July 22nd, 2005

zurich at night

History of Zurich: Roman Period

Taken from Swisstownguide.ch

15 B.C. Roman colonisation of Zurich during the Roman emperor Augustus‘s campaign north of the Alps.

Although Zurich was far from the main Roman road system, it was of importance as a toll station due to its location. Situated on the waterway used for transportation between Lake Walen and Lake Zurich, Zurich was the place where goods had to be reloaded from lake ships to river ships for further transportation on the Rhine and then towards Belgium.

The Roman settlement was in the area around the present-day ‘Lindenhof’ hill. At that time it was completely surrounded by water, because Zurich‘s second river, the ‘Sihl’, flowed into the ‘Limmat’ near the ‘Fraumünster‘. Where the ‘Weinplatz’ is today, there was a little creek which was used as a harbour. The Roman public baths were located beside this harbour. Below the ‘Rathausbrücke’ a little bridge over the river ‘Limmat’ con-nected the main village with the houses in the area ‘Stüssihofstatt’ and ‘Rindermarkt’. During the Roman period Zurich presumably had about 300 inhibitants.

200 B.C. The Roman name for Zurich was ‘Turicum’ from the Celtic name ‘Turus’. In 1747 the tombstone of the son of Lucius Aelius Urbicus, head of the toll station, was found at the site of the ‘Lindenhof’. It mentions the name ‘Turicum’and also shows that the rate of duty for goods was 2.5 %.

300 B.C. According to the legend, the patron saints of Zurich - Felix, Regula and their servant Exuperantius - were fugitives from the Theban legion. They were beheaded because they all refused to fight against the Christians. In Zurich, Felix, Regula and Exuperantius were imprisoned in Zurich and beheaded on the little island in the river, where the ‘Wasserkirche’ was later built. After the execution, the 3 saints picked up their heads and walked up the hill where the ‘Grossmünster’ cathedral was later built.

370 B.C. During the reign of the Roman emperor Valentinian I. (364-375) a fort with 10 towers was built on the ‘Lindenhof’ to protect the toll station from the Germans who were in-vading from the north.

401 B.C. Pressured by the invading Alemans, the Romans left Zurich and Switzerland. Although Zurich continued to be in-habited, the only evidence of a recolonisation of Zurich appears to have been by the Alemans and the Francs after 550 B.C.