Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The capital of the Swiss canton of the same name which is the second largest and richest of the twenty-five Swiss cantons. The city is the largest in Switzerland, and has 200,000 inhabitants. It has a commanding position on the beautiful outlet of Lake Zurich; to the west and east are the wooded heights of the Uetliberg and Zurichberg, and there is a fine view of he thickly settled and fruitful banks of the lake with handsome villages along the shore; in the background towards he south and south-east is an imposing circle of lofty mountains in Glarus, Schwyz, Noi, etc. The climate is mild and healthful. The prehistoric history of he city and its vicinity extends back to the Stone Age, the first and second Bronze Age, and the iron Age, as is proved by the discovery of numerous lake-swellings and remains of graves. Probably even as far back as the time of the ancient Helvetii a town existed on the site of Zurich.

Historically the city first appears under the name of Turicum, during the period of the Roman supremacy in Switzerland at the beginning of the Christian era. Christianity was probably also introduced during this period. According to legend the Faith was brought to Zurich by members of the Theban Legion. Felix, Regula, and Exuperantius are the patron saints of the city. After the Allamani had conquered the northern part of Switzerland during the era of the migration (fourth and fifth centuries), Zurich became the capital of the districts or hundreds of Zurich. In the early medieval period Zurich was ruled by the abbess of Fraumunster, the abbess being called "the great lady of Zurich". At a later date is was a free city of the empire, and in 1351 it joined the Swiss Confederation, then the "union of the eight old towns". Like Berne and Schwyz, Zurich has an important place both in the early history of Switzerland and in its modern history. At the beginning of the sixteenth century it became the cradle and leading power of the Reformation in German Switzerland under the guidance of its pastor Huldreich Zwingli, who joined the Reformers ; the city was also the main supporter of Zwinglianism (as opposed to Lutheranism and Calvinism ).

The city is built on the banks at the end of the lake and along the River Limmat, its outlet, and climbs the lower heights on both sides of the river. It is divided into the Old Town and the New Town; the latter is mainly composed of suburbs and surrounding townships which were formerly independent but which now are united with the Old Town. In the Old Town many houses still exist that are historically and architecturally interesting. The New Town has some very fine streets, notably the street leading to the railway station, which is considered one of the finest in Europe. There are large and small parks, finely situated. The city is governed by an executive council of seven members, the head of which is the chief official of the city; the executive council is aided by the "great council", a form of town parliament. Both official boards are elected by the citizens for three years; all citizens twenty years of age who are capable of bearing arms have the right to vote. In religious belief the inhabitants are: 130,000 Protestants, 50,000 Catholics 3000 Old Catholics, 5000 Jews, and 10,000 belong to no denomination. The most active religious body is the Catholic. The Protestants possess eight large churches, of which the Grossmunster and the Fraumunster are of much historical interest. The Catholics have three churches and various chapels, and two new churches are in course of construction; they are cared for by twenty-four priests.

Zurich is celebrated for its schools. The sum assigned by the budget to the primary and middle schools of the city for 1913 was five million francs ($1,000,000). Among the schools are a large cantonal gymnasium, a commercial high-school, the cantonal university, the Federal polytechnic school, and the conservatory for music. In addition there are a large number of private schools and educational institutions, mainly attended by foreigners. The city possesses large scientific, technical, and art collections, and important libraries. The famous Swiss national museum is also situated at Zurich. As the banking centre of Switzerland, Zurich contains the main Office of the Swiss National Bank; of the Swiss loan and Mortgage Company, of the Swiss Banking Association, etc. It also contains an important stock-exchange, and silk, cotton, and grain exchanges. Zurich is a great centre of continental traffic and a railway junction for traffic between the east and west and north and south of Europe. There are large numbers of religious and charitable societies and associations for the benefit of the public, besides learned, professional, and athletic organizations. The city contains large numbers of benevolent institutions, administered by the canton, city or private organizations; there are excellent hospitals and sanatoriums. There is a fine hall for music with an excellent orchestra; Zurich has also places for athletic contests and exhibitions of aviation.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 2:1-10
1 And you were dead, through the crimes and the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 12:13-21
13 A man in the crowd said to him, 'Master, tell my ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 20th, 2014 Image

St. Paul of the Cross
October 20: St. Paul of the Cross was born at Ovada in the Republic of ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter