Fountains of Altstadt

Seven fountains from Zürich’s old town.

The old-town area of Zürich includes many of the most dramatic and interesting fountains, some of which I’ve already shared here. Today I’m posting 22 photos from seven fountains, all within a few blocks of each other. They start here in the gallery.

The Stüssihofstatt fountain, below, was described by another blogger as “a memorial built in honor of the former Bürgermeister [Mayor] Rudolf Stüssi, killed in battle not far from here.” It is one of the few painted fountains in Zürich – which we saw to be far more common in Bern.

An impressive statue fountain in the heart of old Zürich.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the story behind any of the other fountains. The I particularly like this one, a very dynamic sculpture of a man battling a lion.

An impressive statue fountain along the Limmat in old Zürich.

And this one follows a common theme – a young maiden bathing.

A pretty fountain next to Landesmuseum and beside the Limmat river.

Finally, a more contemporary design (1932), a multi-level fountain with a statue of a rearing horse.

A grand fountain on the southern edge of Alt Zurich.

For more photos of these and three other fountains, start here in the gallery.

Basel-isk fountain

Another fountain imported from a distant city.

I came across this fountain in the newer section of Zürich’s downtown area, early one Sunday morning. It’s an unusual and intriguing figure – a sort of dragon-like rooster with a snake’s tail. It looked familiar; I later remembered that it is a fountain common in Basel, which I’d seen during my February visit (like this photo).

This style of fountain is common in Basel, but unique in Zurich.

For three close-up photos, start here.

Update June 29: a friend informs me this creature is more likely a cockatrice, not a basilisk, but then the pun doesn’t work quite as well ;-).

Utilitarian fountains

A variety of Zürich fountains.

Today I’m posting a collection of a variety of Zürich fountains, mostly utilitarian in nature. though each different in their own way. See them in the gallery beginning here.

A common two-spout large-pool fountain in Alt Zurich, with a simple post rather than a statue.

The photo above shows a common form for the fountain’s spouts – a lion blowing water through a tube whose end looks like a duck (or goose). The lion is a common symbol of Zürich and the duck/goose motif is common on many spouts around town.

Münzplatz fountain

A pretty fountain in Münzplatz.

I found this fountain particularly cheerful, in early spring when many of the city’s trees and gardens were still brown. There is a florist on the corner of this plaza, and it may be that shop which tends to the pretty flowers and bonsai-like bush in the planter at center of this fountain. Three more photos in the gallery, starting here.

A pretty fountain in Müntzplatz, Zürich.


Zürich’s emergency water supply.

I’d seen a few of these contemporary-looking fountains around town, and included this photo in a collection of otherwise nondescript fountains last week. It turns out, however, that these fountains have an interesting story as well as a functional design.

One of Zürich’s ‘Notwasser’ fountains, serving as emergency water supply. This one has a doggy bowl too.

I learned from a post on zurich1200fountains (which also has a prettier picture) that these fountains were built specifically as an emergency water supply for Zürich, with a separate water source – indeed, one that does not depend on electric power. These Notwasserbrunnen originated as the result of a competition in 1973, according to this page. From what I discern through Google Translate, “A special internal construction allows a tap to be connected and thus to enable the population to draw water with buckets in an emergency.”

“Eighty of these special drinking fountains have been installed in the city
area. The city of Zurich’s emergency water supply is based on an independent emergency water network that, with spring water from the Sihl and Lorzetal, and is fed by city sources. In addition to the emergency water wells, there are around 300 more wells with separate spring water network. This works with a natural slope and is therefore also independent of the power supply.” [Google translation of this page, with some editing; I welcome corrections from my German-speaking friends!]

Frozen fountain

A dragon that breathes ice instead of fire.

Today I’m going to cite another blogger’s post – because it is so cool. As I noted early in this series, most of Zürich’s fountains run throughout the winter, their continuous stream of water preventing them from freezing. (That, and it rarely got below freezing this winter.) I recently discovered, in which a 2012 blogger cataloged 170 fountains before tiring. In one post, the blog shows the Escher fountain in a cold snap; the photo below is from that post.

Boy fountains

Several fountains feature boys.

Several Zürich fountains include a statue of a little boy, or perhaps in some cases, an angelic child. Here are two of my favorites; more photos (and all full-res) in the gallery begin here.

A fountain in the corner of the main all at Hauptbahnhof, Zürich.
A playful fountain in the wall at the intersection of Weinbergstrasse and Soneggstrasse.

PS. I’m not the only one to have blogged about Zürich fountains; here’s a 2012 blogger that cataloged 170 of them before tiring:

Hedwig fountain

A memorial to the brave women of Zurich.

This fountain stands prominently at the center of the Lindenhof hill park overlooking the Limmat river and the Altstadt (old town) of Zürich.

The Hedwig Fountain “was built in 1912. The helmeted statue of a woman beside the fountain was made by Gustav Siber. It was built to honor the Zürich women who defended the city by duping the army of Duke Albert I of Germany during the siege of Zürich in 1292. They dressed in full battle gear in order to trick the Habsburg army into thinking that the city was well protected while their men were busy campaigning at Winterthur.” [Wikipedia]

Hedwig fountain in the Lindenhof hill park overlooking the Altstadt (old town) of Zürich.

As always, full-res photos are available in the gallery (here).

Hedwig fountain in the Lindenhof hill park overlooking the Altstadt (old town) of Zürich.

Wine fountain

A traditional wine-grape picker.

I’ve always enjoyed seeing this fountain, anchoring the square in front of the Hotel zum Storchen and, this time of year, surrounded by the tables of a café operated out of the hotel. Indeed, when I was last passing by, I saw a waiter from the café pause to fill a water jug from the fountain and carry it to one of the guest tables.

The heart of the fountain is the figure of a wine-grape picker, wearing traditional wooden basket.

I was long unclear about the nature of this person – who is he? what is he doing? why is he celebrated on a fountain in a prominent square in Zürich?

Again with a tip from Jean Rosston ’77, I believe this statue depicts a man who picks wine grapes; he is wearing a traditional wooden basket on his back, and the ‘arbor’ around the fountain includes sculpted grape leaves. I’ve since learned the square is called Weinplatz, lending credence to this explanation.

A view of the fountain in early April, before the warm weather brings out the café tables.

The fountain is mentioned in another webpage – without explanation of the fountain, but some historical tidbits about the hotel.