Travel blogging: Zürichberg

by Eszter Hargittai on July 11, 2015

I was in Zurich last week where my hosts kindly took me to a very nice restaurant on Zürichberg, a hill that offers pretty views and a peaceful environment of fields and forests. In addition to the garden restaurant of the Hotel Zurichberg, there is a terrace as well with even better views. It turns out, Zürichberg is host to all sorts of attractions: FIFA’s headquarters, the Zurich Zoo and a beautiful cemetery where James Joyce is buried (as pointed out by Daniel in his insightful reflections on Switzerland last summer).

FIFA’s headquarters greet you with three flags, the middle one proudly proclaiming “My Game is Fair Play.” It’s good that they cleared that up. I was curious to see a sculpture peeking out from behind some trees, but as we tried to enter the FIFA grounds, a security guard stopped us explaining that unless we were children playing in the soccer match nearby or their parents, we could not proceed. Nearby was a guard with a weapon as well, not a common occurrence in Zurich.

The highlight of this area for me was Friedhof Fluntern, a most charming cemetery, if that word is appropriate given the context (as aptly noted by a reviewer on TripAdvisor, “how do you rate a cemetery?”). Given the Swiss context, it is not a huge surprise that the grounds are very orderly. But there is more to it. It feels more like a garden than a cemetery. You can imagine spending time there to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. A colleague even noted that he sometimes goes there to read. The headstones move past the usual venturing into the whimsy and artistic. The cemetery is on a hill, which adds to its character. I enjoyed going from row to row trying to peek into the lives of the people buried there through their names, the dates and notes on the stones, and the little sculptures honoring them. See more of my Friedhof Fluntern photos here.

It was too hot to proceed to the Zoo, but having later read that they have Galapagos giant tortoises, I was bummed by my decision to skip it and will be sure to visit next time I am in town.

To get to Zürichberg, take Tram 6 from Central to Zoo, which is a 2-minute walk heading east from the main train station, which is ten minutes from the airport by train. Zurich offers day tickets for its entire public transportation system. The 24 or 72-hour ZürichCARD can also be very beneficial if you plan to visit numerous attractions.



Sumana Harihareswara 07.11.15 at 7:00 pm


rea 07.11.15 at 10:38 pm

The site of heavy fighting in the two battles of 1799 . . .


bob 07.12.15 at 1:05 pm

“It feels more like a garden than a cemetery. You can imagine spending time there to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.” I wonder how old the cemetery is – was it inspired by the American “garden cemetery” or “rural cemetery” movement that started in the 1820s? (Also see Blanche Linden-Ward, Silent city on a hill: landscapes of memory and Boston’s Mount Auburn Cemetery). The motivation for these garden cemeteries was precisely to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
In the context of the area near your home university, examples of the “garden cemetery” movement are Oak Woods Cemetery (South Side of Chicago, 1853), and Graceland Cemetery and Rosehill Cemetery on the North Side (both circa 1860). Several organizations give tours of Graceland Cemetery, most notably the Chicago Architecture Foundation; some Chicago architects created monuments there – notably, Louis Sullivan – and many are buried there (Sullivan, Burnham, Mies, etc.).


hix 07.12.15 at 2:32 pm

When i was living in Essen for half a year a long time ago the closest green space was a former cemetry with half broken tombstones. It was a very silent nice place with few visitors. Theres something very western about our inability to be anything but sad or serious at a cemetry. Some cultures commemorate with big festivities at cemetries.


ingrid robeyns 07.12.15 at 8:36 pm

“it’s good that they cleared that up” — LOL! That’s humor that works online (which unfortunately, as I’ve experienced with all the pains that come with it, doesn’t hold for many types of humor that only work when the body language is part of it).


Bloix 07.15.15 at 10:37 pm

“a most charming cemetery, if that word is appropriate given the context”

It is most assuredly appropriate. Charm is the difference between the graveyard and the cemetery.

My first exposure to the garden cemetery movement of the early 19th C was Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY, which I’ve always thought was just about as charming as a cemetery could be.

But by the look of your photos, when it comes to art and architecture Friedhof Fluntern beats Mt Hope all hollow.


TM 07.16.15 at 3:49 pm

This source says that Friedhof Fluntern was established 1887:

Der heutige Friedhof Fluntern wurde 1887 von der Gemeinde Fluntern angelegt. Die damals noch sehr kleine Anlage wurde nach barockem Vorbild streng axial aufgebaut.

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