I actually wanted to eat at this restaurant but it was full.
Outdoor cafes are everywhere here in Niederdorf, perfect for people watching =)
CABARET VOLTAIRE & DADAISM
For the politically and culturally curious, check out Voltaire Cabaret on Spiegelgasse corner Munstergasse.
Hans Arp and Tristan Tzara launched the Dada Art Movement (Dadaism) in 1916 and Cabaret Voltaire was its centre in Zurich. The avant-garde European movement was born out of antipathy for the social, cultural and political values of the time. Other important founders and contributors were Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Hugo Ball and Raoul Hausmann.
Visiting here reminds me of its similarities with Salvador Dali's art, which, I was lucky enough to see during a visit to his theatre-museum in Figueres, Spain a few years ago. It was a totally mind-boggling and out-of-this-world experience for me.
To learn more about the Dada go here: Dada Art Movement
I wanted to sit here and have coffee but I ran out of loose change so I asked the bartender on duty if they accept credit cards, well, unfortunately, they do not.
The Trump Show - "Eating with Donald" could have been a parody, I am sure. The show was not held at Voltaire Cabaret but they were promoting it.
NEUMARKT, NAPFGASSE & SPIEGELGASSE
These are my favourite (secret-like) spots in Zurich and I made a separate blog entry of these beautiful places – My Favourite Spots in Zurich: The Squares of Neumarkt and Napfgasse-Spielgasse
Both public squares have a charming fountain as well. Not to be missed!
When graffiti becomes art...
The Aepli Bar on Ankengasse, a small alley just before reaching Spiegelgasse and Napfgasse. This bar has live alpine cultural music show at night.
A beautiful facade of a shop on Spiegelgasse.
STUSSIHOFSTATT FOUNTAIN & SQUARE
This is also a very lively area in the Niederdorf Quarter with many bars and cafes on the sidelines. In the middle of the square is a memorial statue of Rudolf Stussi, the legendary ex-mayor of Zurich in the early 15th century, which also has a fountain.
Trivia: Did you know that all fountains in Zurich are drinkable?
This area of Niederdorf is just before reaching the Grossmunster Catherdal on Munstergasse.
This is Marktgasse I believe, the street that connects Niederdorfstrasse in the north and Munstergasse in the south. Outdoor dining galore everywhere!
One of the beer garden courtyards parallel to Marktgasse.
The Great Minster Cathedral, which is built after the 11th century is the principal church of the city. The church dominates the southern skyline of the Niederdorf Quarter if viewing from the Lindenhof Quarter, especially from the Lindenhof Hill.
I managed to go in but I cannot recollect taking a photo inside. One of the newer details of this church, which I find very impressive as well, were its massive bronze doors. I took a closer photo actually which came out blurry so this is what I only have.
The view from the Zwingliplatz of Grossmunster to the Lindenhof Quarter, the Munsterbrucke (bridge) and the Limmat River.
Bellevue Platz is another important tram stop and hub located in the southern part of Zurich Old Town. There are many swans gathering here on the waterfront's edge, just around the corner of Quaibrucke (Quay Bridge), Utoquai and Bellevue Platz.
From here as well you can access the Manifesta 11 floating pavilion on Utoquai, a temporary (2016) exhibit created by Swiss students about the thriving arts and bathing culture in Zurich. Yup, there is a bar and a swimming pool in the floating pavilion! Really cool.
For a backgrounder on the bathing culture of the city, you might want to read my blog entry about this subject here: Zurich, the City of Public Baths and Outdoor Pools
The lovely swans on Utoquai corner Quaibrucke being fed by curious tourists. This Zurich - InYourPocket guide is free. You can find these guides everywhere in town.
Bellevueplatz before (up) and Bellevueplatz now (below).
Travel Period: September 2016
Destination: Niederdorf & Hochschulen, Zurich Altstadt (Zurich), Switzerland
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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)
All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.