Located at the tip of the lake that goes by the same name, Zurich is the largest city of Switzerland and, over the years, has often topped the list of cities with the best quality of life. Permanently settled for over 2000 years, the construction of the lakefront in the early 20th century laid down the foundation of its journey from a medieval town to a modern city.
The summer months from June to September offer the best climate to visit Zurich, but peak season prices and crowds can be deterrents. For those who can brave the chilly spring and autumn temperatures, these are the best months to enjoy the sights of Zurich unhurried and unhustled. The Swiss Alps in the vicinity attract skiing enthusiasts during winter.
Zurich has been the venue for several art movements through the year, and it continues to remain a leading art-trading city. Besides the many museums, the city is home to more than 100 galleries. High quality orchestras, theatres, film festivals, dance and music parades, art and sculpture fairs tend to attract a culture-hungry audience throughout the year.
Something Old, Something New
The original Dolder Grand was built in 1899. Perched atop a hill just outside Zurich; with the turrets and the red and ochre colour palette it was designed to resemble a Swiss chalet. The recent reinvention extends far beyond a superficial makeover, resulting in a world-class luxury resort that straddles the past and the present with panache.
The extended wings are more fluid and contemporary but the colour scheme helps maintain harmony with the original structure. The balustrades are an interesting addition to the glazed façade of the extensions. Fashioned from aluminium, the stencilled tree pattern, on them, resonates with the surrounding forests. The interiors too are an eclectic mix, frescoed ceilings and high arches refer to the Dolder’s elegant past while plush fabrics and ambient lighting connect it to the contemporary present.
The spa in the new wing is one of the highlights of the hotel. The canyon-like space for the pool and an earthy colour tone create a cosy ambience in the 4000 square metre space. The walls are perforated in some areas to draw the sunlight in and create a play of light and shadow.
For art lovers the Dolder provides the additional pleasure of being surrounded by over 100 masterpieces strewn across the property. The Dolder Grand may span two eras but the Swiss eye for perfection serves as the binding factor.
Showing Its True Colours
A slender aqua-blue spire rising amidst the Zurich skyline heralds the location of the Fraumunster Church known for the stained glass windows created by Mark Chagall. The church is not the most impressive in the city in terms of size or structure, but the magnificent windows draw in the crowds.
All of Chagall’s set of five stained windows are 10 metres high and a different Christian story is portrayed in each window. The artist’s use of one dominant colour in each of the windows is considered to be symbolic by art historians. The stained glass rosette and the frescoes in the foyer are the other attractions.
It all started with old truck tarpaulins, used bicycle tyres and seatbelts. They were washed, designed, cut and voila the Freitag bags were born.
The Freitag shop in Zurich, much like its products, has been designed by finding a new use for something old. Created by stacking 17 freight containers, the structure looks like the handiwork of a giant baby at play with his blocks. Stocked with over 1600 unique handmade Freitag products, this 85-foot tall ‘recycled skyscraper’ is a fitting tribute to the process that fetched this label a cult status.
State Of The Art
For those who have not had their fill in the many art galleries that the city has to offer, the experience can extend into dinner at the Kronenhalle restaurant. Open since 1921, the restaurant has maintained its original ambience with the dark-wood walls and elaborate chandeliers.
But food and ambience take back seat here as the eyes move from one masterpiece to the other on its walls. Sketches and a self-portrait by Picasso, paintings by Matisse and Miro, stained glass windows by Chagall and works of many other masters; it is a wonder that the fork is able to find its way from the plate to the mouth whilst seated in this space.
Text By Himali Kothari