Zurich was founded as a Roman customs post (Turicum) on the site of what is now Lindenhof in the year 15 B.C. From the 10th century onwards, it enjoyed the status of a town, and in 1218 was granted the rights of a free city.
Rudolf Brun introduced a guild constitution after the downfall of the government in 1336. In 1351, the city joined the Everlasting League of the Confederates. After that, it grew increasingly in importance, especially under the rule of Mayor Hans Waldmann (15th century). 1519 saw the beginning of the Reformation under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli.
During the 19th century, Alfred Escher transformed Zürich into a trade and business centre (machine and textile industry, banks, insurance companies, tourism), not in the least because of the founding of the Zürich Stock Exchange in 1877. This gave the city the fourth rank on the world's list and made it into what it still is: Switzerland's most important business centre and the world's gold trading centre.
The Old Town consists of narrow streets which can be easily explored on foot. Along the riverside, you can find baroque guildhouses that tell their own version of the city's past. Winding streets that show a nostalgic Zürich or maybe even expose the city's fringe - just give way for the enthusiasm this inspirited and colourful (both with houses and people) city appeals. You will find a myriad of small boutiques, antique shops, bars and cafes in the Old Town on the left bank of the Limmat.
If you are on a budget, you do not have to avoid the city. Try doing just the windows shopping on Bahnhofstrasse, but move over to the other side of the river Limmat for your catering needs. The Niederdorf offers plenty of cheaper places to buy, eat and drink. Although considered Zürich's most touristy area, you still find some pretty genuine places here - just wander through the narrow lanes with their old houses, many of which date back to the 14th century.
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