If you're staying in Zurich for a few days you might want to consider a day-trip to a nearby town and one of the closest destinations is the historic city of Zug. It has a small historic center with several remarkable buildings. It's just about 1/2 an hour away by train, and the trains leave twice an hour from Zurich. So it's really easy to get there.
It's a direct train to get here from Zurich. You don't have to change and there is some nice scenery along the way. And then when you arrive in Zug you'll notice that the train station is shockingly modern. If you think you're coming to visit an old historic town, which is really the plan, you'll be surprised at how beautiful and up-to-date the station is, and in fact the city itself is a modern city with a historic Old Town. That's what were here to see. So you can get on the public bus, you don't want to walk from the train station to the Old Town, it is just too far, over a mile. So get on the bus, and it's a short ride, will take you through the modern part along the lake shore. There's a beautiful Lake Zug. You'll soon be arriving within a few blocks of the Old Town.
The Old Town is small, just a few blocks down by the lake shore. And before walking into it you can walk around a little bit in the modern streets of the city as well to get a quick little overview. For several blocks all around the outside of that Old Town you have got the lovely, charming typical Swiss buildings with their pastel colors and historic facades. Many of these are 500 years old.
Of course, it's also a very modern city and you might be surprised that little Zug is an economic powerhouse. The population of the city is about 27,000 people and there are 27,000 companies registered in the city of Zug. That's because it's a tax haven. They extend special breaks to foreign corporations with very low corporate tax rate of about 8 1/2% and so thus they are host to such luxury brands as Cartier, headquarters of Piaget and Vasheron and others. They are big in the oil business too, with about 3% of the world's petroleum traded here and a Zug-registered corporation is building a critical gas pipeline to link Russia with Europe via the Baltic.
Of course, education is very strong in Switzerland, especially in a city like this that is so economically powerful, and the locals seem quite healthy, with a high standard of living typical of Switzerland. The prices are high, but so are the incomes.
Until you get inside those several blocks of the Old Town it's normal traffic out here. You will spot some historic sites on your way including the Municipal Theater which is over 100 years old. This tower, over 500 years old, was used to store gunpowder. And then there's the castle which is one of the landmarks of the city. It's now a historic museum inside there. For the kids it's just a soccer field.
Were just making half-day excursion from Zurich so not taking time to go inside any museums, mostly just walking around in the old streets of the Old Town. We have arrived inside the Old Town. We're on Unter Altstadt which is the main street of the Old Town. It's only a couple blocks long. As we walk along it for the next minute you'll get a thumbnail sketch of the history. Zug was founded in about the year 1200 by Austrians, the Habsburgs, typical of much of Switzerland, and by 1352 it joined the Swiss Confederation. It was the eighth Canton to join, and it had to because it was surrounded by the other seven. Most of the buildings we see today are at least 500 years old and beautifully preserved.
Notice the split-level street here, a very impressive adaptation when you are building your city on a sloping hill. It is like a terrace embankment. It's quite a unique touch and helps stabilize the buildings which is important here because in 1435 there was a catastrophe where the lower road of Zug fell into the lake and 60 people died and 26 houses got destroyed.
Of course there are some hotels here, small hotels, if you wanted to spend a night or two and have a relaxing visit. And we will notice several attractive sidewalk restaurants as we walk around, especially beyond this town water fountain. Get to the end of Unter Altstadt and you arrive at the Fish Markt, a cross street that has got three wonderful-looking restaurants surrounded by historic buildings.
At the end of the lane you run into the lake. You can't miss that site. It's so tranquil to see the restaurant along the shore and the boathouse and the old houses. The town is very proud of its views of sunset over the lake, but we're not sticking around that long to see it, so we will just enjoy it during the daytime. There's a path you can walk along here or bicycle or just sit down at a park bench and relax. And there is a fishing museum down here if you'd like to learn about the pike and trout that inhabit the lake.
Otherwise that's about it for seeing the interior of the Old Town. Enjoying a few more glimpses of buildings and details and flowerpots as we make our way out through the arch gateway to outside the walls, and then turn around and look back at the view. That is perhaps the most spectacular view of the entire visit. Saving the best for last.A fountain and heroic statue are at Kolin Square which is the site of the City Hall, the Stadthaus. Most impressive historic site has got to be the Zytturm, or clock tower, standing over the medieval gateway. A fitting climax to our little visit to Zug.