The Grossmünster

IMG_1032One of Zürich’s dominating landmarks, the Grossmünster – the big cathedral – with its twin towers, stands just up a small hill from the Limmat River. We see this view from our flat. The first week we were here we took a cursory walk through the building and a couple of photos of the outside. We’ve taken visitors on short tours, but recently I went down into the crypt for the first time when our kids were here.

I was surprised to see this statue of Charlemagne there. It is said that he founded this church when his horse stumbled upon the graves of Felix, Regula and Exuperantius, the patron saints of Zürich. Later, the reformer Huldrych Zwingli preached for religious freedom from the Grossmünster’s pulpit.


No photos allowed inside, so I bought a few postcards.

The current building, in Romanesque style, was started in 1090, completed in 1230. In typical fashion, the structure has undergone a number of renovations and modifications over the centuries. The north tower with the bells was originally taller than the south, and they were both destroyed in a fire in 1763. The current neo-Gothic tops were constructed and Richard Wagner called them two pepper dispensers. A copy of the Charlemagne statue sits high on the south tower, overlooking the Fraumünster church across the river.

Various stained glass windows decorate the inside.

These are by Augusto Giacometti (the cousin of Alberto Giacometti’s father). This Giacometti has other stained glass works in Zürich.


I particularly like the ones of these style by Sigmar Polke which are quite recent – 2009.


The huge bronze doors (1935) on either side of the münster remind me of the doors to the Baptistry of the Dom in Florence. This one is the main entrance.

The other entrance has reliefs of the saints, Charlemagne, the 18th c fire, among other scenes.

Additional information about the Grossmünster says there is a cloister and a side chapel, but I have yet to see where they are and to visit them.


One thought on “The Grossmünster

  1. Pingback: City Views from the Grossmünster | Glamping in Switzerland

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