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altGrossmünster, or 'Gross Monster' as it's lovingly referred to by English speakers, is Zurich's most important church and one of the city's most distinctive landmarks. The original church was supposedly commissioned by the Emperor Charlemagne himself.  It was also supposedly the burial place of Zurich's patron saints: Felix and Regula.  The present structure was built in the traditional Gothic style during the twelfth century and consecrated around 1220AD.  The twin, neo-Gothic spires were added in 1781 after the original wooden steeples were destroyed in a fire.

The interior of the church is actually fairly Spartan, aside from several modern stained glass pieces.  This is keeping with Switzerland's Protestant tradition.  Like in its sister cathedral Fraumünster, Grossmünster features the stained glass work of Swiss artist Augusto Ciacometti.  The windows are a unique modern style.  Another highlight is the statue of Charlemagne atop his throne on the south side of the church.  The crypt dates from the twelfth century, but much of its past glory has faded.

The view from the top of the tower is spectacular.  There is a small charge to climb to the top, but it's definitely worth it.  The church itself is a model of Swiss efficiency.  Even though it may be plain, it's still quite beautiful.  The inside is usually peaceful, and a good place for some quiet reflection.

Location: Zwingliplatz, Zurich
Telephone: +41 044 251 3860
Hours: Open Monday through Saturday 09:00-17:00.
Admission: Free admission to the church; charge for climbing the tower.


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