Party city Zurich prepares for Euro buzz
It's been dubbed "downtown Switzerland" in recognition of its lively nightlife scene
It's been dubbed "downtown Switzerland" in recognition of its lively nightlife scene.
Zurich, the biggest city, may well be the financial powerhouse for the country and the home of Swiss banking, but it has successfully side-stepped any pinstripe primness and, for Euro 2008, the city is offering a range of event to make visitors, in the words of its mayor, "thirsty for more."
The trendy Zueri-West district offers a buzz where chichi bars and clubs have moved into abandoned foundries, mills and warehouses. In August, the city, on the northern tip of Lake Zurich, hosts what is claimed to be Europe's largest annual street party.
While other Swiss cities are trying to clean up their image ahead of Euro 2008, Zurich is in good shape. The horrors of so-called Needle Park, when an enlightened attempt by the authorities to combat the city's drug problem encouraged hundreds of addicts to gather daily in Platzspitz in the early 90s, are history.
The city is a magnet for design, art and culture. Birthplace of the short-lived but influential Dada art movement following World War I, even its historic monuments have been touched by modernity. The 13th century church, Fraumünster, is decorated with stained glass windows designed by the Russian artist Marc Chagall.
It was from the twin-towered Grossmuenster that the father of the Swiss Reformation, Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), waged his campaign against the Catholic Church.
The old town offers sightseeing and antique shops galore, alongside book stores and galleries. Alongside the 50 museums, the 100 galleries and architect Le Corbusier's brightly splashed pavilion in Zürichhorn Park, there is shopping in the Bahnhofstrasse and the old town side streets in Niederdorf which are lined with designer stores and boutiques.
In summer the many designated swimming zones on the lake and rivers transform into bars at night.
Euro 2008 action will be played out at the home of FC Zurich, the brand new Letzigrund Stadium.