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Monday, May 30, 2011

Zurich Is A City Made For Romance by Jeff Halter

Don't be discouraged by Zurich's identity as the financial capital of Switzerland. Behind the business persona of the city is a romantic setting complete with snow-capped mountains, pristine alpine lakes and dreamy architecture.

Zurich is nestled within the Alps on the banks of the Lake Zurich. This strategic location provides a beautiful backdrop for the city making it one of the most picturesque in Europe.

The best place to start your romantic rendezvous is in Zurich's Old Town with its splendid public squares, impressive churches and museum against a scenic lakefront. Walk hand in hand along the water front and treat yourself to the beautiful churches of Grossmünster and Fraumünster.

The Grossmünster is the largest cathedral in Zurich and considered to be the city's icon. It dates back to the 11th and 13th centuries. The Rathausbrücke is the best spot to observe Grossmünster because it offers a spectacular view of the church reflected on the waters of the River Limmat.

After Grossmünster, proceed to the beautiful church of Fraumünster. Its elegant spires adorn the skyline of Zurich and its exquisite stained-glass windows are awe-inspiring.

Take a short walk to the Zunfthaus zur Meisen or the 'zur Meisen' Guild Hall across the Fraumünster Church. The guild dates back to 1757 and considered to be the most intricately built of all guild houses in Zurich. It displays a fascinating collection of decorated porcelains figurines and pottery.

The Swiss National Museum is also idyllic for lazy strolls. It is located on manicured parklands and surrounded by the Limmat and Sihl rivers. The imposing castle-like museum displays an impressive collection of objects representing the Swiss culture.

If you want to rest your weary feet, choose one of the fashionable cafes lining the trendy street of Bahnhofstrasse. The whole district is said to rival the shopping districts of Paris and London. You'll find everything Swiss in this commercial district such as Swiss army knives, Swiss watches and of course, Swiss chocolates. Designer shops and boutiques are also plenty in this area.

After you have recovered from the sights and scenes of Bahnhofstrasse, explore the many art galleries and museums of Zurich. One notable gallery is the Kunsthaus Zurich or the Zurich Art Gallery. It houses an impressive collection of several masters such as Monet and Munch. It also features a good collection of expressionist paintings of Kokoscha, Corinth and Beckmann. However, the galleries claim to fame is the collection on the works of Alberto Giacometti.

If you wish to take a look at works of art outside of Europe, the Museum Rietberg is the venue for you. It offers a wide collection of art from different parts of Asia such as China, Japan and India as well as several artworks from Africa. If cupid is at work on the day of your visit, you just might be treated to a wonderful musical concert in the nearby Park-Villa Rieter.

To cap your visit of Zurich, a visit to the other side of the lake, in Rapperswil, is a must. It has immaculate rose gardens and castles that are perfect for a lovers' day trip. If you took the train on your way to Rapperswil, take the streamer back to Zurich and recapture the old-world romance Zurich-style.

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