Hotel Adler in Old Town Zürich: quaint Swissness

July 23, 2017 — No comments

Hotel Adler on historic Hirschenplatz

Hotel Adler is the birthplace of where once famous Swiss animal and landscape painter Rudolf Koller painted his first sketches on the walls in the 1830s. You might recognize his most well known, Gotthardpost.

The more recent paintings are by Zürich artist Heinz Blum. His expressive murals tell the stories of people, point to secluded places and little known facts. A book available at reception offers historic background information and serves as a guide, designed to entice guests to explore these areas on foot today. Hotel Adler’s Swiss Chuchi dining room is beloved by locals and tourists alike for their year-round authentic fondue & raclette dishes.

Zürich river town history, a stroll along the Limmat – Hotel Adler room 310

Hotel Adler, Zürich Zürich was a river town until the 1880s, when the lakeside area started to be developed. Up until this time, the houses on the right bank of the river Limmat stood at the edge of the water with a narrow river-path – partly lying under arcades – providing access from the river to certain parts of Old Town.

The town center used to be the Rathausbrücke, also called Gemüsebrücke, which functioned as a square with a fruit & vegetable market and a bridge wide enough to allow vehicle passage, constituting the main traffic artery between the two parts of town on either side of the Limmat.

Today’s Town Hall is situated on Limmatquai 55 and has stood there since the Middle Ages, which is also to them when the guilds established themselves in the immediate neighbourhood which explains the considerable number of guild houses: zur Zimmerleuten (Limmatquai 40), zum Rüden (Limmatquai 42), zur Saffran (Limmatquai 52), Haus zur Haue of the Kämbel guild (Limmatquai 52).

Many of the guild houses are excellent restaurants today, open to the public. They are well worth visiting and the festive atmosphere of the entire Limmatquai area is especially enjoyable during the Sechseläuten, Zürich’s spring festival.

Weinplatz – Hotel Adler Room 205

Hotel Adler, ZürichThe Haus zum (roten) Schwert at Weinplatz 10 served as an inn from 1406 to 1918 and became one of the first houses in Europe, known as Hôtel de L’Epée. It was Zürich’s cultural highlight where many prominent guests stayed: Tsar Alexander of Russia, King Gustav Adolf IV of Sweden, Franz Liszt and in 1766 the family Mozart after a concert at the Musiksaal. Brahms, Casanova, Alexandre Dumas were other illustrious guests.

Hotel AdlerDuke Karl August von Weimar, who stayed at the Schwert with Goethe in 1779 wrote these words: “Staying in the best inn, which stands by the bridge that holds the town together; having a charming view of the river, the lake and the mountains; enjoying wonderful meals, a comfortable bed and all other things which usually come to pass in enchanted castles to gladden the hearts of knights.” A rather discreet commemorative plaque on the left side of the front doors lists some of the famous names of what are offices and boutiques today. (Photo above: Hotel Schwert in the 1700’ds, brown house on the right, photo wikimedia commons).

St. Peterhofstatt and Lindenhof – Hotel Adler rooms 204 and 110

Hotel Adler, ZürichSt. Peterhofstatt and the gorgeous St. Peter Church commemorate the town of Zürich’s most important public figures. A simple gravestone, standing discreetly by the church facade, commemorates Rudolf Brun (circa 1300-1360), the first, all-powerful mayor of Zürich, who was elected for life.

In 1336, Brun overthrew the town council which was controlled by rich noblemen and merchants. He created the guilds which played a dominant role in the political and economic life of Zürich until the French invasion of 1798.

Directly opposite Brun’s gravestone, a simple inscription at St. Peterhofstatt 5 remembers the enlightened philosopher Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801). Lavater was a minister at St. Peter’s church and author of many philosophical works. He corresponded with the elite at that time: kings and noblemen and Goethe visited with him during his stay in Zürich. 

Old Town Zürich – birthplace of traditional Swiss choral singing – Hotel Adler room 105

We learn that Choral singing was not just an activity pursued out of enthusiasm, but the musical expression of a belief in republican and patriotic values. Hans Georg Nägeli (1773-1836) was the founder of this art form and his famous song “Freut euch des Lebens” delights people to this day. It gives an impression of the joie de vivre of the time.

Richard Wagner (1813-1883) spent time in Zürich. Wagner’s presence had a tremendously stimulating effect on Zürich’s music scene. The two were neighbours in the Escher-Häuser, a series of houses located on Zeltweg. A plaque on Zeltweg 13 reminds us of Wagner’s stay in Zürich and is well worth a detour.

While you’re there, also visit Zeltweg 9, where famous Swiss author Johanna Spyri (1829-1901) wrote the book Heidi. The Schweizerische Jugendbuch-Institut (Swiss institute for books for young people) which evolved from the Johanna Spyri Archiv can be found at Zeltweg 11.

Hotel Adler in Old Town Zürich is a nice experience for the Swiss Abroad as much as tourists from around the world. It’s location is ideal to exploring the heart of the city on foot.

Share your experience of Zürich, Fondue or the Hotel Adler and leave a comment below.  

About Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust


Switzerland travel enthusiast. Cat lover, bicyclist and classical music fan. I prefer walking over running and enjoy a good Swiss card game of Jass with friends.  More about Silvia and Swiss Wanderlust »

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Additional Information

Photos: Hotel Adler & Silvia Schoch

Hotel Adler, Zürich

Above: Rudolf Koller, Gotthard Post, 1873

Hotel Adler, Zürich
Hotel Adler, Zürich

Above and below: Similar views – then and now. Limmatquai with view onto St. Peter’s Church

Hotel Adler, Zürich


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