Zug – still to be discovered
Zug, the small, idyllic "metropolis" nestling between lake and mountains, is certainly cosmopolitan, and yet has still retained a friendly homeliness. Situated at the gateway to Central Switzerland, Zug boasts some richly varied scenery as well as a wide range of services and activities to suit the needs of every visitor.
One of the top attractions is the historical, carefully restored old town with its ancient buildings, some of which are up to 500 years old. The lake is the most beautiful part of Zug: not only the sunsets but also the changing light effects over the water at all times of the day throughout the year. Then there's our local mountain, the Zugerberg, which attracts nature-lovers in general, and hikers, walkers and cross-country skiers in particular.
There's plenty for culture enthusiasts too, such as fascinating buildings, numerous art galleries, museums and theatres. Every visitor will enjoy a stroll through the wide shopping malls and past attractive street cafés, and a walk by the lake is sufficient to put anyone in holiday mood. Seminar and congress organisers have at their disposal a wide selection of premises in a cosmopolitan environment of international format.
The town of Zug is the capital of the Canton with the same name - Zug being Switzerland's smallest full canton.
Area 238 km2
Number of communes 11
Number of inhabitants 100,000
Altitude of Zug town: 425 m above sea level
Number of inhabitants in the town: 23,200
The town lies on Lake Zug, on the road to the St. Gotthard Pass. In earlier times the route actually went over the lake, with Zug as transhipment point. On two particular occasions, in 1435 and 1887, the inhabitants of Zug had to cope with disaster, when a part of the town sank into the lake.
The Clock Tower
This landmark is 52 metres high and rises above the other towers of the town. It is now the entrance into Zug's beautiful old town. The lower part of the tower was originally built simply as a passage-way through the town wall, but over the centuries the tower has had many different functions. It was the fortified entrance into the town – locked every night – but also the town’s prison and watch tower, and a look-out point for fires. Of particular interest today is the astronomical clock. If you wish to climb to the top of the tower, the key can be obtained from the police station, right next to the entrance.
The Town Hall
At the end of the 15th century, Zug town became wealthy when the Swiss won the Burgundian war and brought home rich booty. A town hall was built between 1505-09 in late-gothic style; the ground floor of which was used as a market place. Over the years the first and second floors of the Town Hall have been adapted to the needs of court and council and still today the rooms are put to their original use by the municipality, who also owns the building.
The Greth-Schell Well
Greth Schell comes alive once a year: on Monday of Carnival Week (February 23, 2004) Accompanied by seven jesters, she carries her drunken husband home through the old town in a pannier on her back. The children shout out “Greth Schellebey” and catch the handfuls of sweets thrown to them.
The Casino Theatre
Plays have been performed on this lovely lakeside spot since 1909 - scene too of many other presentations. Two well-known Zug architects, Dagobert Keiser and Richard Bracher, designed the older part of the building, which reflects the baroque style of the old town nearby. As far back as 1809, a group of lay actors organised themselves into the Theatre and Music Company Zug, achieving great success with operas and operettas too. Today the Casino Theatre offers a wide selection of plays, musicals, operas, operettas and concerts, engaging professional ensembles from virtually all over the world.
In 1979-81 the new building, again designed by two Zug architects, was added to the original. This houses the new auditorium and a gourmet restaurant with a lakeside terrace and wonderful lake views.
The Castle Museum
The beginnings of the castle settlement go back to the 11th century. In around 1200 the Counts of Kyburg, founders of Zug, built the tower, and over the centuries the castle changed from being a fortification to a residence, and from the end of the 14th century right up until 1945 it was in the private ownership of Zug families. In 1982 it was restored to how it looked in around 1770 and a moat was added, which is as we see it today. Since 1983 a history museum has been housed here. On view to the public are the historical rooms, paintings, sculptures, paintings on glass, gold work, furniture, costumes and also everyday utensils. An audio-visual model of the town conveys graphically the history of Zug.
The Art Gallery
The Art Gallery has been housed in this baroque manor house since 1990. Five to six exhibitions are shown annually, dedicated to present-day and 20th century art. The main focus of the collections are on Swiss Surrealism and Fantastic, as well as art from Zug and Central Switzerland. Since 1996 international artists have been engaged to work for the Museum for a certain number of years To date Tadashi Kawamata (Japan), Richard Tuttle (USA) and Pavel Pepperstein (Russia). Kawamata has created a pathway in wood, which starts with the steps in front of the gallery. In the garden can be seen, among other works, sculptures by the Austrian sculptor, Fritz Wotruba. He lived in exile in Zug during the second World War and was befriended by the Kamm family from Zug, who began collecting works by modern Viennese artists (Klimt, Kokoschka, Schiele and many others). In 1998 the family donated its collection to the Art Gallery.
The Fishing Museum with Fish-Hatchery
Since the end of the 19th century there has been a hatchery and a fishing museum in Zug. The name “Zug” comes from “Fischzug” meaning fish draught. From December to May one can observe the eggs and spawn of the fine “Rötel” (red trout) from Lake Zug, as well as white-fish, pike and brown trout. The hatching glass – a renowned Zug invention dating back to 1882 – can be seen here along with curiosities like bridal wreaths made out of fish scales and the so-called human fish.
The Africa Museum
In this richly-painted mission house of the Sisters of Saint Peter Claver, masks and fetishes from Central Africa are on show, as well as wood carvings household utensils, jewellery and musical instruments.
The Prehistorical Museum
This highly-interesting museum appeals to all age-groups from small children to adults. As well as displaying objects in glass cases, it also offers audio-visual descriptions of early times, with life-sized displays and models of settlements: for example, a reindeer-hunter's camp in the Ice Age, a pile-village in the New Stone Age or a sacrificial scene on a Roman tomb. The highlight of the Museum is the scale-model of a house from the Bronze Age, and there is a special gallery for children, with games and books.
No matter whether you want to try a Zug kirsch gateau or to enjoy a gourmet meal, a delicious fish dish or a traditional Swiss meal, the place to be is Zug. The number of excellent restaurants in the town – and indeed the Canton – has added yet another dimension to the reputation of this area. Come and see for yourself. Switzerland's culinary stronghold awaits!
Almost as famous as the Zug kirsch gateau is the finest of trout: the lake saibling (savelinus alpinus) or Zuger Rötel as it is known here.
Here's a favourite recipe using Rötel:
4 fresh saiblings about 200g each
10 g butter
fresh herbs: tarragon, dill, thyme, sage, marjoram
100g green beans
Preheat the oven to 160 C. Slit the fish open and season inside and out with salt and pepper, fill with the herbs and put into a buttered oven-proof dish. Cut the vegetables into sticks and boil briefly in salted water. Use the vegetable water to cover the fish: put the vegetables on to a serving dish and keep warm. Bake the fish in the oven for a quarter of an hour, by which time it should be just firm. Remove from the oven and place on the bed of vegetables. Melt the butter in a little of the water and pour over the fish.
A Local Speciality
Zug kirsch, the Zug kirsch gateau and other sweet Zug specialities are well-known far beyond the Swiss borders.
The Zug Kirschtorte – Queen of Gateaux
The Zug kirsch gateau has become firmly established in the world of international confectionery and catering, and amazingly it has only taken a few years for it to reach this position. In its present form, the gateau is a relatively recent creation (1921). Hundreds of thousands of Zug kirsch gateaux have found their way from Zug bakeries to "Kirschtorte" lovers throughout the world. Countless gatherings have been enhanced by this clever but simple top-quality confection, which has helped to promote the good name of Swiss confectionery and of our small canton. We leave it to our customers and guests to decide which master pastry-cook has managed to please the pallet most. In any event, we are proud of our Zug "Kirschtorte" and hope you like it too.
The principle is that the sponge-cake, as heavily soaked as possible, is placed between two flat biscuit-like macaroon bases. We wrap the soaked sponge in the thinnest possible layer of butter cream, so that the kirsch does not run out, and also join the sponge and the macaroon rounds together with butter cream. The sides are then covered with roasted almonds and the top with icing sugar.
Etter Kirsch of Zug, fruit Eau-de-vie made from Swiss cherries
The original Etter Kirsch from Zug is a unique and remarkable natural product! And it is in this very region that the best cherries used for distilling Kirsch in the world flourish. Family Etter takes great pride in its products, which is why they only use top quality swiss fruit only for all their fruit spirits. Kirsch is the king amongst noble Eau-de-vie, and is the classic Swiss speciality. The raw material for Etter Kirsch is the small, aromatic, black “Mountain Cherry”. After having been carefully distilled, the young Kirsch is then transferred to 50 litre demijohns. These bottles are then subjected to the mercurial changes of temperature prevalent in Alpine regions. It is as a result of this process that the Kirsch obtains its incomparable aroma. The Kirsch is transferred into original Etter bottles after having been matured for several years. This noble Fruit Eau-de-vie makes a wonderful after-dinner drink and as a digestive, especially an old Etter Kirsch, is incomparable. Each 70 cl bottle of original Etter “Zuger Kirsch” captures the flavour of seven kilograms of hand picked, small, black Swiss cherries.