Zurich – The City of Extremes

Brit Ian Cryer, school director at LSI Zurich, talks about his fascination for the city he now calls home and why he labels it a ‘City of Extremes’.

“This year Zurich celebrates 500 years since the Reformation. You may have heard of Martin Luther, but have you heard of Huldrych Zwingli? He brought the reformation to Zurich. Out went holy images, hymn singing and fasting for lent. In came a new work ethic, discipline, austerity and a welfare system to help the poor. The affluent Switzerland we know today has Zwingli to thank. He laid the foundations of its economic success. You can see his statue outside the Wasserkirche by the river Limmat. The pastor with a sword in his hand!

Back in 1992 Zurich mathematics student Marek Krynski asked city authorities permission to organize a ‘demonstration in support of love, peace, freedom, generosity and tolerance’. It was granted. The ‘Street Parade’ was born. At the time no one believed ravers would dance through the city in broad daylight. On the inaugural day, only 1 out of  a total of l 7 love mobiles worked and around 1000 people attended. Over the years the Street Parade has gone from strength to strength. This year’s event saw superstar Paul Kalkbrenner launch what has now become the world’s largest Techno Street Party with over 1,000,000 visitors!

From reformer Zwingli to raver Krynski, the financial institutions of Paradeplatz to the urban culture of Zürich-West – where you can even surf in summer, this is a city of extremes. I came here in 1989 looking for work. A stranger in a strange land, I quickly found it and have been here ever since. Something about the city and its apparent contradictions continues to fascinate me. Some of them are featured in our school activity programme: the Grossmünster, Läderach Chocolatiers, Frau Gerolds Garten & the Freitag Tower. To appreciate them you need time. Zurich is most definitely not a one day, stopover city.”