Beneath the Stone Arches

Construction is somewhat commonplace here in Zürich.  I am forever finding creative ways to artistically avoid cranes in my photos.  And it seems that the city is constantly busy re-renovating something, making it even more perfect than it already seemed to be to me.  I don’t often stop to read the fine print, but when biking towards the industrial-gone-trendy neighborhood of Zürich early last year, I squeezed the brakes when I saw the word “Markthalle” and a sketch of a 500 meter-long market street.  Construction was already underway to create a unique shopping structure beneath the Wipkinger and Letten viaducts (both of which were built by hand by more than 6,000 workers just before 1900), that would include Zürich’s first covered market.

Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, Switzerland

As early as April of this year, while construction forged ahead on the market hall, the first of the stores opened their doors.  I hurried over to see this highly anticipated addition to Zürich’s shopping scene and especially the architecture, which is fascinating.  Swiss architects EM2N had won first place in an architectural design competition in 2004 for an ambitious refurbishment of Zürich?s viaduct arches.  The theme: “transform the space under the city?s historic structure into usable cultural and commercial attractions.”

Boutique walls are the very stone structure of the viaduct arches, and each shop has huge bubble-like skylights allowing for natural light.  There is an amazing juxtaposition of old/rugged and modern/sleek.  What was once a very old railway viaduct in a rather unappealing location, separating the industrial neighborhood from the center of town, is now an attraction in itself, potentially linking those two areas.  With the masses of people that will be heading that way to shop, browse, eat or stroll around, the grungier surrounding area is sure to see a transformation too.

Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, Switzerland

The Viadukt’s interactive website has tons of information and you can see each of the 50 shops that are under the 36 arches, with a preview of their independent websites.  There’s truly something for everyone: clothing, accessories, shoes, electronics, books, modern furniture and artists’ and graphic designers’ studios too.  I hear there are even going to be tango lessons somewhere there soon!  In addition to the Markthalle Restaurant in the market itself, there are two cafés and the Restaurant Viadukt.  If you love exposed stone like I do, you’ll enjoy the atmosphere inside any which spot you choose.

Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, Switzerland

Now into the Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich’s first permanent covered market.  We still have the large and fantastic food market in the main train station on Wednesdays, but this one is open 6 days a week, except Sunday of course.  The quality of the products is exemplary; they have truly brought together the cream of the crop, local farmers and artisans showcasing their fruit, vegetables, cheeses, sausages, wine, fresh pasta and more.  But as some may have expected, that quality comes with a price, and I even went home empty-handed.  But I’ll be back soon to make some good value finds.  I had my eye on a few things at the Slow Food stand, the oat cakes at the (British) Pie Shop, breads and tarts at St Jakob Beck & Confiserie and just about everything at Berg und Tal (Engandiner Nusstorten, Gianottis chocolates, mini Iranian figs…).

Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, SwitzerlandMarkthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, Switzerland

While one side of the viaduct may seem less than glamorous, with the remnants of industrial factories and plenty of colorful graffiti, the other side is all green.  A clean, spacious park has been drawing crowds these past few months at even the slightest sign of true summer.  There are tables and chairs and playground areas for kids.  Very little parking space has been created to encourage people to come on foot or bike, and there are tram stops (4, 13) right by the entrance.  In true Swiss fashion, every detail has been carefully thought out, catering to both residents and visitors alike.

Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, Switzerland

Markthalle Im Viadukt
8005 Zürich
Im Viadukt:

Markthalle Im Viadukt, Zürich, Switzerland

19 Responses to “Beneath the Stone Arches”

  1. Caroline says:

    Wow how could this have happened?! I live around Zürich too and I didn’t even know about this place! Thanks a lot for posting about this, I can’t wait to check it out on Saturday!

  2. Lani says:

    I will be travelling soon to Zurich and can’t wait to experience the market under the the stone arches. I think it was a fabulous idea for those involved to make use of this space! I hope that it isn’t all that expensive! It looks so beautiful….even if on the other side is sort of grudgey. The photographs of the market are just beautiful…I do love the contrast of old and new….

  3. Valentina says:

    What a fabulous space! 36 arches has room for quite a few interesting stores.From what I gather there’s room for all. In the town I live we have a weekly market but the produce is just might have the odd quality stall but that’s about it. I often drive to neighbouring towns for quality. It’s just a short ride but I’d much prefer if it were a stroll. Must remember to check this place out if I go to zurich for a short break.

  4. Meeta says:

    ok this looks spectacular. i love when old meets new in architecture and this looks like it’s really been pulled of well. i love the fact that it a shopping paradise and you have to take me there whenever i visit!!

  5. Kerrin says:

    Caroline, oh I’m so glad I could let you know about it then. You’ll have to let me know what you think on Saturday. There is always so much going on around town, hard to keep up with it all. Just this past weekend there were almost 10 events. I chose the market opening of course ! 🙂

    Lani, perfect timing that you will be here soon, just days after the opening. I agree, such a creative and intelligent use of that space – and perfect mix of old and new. Enjoy your time in Zürich !

    Valentina, I would so do the same – go a bitter farther to get better produce, unfortunately not accessible by foot though. And yes if you come to Zürich, definitely something for the agenda !

    Meeta, a shopper’s paradise for you ! Of course I’ll take you there, it will be one of the first visits on the program. 🙂

  6. Anna Johnston says:

    Amazing architecture putting the old & new together so well. I’d love to see it. Love your photos too.

  7. Emma says:

    Cool! I like the bubble-shaped skylights that maybe somewhat mimic rain rolling off of the viaduct. I understood 0.1% of the market’s website, but that’s okay, the shops I could figure out sounded fun and/or tasty.

    Good looking plums, and are those huge green grapes to the left of the plums?? They’re massive (I think)! And yum to those pies — they look delicious!

  8. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    In Brisbane, we used to pull down all our old architecture (well, it seemed that way), so even though we don’t have that much history, what little we did has been significantly diminished. Fortunately that has changed recently, and we have a few special spots where the buildings are as old as you’re going to get. And to keep those old buildings and structures up with the times, it’s amazing what vision some architects have in blending old and new. This markthalle is such a great idea. Is the weather a driver of having an undercover market? Why no trading on Sunday? You said, open 6 days, closed Sunday “of course”. Hope the prices aren’t too outrageous that it detracts people from shopping there. I’d love to have a place like this around the corner from me!

  9. Jeanne @ CookSister! says:

    What a wonderful use of the viaduct arches! There is a similar idea in paris I think, using railway arches for arty shops – this is urban redevelopment at its best! Love the bubble skylights 🙂

  10. catty says:

    Zurich looks like such a beautiful city with character (and cranes)… I dont know if I will make it there before going back to Oz but so glad to get a sneak peek on your blog 🙂

  11. Julie the Alkaline Sister says:

    Wow Kerrin this place looks amazing! How lucky you are to live so close. Some days I wish for the old buildings and history to be closer to me-I feel so far away here in Canada. I guess I’ll just have to come visit you or live vicariously thru your lovely blog posts:)

  12. Mike Jones says:

    Nice photos and article and the Viadukt really is a beautiful place, I know because I’m lucky enough to work there! Long hours (8-8 6 days a week) but I can’t wait to get in to work in the morning.

  13. jen laceda says:

    I love markets and this one looks gorgeous!! Architecture-wise and food-wise 🙂

  14. Kerrin says:

    Anna, thank you. The architecture really is fascinating – every detail was taken into account so well.

    Emma, yeah those skylights are funky, and very cool especially if you arrive from the bridge above, neat view for sure. I like your comparison to rain, so creative. Sorry about the German website though. I don’t understand either (danke Google Translate), but it was still fun to scroll through all the shops and then visit those other websites, some not entirely in German. As for the “huge green grapes” you questioned – they are Greengage plums (Reine Claude in French) above between yellow mirabelle and purple plums. My favorite type of plum, yum.

    Julia, good questions. Sundays in Zurich have always been very quiet – practically all businesses are closed and people stay home with their families, a day to relax, not work or go out. This is the case in a lot of European cities in fact. Even though, the strict rule has certainly been loosening up a bit over the years.

    Jeanne, absolument ! The Viaduc des Arts is a similar concept to this – in Paris’ 12th arrondissement. I totally forgot to mention that, thanks so much for bringing that up. Here’s their website:

    catty, back to Oz ? I didn’t even know, where have I been ?! 😉 When ?? Good luck ! And Zurich really is a beautiful city… even with all those cranes !

    Julie, thanks ! And why not both… keep enjoying through the blog here – and then plan a visit one day too ! 🙂

    Mike, aha, an insider view 😉 You sure do have a tough schedule, but is there anything better than waking up each morning happy to go to work ? I think not. Thanks for the comment here. I just tasted some of your cheeses (again) yesterday, fantastic stuff ! I love those oat cakes too.

    jen, oh definitely – architecture and food, it’s tough to beat. I bet you’d love all the shopping too, really fantastic and unique shops. Gotta get you to Switzerland, girl ! 😉

  15. Emma says:

    Very true, plums, yum. Yes I noticed those greengages, but I meant the ones to the far left. They looked really large, but maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me. Mmm I made a greengage oat crisp last week; so maybe it wasn’t as beautiful as a purple plum crisp, but it sure was delicious!

  16. Sam sidney says:

    I think this is an absolutely perfect substitute of the chelsea market for you. I can’t think of a more perfect fit! I love the mix of both old and new architecture. Charleston is a super old town and they are continually finding ways to integrate some modern into it, i jut adore that combination!


  17. jen laceda says:

    Yes! I NEED to go to Switzerland!!!

  18. Kerrin says:

    Emma, oops – my bad. Yes those were some mega huge green grapes you saw. And a greengage oat crisp, that sounds fantastic. I saw your gorgeous chocolate pics and some of Boston too (yay !) on your flickr account, but where’s the crumble ?! 😉 Would you be so kind as to share your recipe ?

    Sam, oooh good call. I do love this viaduct market, but will still want to visit Chelsea Market on my next visit to NYC again ! That place is just phenomenal – I mean, where else can you get a lobster roll, Ronnybrook ice cream, Jacques Torres chocolates, Hale & Hearty soup, amazing breads and cookies AND fruit flavored ices all under one roof ? 🙂 Heading further south, I wish Charleston were closer.

    jen, told ya !! 🙂

  19. Steve says:

    You’re so right, this place is absolutely fantastic. I was very recently there and loved it. And your pictures captured it all brilliantly. I not only loved the architecture, but the shops were really cool too, with great products. Great find for you to share with all your readers. I agree and highly recommend a visit for all.

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