St. Peterskirche, Zurich

Built in the 9th century, the St Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) is the oldest church in Zürich. It also boasts the largest clock face in Europe and contains some old wall paintings.

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History of St. Peterskirche

The Peterskirche was originally built in the 8th century but was much altered in the 13th century and again in 1705.

Throughout the Middle Ages, the short spire with the windows was the home of the town watchman, whose duty was to look out the windows every 15 minutes for a fire. If he saw one, he would sound an alarm and hang a flag out of the window facing the fire. It seems to have worked - unlike so many European cities, Zürich never suffered a major fire.

In the 18th century, the Peterskirche's minister, Johan Kaspar Lavater, was so popular that people reserved seats for Sunday Mass. The priest was a friend of Goethe, and the two had long conversations over wine in the nearby Reblaube Gastube, which still has a "Goethestube." Lavater's grave is outside the door of the church and his house is across the square.

What to See at St. Peterskirche

The record-sized clock face of St. Peterskirche is 9m (28.5 ft.) in diameter. The minute hand alone is almost 4m (12 ft.) long.

The interior consists of a three-aisled Baroque nave and a Romanesque choir, the latter with some faded medieval murals including a glimpse of a saint.

Another interesting sight in the St Peterskirche is the name of God in Hebrew above the pulpit, reflecting the Reformation emphasis on the original biblical languages.

Quick Facts on St. Peterskirche

Site Information
Names:Kirche St. Peter Zürich · St Peters Kirche · St. Peter's Church · St. Peterskirche
Country:Switzerland
Categories:churches
Styles:Romanesque; Baroque style
Dedication: St. Peter
Dates:8th C; 13th C; 1705
Status: active
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:47.371058° N, 8.540781° E
Address:St. Peterhofstatt 1
Zurich, Switzerland
Phone:01/211-25-88
Website:www.st-peter-zh.ch
Hours:Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm; Sat, 9am-4pm
Lodging:View hotels near St. Peterskirche
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Personal visit (December 18, 2006).
  2. Rick Steves' Switzerland
  3. Frommer's Switzerland.
  4. The Rough Guide to Switzerland.

More Information

from the Grossmünster across the river. © Holly Hayes
The Peterskirche has the largest clock face in Europe. © Holly Hayes
Cozy square surrounding the stairs to the Peterskirche. © Holly Hayes
Interior, looking towards pulpit and apse. © Holly Hayes
Baroque decoration with German verse and the name of God in Hebrew. © Holly Hayes
Medieval murals in the choir. © Holly Hayes
View of the gallery and pulpit from the choir. © Holly Hayes

Map of St. Peterskirche, Zurich

Below is a location map and aerial view of St. Peterskirche. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.