City History: Zurich

As almost every big city, Zurich developed through the time. Even though hardly anything is known about Zurich in prehistoric times, church influences, Zurich being a free city and the time of revolution are interesting enough to write about.

Although some prehistoric settlements have been found, it cannot certainly be said to which date the history of Zurich goes back. The Roman era also reached Zurich. After having conquered the Alps, Lindenhof had been chosen for being a military base in the year 15 BC. Some hundreds of years later towards the end of the Roman era, a castle had been built approximate to Lindenhof.


Between the 4th and the 9th century AC, not much is known about the development of Zurich. One does know that Zurich was under the reign of the Frankish Merovingian, of Ludwig the German who built a convent which was finally finished in 874, and of the Carolingians. Religious writers had influenced the city from the middle of the 13th century.


Historic Statue in Zurich


Zurich became a free city when the house of Zähringen died out in the 13th century. After that, Zurich as a city and its parliament can be found in different sources for the first time. In that time, the famous city walls were constructed and some cloisters were founded.

Zurich experienced a guild revolution in 1336, which meant that ruling merchants were brought down by the craftsmen. As Brun, the leader of the revolution, created an autocratic regime with two majors who alternated every six months, the reign of the merchants established with the time. Another important fact was that Zurich linked with Schwyz and Uri in the early 13th century and one hundred years later with Luzern and its surroundings. Due to that, Zurich was able to establish a territory which was similar to the nowadays canton Zurich in the 14th and 15th century.

As the guilds reigned the city, trade continued to decline. The good thing was that trading to places beyond the region with grain, salt and iron played an important role. Thus, the local economy was depending on the hinterland. In the 15th century, Zurich was given the appellation of a federal suburb.


A new era in the history of Zurich was the revolution led by Ulrich Zwingli. European significance could be gained due to the efforts of Zwingli and Heinrich Bullingers, as the politics were reformed as well. A religious civil war was the end of the status as a federal suburb. As the city was the head of Protestant Switzerland, it was a destination for refugees, who were responsible for a revival in industry and trade.

The 17th century brought changes into the cityscape in structural terms, especially due to its fortification. In the 18th century, Zurich experienced a cultural heyday thanks to a new form of textile industry like rural workers in cottage industries.

Another change for Zurich came with the Helvetic Revolution in 1798, when Zurich lost control and had to separate its possessions between 1803 and 1805.

In the 19th century, an economic upturn and growth can be seen when considering the democratic movement. When the system of Escher collapsed, Zurich was led into direct democracy. In 1833, the University of Zurich has been founded and later on, industrialization was important for migration into the city and thus rapid population growth.

Opera, a cultural center

Opera, a cultural center

Nowadays, the city of Zurich in Switzerland is a center for economics, science and culture. Especially the service sector has gained much importance.. With a great public transportation system, Zurich proved progress in every regard.


Public Transportation in Zurich


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1 Comments on “City History: Zurich”

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