Think of Switzerland and the image of a little feather-covered piece of wood springing out from a clock face every sixty minutes is likely to come to mind. On killing sixty minutes in the spotlessly clean Swiss city of Zürich last month, I didn’t spot any cookoos (wooden or otherwise), but I did see some rather impressive clocks.
One of the imposing clock faces of St Peterskirche in the heart of Zürich …
At nearly nine metres in diameter each, these four clock faces are some of the largest in Europe. What a shame that they don’t have proportionately sized cookoos to jump out of them
And apart from the impressive clock faces, there isn’t really much else to see and say about St Peterskirche
The clock faces on neighbouring Fraumünster are clearly not as big as St Peterskirche’s, but this 13th century church has a far more impressive draw
No, not the delightfully defaced (or should that be ‘re-faced’?) bollard in front of it
Fraumünster’s big draw are the beautiful gothic-free stain glass windows designed by the artist Marc Chagall
Chagall designed these three main windows and two side panels for the church in 1967, and they are very typically Chagall in appearance. Of the main windows the blue Old testament ‘Jacob’ panel features a ladder to heaven, the yellow ‘Zion’ panel features King David and the new Jerusalem, and the green ‘Christ’ panel in the middle features …
The infant Christ nuzzled contently up against a rather vexed looking Virgin Mary …
… and an onlooker at the Cruxification that appears to be waving back (or at least I hope that is what he’s doing)
On the right wall, the ‘Law’ panel depicts Moses looking down at those not following the commandments …
… and opposite is an array of Prophets …
… including this rather jolly looking fellow shepherding (or possibly scaring) some strange horse-type creatures (forgive me, my knowledge of Old Testament prophets is a little rusty to say to least)
The Grossmünster, just across the bridge from the Fraumünster doesn’t have a clock face, but its windows certainly rival those of Chagall’s in beauty and modernity
It does have examples of more typical gothic stain glass windows, this one designed by Augusto Giacometti in 1937
But walk around the aisles and nave of the church to see some truly stunning modern stain glass
Possibly not wanting to be overshadowed any longer by the popularity of Chagall’s windows at the Fraumünster, artists were invited to take part in a competition to redesign the windows for the Grossmünster in 2006. The German painter Sigmar Polke’s design of seven windows made from sliced agate, and five depicting scenes from the Old Testament were chosen, and three years later the installation of his designs was complete. The agate windows are simply beautiful in their rich colour, pattern and luminosity …
… and Polke’s Old Testament windows are as jolly as Chagall’s, and rather celtic in appearance.
‘King David’ (and not St Patrick as I initially thought it was. I guess the green and the harp made me think of Ireland)
‘The Ascension of Elijah’
‘Elijah’ close up
A selection of chalices or a collage of Alfred Hitchcock silhouettes? Polke’s ‘The Son of Man’
… and the rather sorrowful looking ‘Scapegoat’
‘The Sacifice of Isaac’
Far better photographs of Polke’s twelve window designs and more information about the artist and his work can be found on the swissinfo.ch site here.
The official Fraumünster website, albeit in German can be found here including more information on and better photographs of Marc Chagall’s windows.
The official Grossmünster website, also only available in German can be found here.
Entry to all three churches is (surprisingly) free, including access to Chagall’s and Polke’s delightful windows.
A delightful out-of-this-world experience walking along Zurich’s only mountain, Uetliberg