As I look back on it, the third day of our European adventure was one of the trip’s highlights. I was too tired to fully appreciate it then, but I enjoyed each moment as we crammed as much history and sightseeing into the day.
It was a short bus ride from our suburban hotel to the heart of Zurich, Switzerland, a global financial center. Indeed, we saw no skyscrapers, only well-maintained office buildings a few stories high. The many church steeples reached higher than the buildings.
Our main objective was to discover the locations of the beginning of Anabaptism in 1525. Today Anabaptist churches are considered peace churches. With nonresistance as a fundamental principle, today’s Anabaptist churches would include Amish, Brethren, Conservative Mennonite, Hutterite, and Mennonite, to name a few.
The Limmat River with the twin steeples of the Grossmusnter, a statue of Urlich Zwingli, the City Hall across the river, and a typical street in Zurich.
In Zurich, the first Anabaptists met and were baptized as adults. Shunning infant baptism infuriated both the established Roman Catholic Church leaders and those of the burgeoning Protestant religions led by reformers like Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli.
Consequently, the early Anabaptists were hunted down by Catholics and Protestants alike. Some were drowned, while others were burned at the stake. Felix Manz was the first Anabaptist martyr, and we visited the spot where he was drowned in the Limmat River that runs through the heart of Zurich.
We also visited Manz’s mother’s home, where Conrad Grebel baptized Manz and others considered the Zurich rebels. We also saw the homes of Zwingli and Grebel. It was mind-boggling that these structures still stand, much as they were in the 16th century. Of course, they have been updated and some repurposed. Zwingli’s home is a theater, while Grebel’s is a bar.
After a pleasant lunch in Munster Plaza, our local guide gave us a brief tour of the Fraumunster Church. He focused his time on sharing about the Chagall stained glass windows, which were beautiful. The pastel frescoes added a complementary contrast to the glorious colors of the Chagall windows.
Please click on the photos to enlarge them.
Just like that, we boarded the bus again for Lucerne. On the short drive there I was impressed by the many tunnels that the Swiss have built. Their lengths vary, but they all are clean and help maintain the natural beauty of the lovely countryside. In the states, it is most common for roadways to gouge out giant hillsides to avoid building expensive tunnels that must be maintained. The Swiss do a magnificent job with their commitment to preserving natural landscapes and building efficient infrastructure that enables vehicles to move from one location to another.
We arrived in Lucerne late afternoon and immediately began to explore the Old Town section. We enjoyed walking the cobblestone streets, viewing the many frescos on the old buildings, and listening to a school band play lively street music. We walked across the famous Chapel Bridge, too.
On the way to our hotel, we stopped to view the noted Lucerne Lion Monument or the Lion of Lucerne. It is a rock relief hewn in 1820-21 in memory of the Swiss Guards killed in the French Revolution in 1792. It was pretty impressive.
We stayed at the Grand Europe Hotel, which faced the beautiful Lake Lucerne. The lake lured me down to its edge that evening at dusk and again the following day after sunrise. The famous swans of Lake Lucerne added an exclamation point to an already gorgeous scene. Mount Pilatus stood mighty in the background.
After all of the walking and trying to absorb all we had seen and learned this day, we were exhausted. We needed to rest well because the next day would be even more exciting.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2022
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