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Winterthur is a city in the canton of Zürich in northern Switzerland. It has the country’s sixth largest population, estimated at more than 100,000 people. Today Winterthur is a service and high-tech industry centre, but many people make use of its proximity to Zürich, which lies approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) to the south-west, and only 22 minutes by train.

The official language of Winterthur is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect. In the local dialect and by its inhabitants, Winterthur is usually abbreviated as Winti.

Winterthur is connected to Germany by direct trains and enjoys links to Zürich Airport. It is also a regional transport hub: the A1 motorway from Geneva through to St. Margrethen connects in Winterthur with the A4 motorway heading north toward Schaffhausen and the A7 motorway heading close to the Swiss-German border at Kreuzlingen. There are also roads leading to other places such as Turbenthal. The railway station Bahnhof Winterthur is one of the busiest railway stations in Switzerland.

Population

Winterthur (French: Winterthour) is a city in the canton of Zürich in northern Switzerland. It has the country’s sixth largest population, estimated at over 108,000 people, and the ninth largest agglomeration with about 138,000 inhabitants.

Language

The official language of Winterthur is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

Currency

Currency in Switzerland: Swiss franc (CHF)

Image result for Swiss franc (CHF) banknotes

Geography

Winterthur is located at an elevation of 439 meters (1,440 ft). The city is located in a basin south and east of the Töss river. The Eulach, a little river, flows in the middle by the city, because of this the town is called “Eulach-City”. Zürich lies about 30 km (19 mi) southwest of Winterthur.

Winterthur has an area of 68.1 km2 (26.3 sq mi). Of this area, 27% is used for agricultural purposes, while 41.4% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 30.8% is settled (buildings or roads) and the remainder (0.8%) is non-productive (rivers, glaciers or mountains). In 1996 housing and buildings made up 21.9% of the total area, while transportation infrastructure made up the rest (9%). Of the total unproductive area, water (streams and lakes) made up 0.6% of the area. As of 2007, 27.6% of the total municipal area was undergoing some type of construction.

Economy

Economically, Winterthur was one of the homes of Switzerland’s rail industry and an industrial centre. The rail industry and other heavy industry have largely disappeared. Amongst the most significant companies was Sulzer Brothers, today’s Sulzer Ltd., Sulzer AG, commonly abbreviated to Sulzer. Textile production declined even earlier on. Also the Rieter company comes from Winterthur.

Switzerland’s largest bank, and one of the world’s large banks, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), since 1998 UBS AG, was also founded in Winterthur.

The Landbote newspaper is situated in Winterthur, and also serves as Winterthurer Stadtanzeiger, the official publication organ of the city of Winterthur.

Peraves, the manufacturer of the fully enclosed “cabin motorcycle” named the Monotracer, predated by an earlier model named the Ecomobile, has been manufacturing the unusual vehicles since the early 1980s. In 2010, Peraves won the Progressive Insurance Automotive X-Prize with an electric powered version of the Monotracer.

Among other commercial organizations, Winterthur was home to Switzerland’s largest insurance business “Winterthur Insurance”. Until 2006, the company was the largest in Switzerland and was in Europe’s top 10. On 1 January 2007 the Winterthur company was officially acquired by the French AXA group and is now known as AXA Winterthur.

Winterthur has an unemployment rate of 3.13%. As of 2005, there were 594 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 97 businesses involved in this sector; 11603 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 717 businesses in this sector; 39982 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 3570 businesses in this sector. As of 2007 47.9% of the working population were employed full-time, and 52.1% were employed part-time. Note that in Switzerland “part-time” refers to anything less than full-time, for example 80% of working hours.

Culture

Music

Winterthur’s chamber orchestra Orchester Musikkollegium Winterthur is the oldest orchestra in Switzerland, and also plays at the Zürich Opera. Between 1922 and 1950, the philanthropist Werner Reinhart and the conductor Hermann Scherchen played a leading role in shaping the musical life of Winterthur, with numerous premiere performances emphasizing contemporary music.

The city hall Stadthaus, in which the concerts of the Musikkollegium take place, was built by Gottfried Semper.

Musikfestwochen, in late August and early September, sees Winterthur’s Old Town taken over for live music of all kinds, in the street and bars as well as in concert venues.

The “Albanifest”, the largest annual festival in a historic town in Switzerland, is named after St Alban, one of the city’s four saints, is held here, over three days in late June every year. Although a recent creation, the festival celebrates the granting of a charter to the town in 1264 by Rudolf of Habsburg on 22 June of that year, which happened to be the saint’s day.

The church of St. Laurenz in the city centre dates from 1264, the town hall was built in 1781, the assembly hall in 1865.

In 1989, Winterthur received the Wakker Prize for the development and preservation of its architectural heritage.

The Swiss folk metal band Eluveitie was formed in Winterthur and the Punkabilly band The Peacocks comes from here.

Arts

Open Doors

Open Doors is an artist supported platform for artists with art studios in Winterthur, Switzerland. The platform was established to bridge arts and the community as well as provide the artists with means to independently promote their art in any way they choose. Open Doors takes place annually during the last weekend of September. Participating artists open their studios to the public and present their art to the public. Oftentimes it is possible to view the artists while they are working. Among the approximate 60 artists who participate there are local, international, autodidacts and art academy graduates. Open Doors Winterthur was founded in 2008 by San Francisco born artist Michelle Bird and resident of Winterthur. Open Doors Winterthur publishes the annual MAP Magazine Artist Professionals which is available on line and in print form. MAP Magazine features articles about local art initiatives and profiles local artists and their art studios. The event is supported by a map that indicates the location of each artist’s studio on a map.

Transport

Bahnhof Winterthur, the central station, is one of the busiest stations on the Swiss Railway Network with 122,000 passengers a day. As the town is close to Zürich, it is served by many trains on the local Zürich S-Bahn network. EuroCity services to Munich and regional trains to St. Gallen, Konstanz or Romanshorn also serve the station. As well as the Hauptbahnhof, there are nine more stations within the city, called Oberwinterthur, Seen, Grüze, Töss, Hegi, Reutlingen, Wülflingen, Wallrüti and Sennhof-Kyburg.

The local public transport is run by STADTBUS Winterthur with twelve town bus lines, including the Winterthur trolleybus system, and five regional bus lines.