Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. Zurich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centres. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Also, most of the research and development centres are concentrated in Zurich and the low rate of tax attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters there. The earliest known form of the city's name is Turicum, attested on a tombstone of the late 2nd century AD in the form STA(tio) TURICEN(sis) ("Turicum tax post").
Settlements of the Neolithic and Bronze Age were found around Lake Zurich. Traces of pre-Roman Celtic, La Tène settlements were discovered near the Lindenhof hill. In Roman times, Turicum was a tax-collecting point at the border of Gallia Belgica (from AD 90 Germania superior) and Raetia for goods trafficked on the Limmat river. After Emperor Constantine’s reforms in AD 318, the border between Gaul and Italy (two of the four praetorian prefectures of the Roman Empire) was located east of Turicum, crossing the River Linth between Lake Walen and Lake Zurich, where a castle and garrison looked over Turicum’s safety.
In the 5th century, the Germanic Alamanni tribe settled in the Swiss plateau. The Roman castle remained standing until the 7th century. A Carolingian castle, built on the site of the Roman castle by the grandson of Charlemagne, Louis the German, is mentioned in 835 (in castro Turicino iuxta fluvium Lindemaci). Louis also founded the Fraumünster abbey in 853 for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his direct authority. In 1045, King Henry III granted the convent the right to hold markets, collect tolls, and mint coins, and thus effectively made the abbess the ruler of the city.
Emperor Frederick II promoted the abbess of the Fraumünster to the rank of a duchess in 1234. The abbess nominated the mayor, and she frequently delegated the minting of coins to citizens of the city. The political power of the convent slowly waned in the 14th century, beginning with the establishment of the Zunftordnung (guild laws) in 1336 by Rudolf Brun, who also became the first independent mayor, i.e. not nominated by the abbess.
The Zurich Film Festival is one of the most important upcoming international film festivals. In just a few years, the Festival became firmly established upon the national and international festival landscape. Over the course of 11 days, it attracts both stars and new talents and celebrates popular international productions.
Zurich offers a great deal of variety when it comes to night-time leisure. The most famous districts for Nightlife are the Niederdorf in the old town with bars, restaurants, lounges, hotels, clubs, etc. and a lot of fashion shops for a young and stylish public and the Langstrasse in the districts 4 and 5 of the city. There are authentic amusements: Brazilian bars, punk clubs, HipHop stages, Caribic restaurants, arthouse-cinemas, Turkish kebabs and Italian espresso-bars, but also sex shops or the famous red light district of Zurich.
- The Grossmünster ("great minster") is a Romanesque-style Protestant church. It is one of the three major churches in the city (the others being the Fraumünster and St. Peterskirche). The core of the present building near the banks of the Limmat River was constructed on the site of a Carolingian church, which was, according to legend, originally commissioned by Charlemagne. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. The Grossmünster was a monastery church, vying for precedence with the Fraumünster across the Limmat throughout the Middle Ages. According to legend, the Grossmünster was founded by Charlemagne, whose horse fell to its knees over the tombs of Felix and Regula, Zürich's patron saints. The legend helps support a claim of seniority over the Fraumünster, which was founded by Louis the German, Charlemagne's grandson. Recent archaeological evidence confirms the presence of a Roman burial ground at the site.
- The Kunsthaus Zürich houses one of the most important art museums in Switzerland and Europe], collected by the local art association called Zürcher Kunstgesellschaft, and holdings running from the Middle Ages to contemporary art, with an emphasis on Swiss art. The museum was planned by architect Karl Moser and Robert Curjel, it was built and opened in 1910. The bas-reliefs on the facade are by Moser's longtime collaborator Oskar Kiefer. The museum's collection includes works from Edvard Munch, Jacques Lipchitz and Alberto Giacometti. Swiss artists such as Johann Heinrich Füssli, Ferdinand Hodler or from recent times, Pipilotti Rist and Peter Fischli are also represented.
- The Fraumünster abbey was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his direct authority.
In 1045, King Henry III granted the convent the right to hold markets, collect tolls, and mint coins, and thus effectively made the abbess the ruler of the city. The abbey was dissolved on 30 November 1524 in the course of the reformation of Huldrych Zwingli. The monastery buildings were destroyed in 1898 to make room for the new Stadthaus. The church building today serves as the parish church for one of the city's 34 reformed parishes. Münsterhof, the town square in front of Fraumünster, is named after the former abbey.
- St. Peter is one of the four main churches of the old town. Located next to the Lindenhof hill, site of the former Roman castle, it was built on the site of a temple to Iuppiter. An early church of 10 by 7 metres is archaeologically attested for the 8th or 9th century. This building was replaced by an early romanesque church around AD 1000, in turn replaced in 1230 by a late romanesque structure, parts of which survive. Rudolf Brun, first independent mayor of the town, was buried here in 1360. The nave was rebuilt in 1460 in Gothic style. Prior to the reformation, St. Peter was the only parish church of the town, the rest being part of monasteries. The current building was consecrated in 1706 as the first church built under Protestant rule. Until 1911, the steeple was manned by a fire watch. Restoration work was carried out in 1970 to 1975. The steeple's clock face has a diameter of 8.7 m, the largest church clock face in Europe. The bells date to 1880.
- The Zurich town hall is the Rathaus of Zurich, Switzerland. It was built in 1694-1698. It served as the seat of government of the Republic of Zurich until 1798. Since 1803, it has been owned by the Canton of Zurich, housing both the cantonal and the city's municipal parliaments. It is built on a fundament anchored in the Limmat river, now facing the Limmatquai at a bridge, the so called Rathausbrücke. The 17th century building replaces an earlier Rathaus built in 1397, which in turn replaced a 13th century court house (Richthus). Rathaus is also the name of a quarter within the Altstadt district. It is the part of the medieval town on the right side of the Limmat, separated by the Hirschengraben from the Hochschulen quarter to the east, and delimited by the Bellevue and Central squares to the south and north, respectively.