The architecturally imposing Grossmünster is one of the most historically significant buildings in Zurich and one of the city's major churches. With a past rooted in legend and intimately connected with some of Europe's most important events, the church is a place of enormous appeal to anyone with an interest in history.
Legends and mythical origins
Legend has it that the construction of the Grossmünster was ordered by medieval ruler Charlemagne after his horse halted on the burial site of two early Christian martyrs, Felix and Regula, and their servant, Exuperantius. All three became the patron saints of Zurich, and the distinctive Romanesque building with its two large towers was dedicated to them after its completion in 1230. The Grossmünster was a center of Catholic worship until the 16th century when one of the great leaders of the Protestant Reformation movement took to the pulpit. Huldrych Zwingili preached the new ideas in the Grossmünster for 12 years, turning Zurich into one of Europe's religious centers, and attracting scholars and theologians to the area.
A window to Zurich
The two towers that dominate the Grossmünster are among the most recognizable sights in Zurich, but these features shouldn't be appreciated from the outside alone. Visitors can ascend the 200 steps of the north tower to enjoy spectacular views of the city, including a fantastic look at the equally impressive Fraumünster Church across the Limmat River. While in the area you can also explore other parts of the Old Town, which is the area that contained the whole city until 1893. A cultural and historical melting pot with narrow and winding streets, pretty facades, and a charming vibe, the Old Town is an attraction in itself.