Zurich : around the Lindenhof
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Between Bahnhofstrasse and the river lies the western portion of the Old Town, and there are many picturesque alleys to explore here. Rennweg branches off the Bahnhofstrasse, and a short walk left from it up the hill will bring you to the Lindenhof, the oldest part of Zürich and site of the original Roman customs post. The broad space is quiet now, occupied mostly by chess-playing old-timers, and gives a wonderful panorama over the rooftops on both sides of the river. Descending on steep Pfalzgasse into a dense network of cobbled lanes, Augustinergasse, with its romantic oriel-windowed houses, leads to tiny Münzplatz overlooked by the beautiful Augustinerkirche, dating from 1274. Spare and simple inside, the church was secularized during the Reformation in 1524 and became the town’s mint, but it was renovated and re-dedicated in the nineteenth century and is now used by the Christ Catholics. Nearby, the James Joyce Foundation, Augustinergasse 9 (Tues, Wed & Fri noon–6pm, Thurs noon–9pm, Sat & Sun 11am–6pm; free), has a creaking library and reading room crammed with research materials and Joyceana of all kinds. Joyce wrote Ulysses during his wartime exile in Zürich (1915–19); he returned in 1940, and died on January 13, 1941, laid to rest in Fluntern cemetery next to the Zoo, where there is now a statue to him. The Foundation can direct you to his various haunts around town, and they also hold weekly open readings from Ulysses (Thurs 4.30–6pm) and Finnegans Wake (Thurs 7–9pm). On the opposite side of Bahnhofstrasse, at Pelikanstrasse 8, is the preserved James Joyce pub.

Augustinergasse leads on to the St Peters Kirche (Mon–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat 8am–4pm), dating from the thirteenth century but much altered in 1705. The fact that it boasts the largest clock face in Europe (8.7m in diameter; 1534) is considerably less interesting than the unusual sight, above the pulpit amidst Baroque bas-relief, of the name of God in Hebrew lettering. A tiny stepped alley adjacent to the church, Thermengasse, has a catwalk taking you over an excavated Roman baths. A short distance south is the Münsterhof, with the grand Baroque Zunfthaus zur Meisen housing the National Museum’s impressive ceramics collection (Tues–Sun 10.30am–5pm; free), including some gorgeous eighteenth-century porcelain and faience.

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