Fountains of Zürich

Zürich has many beautiful fountains.

The city of Zürich has many fountains – in plazas and on streetcorners. Some are decorative, some are commemorative, and some are purely functional – but all are potable.  On my morning walk I pass at least two such fountains, and always pause for a drink.  They run constantly, even through the winter, and thus always taste cool and fresh.  It is a delightful public service and a boon to those who’d rather refill a water bottle than purchase yet another disposable bottle of water.

This elaborate fountain sits in a courtyard garden called Zentralhof, in one of the oldest quarters of the city beside Bahnhofstrasse and not far from some long-buried (but recently rediscovered) ruins of Roman baths.

Fountain in Zentralhof square - just off Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich.

In a common traditional design, the fountain pours into a pool over which metal bars can support a summer-time planter.  Such fountains (like this one on Bahnhofstrasse) also have streams that pour water over gaps in the metal bars, on which a villager could rest a pot to collect water.

One of many public fountains in Zürich.

Other fountains are more plain and functional; like many, this has a mini fountain at its base so your dog can drink as well.

A basic fountain in alt stadt, with a pretty reflection of morning light.

And some newer fountains take a more contemporary approach, yet blend it with the natural world so ingrained in Swiss consciousness, such as this rocky fountain near an entrance to the Universitätsspital.

An interesting fountain at the hospital in Zurich.

As I varied the routes of my morning walk, I began to realize the huge variety of fountains, and it occurred to me it might be fun to find them all.  Since most (if not all) appear on a street corner, i.e., at intersections, the challenge appeared to be similar to the famous Hamiltonian Path problem in computer science: given a graph of vertices (intersections) connected by edges (street segments), devise a path that visits each vertex exactly once.  No such option existed for me, as I spread my travels out over several weeks and must begin/end each walk at the same point.  But I’ve tracked my walks as a means of finding new routes to cover each day; here’s how it looks so far:Map of my fountain-search walks, as of May 18.

See the gallery for more shots of the above fountains. More fountain pix yet to come!

The city apparently has a project underway to refresh and renovate some of the historical fountains.

Fountain in Zentralhof square - just off Bahnhofstrasse in Zürich.

Author: dfkotz

David Kotz is an outdoor enthusiast, traveller, and father of three. He is also a Professor of Computer Science at Dartmouth College.

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