When you are walking on the streets of Zurich you can see Zurich’s guild houses almost everywhere. Today, they are most prestigious men’s clubs. Some of them are also restaurants with traditional atmosphere. Despite what you see today in these Zurich’s guilds or “Zünfte”, there is a rich history behind them.
There was a time, Zünfte had an important role in the city of Zurich. The young knight Rudolf Brun, who was also the first mayor of Zurich, build these guilds to lay down the rules and control the whole city. In those times, the guilds represented the highest organizational and political body of Zurich. It was totally an innovative and marvelous approach in Europe for governing the city.
The impressive story of guild houses in Zurich began in the Middle Ages when the Zunfthaus zur Waag was opened about 6 hundred years ago. During the Guild Revolution in the 14th century, fourteen Zünfte (singular Zunft) were built in Zurich. Furthermore, during the next five centuries, a few more of them were also built throughout Zurich.
Simple nocturnal parades began in the 19th century in the guilds. By this time, the function of most of the old guild houses has changed to folkloristic and social destinations. Since then, the guilds have formed to a sort of associations of men with similar traditional interests. If you walk around the city today, you can find a lot of Guild Houses in the Zurich, but they don’t have a role in the management of the city or anything else anymore. Nowadays, many of the city’s ceremonies and traditional events are also held in the guild houses and are often used for private functions. Furthermore, some of them changed their purpose and became tourist attractions and can tell you lots about the tradition and history.
In the past, guilds had a major role in the governmental structure of the Zurich. However nowadays they do not have a major role, but you can feel the historical meaning that these guilds had in the previous history of Zurich.
Today, most of the guild houses run public restaurants where they serve typical dishes of the Zurich region and they are accessible to the public.
Have you ever tried a “Zurich Geschnetzeltes”? No? Well, then this could be one of your first stops in Zurich, visit a Guild House and taste that typical local dish.
Fantastic Switzerland Association