A view of Zurich from above
If you want some views of Zurich from a bird’s eye view, I suggest two different attractions. In fact, it’s probably best if you go to both since they provide views of Zurich from the east and then the west. But beware: do avoid if you are deathly afraid of heights. The first is Grossmunster Church (Figure 1) on the east side of the river near Munsterbrucke. It stands out as the structure with two tall towers. If you have seen your share of churches and are not a church/stained glass buff, I’d say the church interior does not really stand out amongst the others throughout Europe. But of course, you can climb to the top for a small fee (4 SF, but just 2 SF if you are a student).
I paid the price and entered through a single wooden door that is fit for a person who is approximately 5’5” or shorter (you should probably duck a little otherwise). Then came a flight of stony spiral stairs that seemed to curl up to no end. It was not too bad going up, but I feared how terrible it would be coming down. I still persevered. Once the spiral staircase ended, the wooden stairs came (Figure 2). These were even worse. They creaked with every step, and it really made me worry that they would break under my weight.
Perhaps halfway up these wooden stairs, I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat when I saw some cardboard figures on a landing (Figure 3). I actually thought they were real people looking at me… I know it sounds stupid, but when you are pretty much the only one walking up this dark, rickety staircase, it gets pretty creepy!
When I finally reach the top, I was sweating—it was not from being tired but rather from being scared shitless (I apologize for the language). There was only one other person up there, an older gentleman, probably in his 70’s. He was kind enough to take a photo of me while I cautiously approached one of the stone railings (Figure 4). It was raining out, but I still tried to take some landscape photos (Figure 5); I might as well since I spent the money and energy to get up there.
Heading down was even worse than coming up (I guess it always is for someone who is afraid of heights…). The older gentleman had headed down before me, and I could hear his footsteps fade away as I began my slow descent. My palms became so sweaty when I realized that the steps were the size of half of my foot. Thus, I had to go down with my body turned sideways so that my feet would fit on the steps (Figure 6)! The entire way, my muscles actually felt like they were beginning to atrophy. By the time I got to the ground floor, I actually thanked God. When I walked outside the church, there were more stairs to go down to get to the Limmat River. By then, my legs were shaking and literally felt like Jello.
Of course that was not enough for me. Another tourist attraction in Zurich is Uetliberg, the “Top of Zurich”. It is basically the top of a mountain just west of Zurich. To get there, you can take the orange and red-colored S10 train (Figure 7) from the Zurich HB (main station). Make sure you know what the final destination is—it may be Uetliberg, which is perfect, but if it is any other stop in between, make sure you get off at that stop and switch trains!
Once you arrive at Uetliberg, you will need to hike up another 10 minutes to the very top (Figure 8). At arrival, you will be greeted by a hotel, a metal observation tower (Figure 9) and a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Unfortunately, when I got there, a cloud of fog hovered above Zurich and Lake Zurich. So I sat up there for a while just absorbing the awesome panoramic view (Figure 10).
As the fog began to lift, I decided I would try my hand at climbing the observation tower… I slowly climbed halfway up and chickened out because I felt the tower sway from the wind. I took a couple pictures really quickly and hastily made my way back down the tower. What a relief to be back on solid ground with a less foggy view of Zurich! (Figure 11)!
Despite the fact that I was scared witless, the views of Zurich are absolutely worth the climb, especially if you are not afraid of heights!
- Go on a clear day (aka no fog).
- Going to Uetliberg, make sure you check where the final destination is of the train you are taking!