Zurich Oberland

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Pfäffikersee, Kempten near Wetzikon and the Bachtel
View over the Tösstal (front) to the south to the Alps; Bauma is to the left of the engine, Oberhofen bei Turbenthal is at the bottom left
At Turbenthal in the Tösstal
City center of Uster

The Zürcher Oberland (Swiss German Züri-Oberland ) describes the largely hilly, partly rural, partly highly urbanized landscape in the south-east of the canton of Zurich . This includes the three cities of Uster , Wetzikon and Hinwil , the Greifensee and the Pfäffikersee and the Tössbergland marked by the Töss with the pre-alpine hills Bachtel , Schnebelhorn and many other scenic and cultural characteristics.


S-Bahn in the moor landscape between Bubikon and Wetzikon

The Zurich Oberland includes the Zurich districts of Uster , Hinwil , Pfäffikon and the Middle Tösstal in the Winterthur district . Around Greifen- and Pfäffikersee there are still flat and slightly hilly areas, often also characterized by protected moorland and drumlins . The mountains of the Oberland rise further to the east with the Bachtel (1115 m above sea level) in a first chain of hills and the Schnebelhorn (1292 m above sea level) and Hörnli (1133 m above sea level) in the rear chain the border with the canton of St. Gallen . These excursion points - very popular with hikers and bikers - offer sweeping panoramic views from the Alps over Lake Zurich and the Zurich Unterland to Lake Constance and Säntis .

The following communities belong to the Zürcher Oberland:

local community district region Population
(December 31, 2018)
Bäretswil Hinwil Bachtel 5029
Bauma Pfaffikon Tösstal 4965
Bubikon Hinwil Bachtel 7334
Dürnten Hinwil Bachtel 7637
Egg Uster Pan handle 8598
Fällanden Uster Greifensee 8672
Fehraltorf Pfaffikon Kempt Valley 6435
Fischenthal Hinwil Tösstal 2501
Gossau Hinwil Upper Glatttal 10222
Greifensee Uster Greifensee 5358
Grüningen Hinwil Upper Glatttal 3475
Hinwil Hinwil Bachtel 11138
Hittnau Pfaffikon Pfäffikersee 3688
Illnau-Effretikon Pfaffikon Kempt Valley 17068
Maur Uster Pan handle 10215
Mönchaltorf Uster Upper Glatttal 3769
Pfaffikon Pfaffikon Pfäffikersee 11935
Russikon Pfaffikon Kemptt Valley 4370
Rüti Hinwil Bachtel 12174
Schlatt Winterthur Tösstal 769
Schwerzenbach Uster Greifensee 5115
Sea trenches Hinwil Pfäffikersee 1443
Turbenthal Winterthur Tösstal 4900
Uster Uster Greifensee 34722
Volketswil Uster Greifensee 18669
Forest Hinwil Bachtel 9949
Weisslingen Pfaffikon Tösstal 3384
Wetzikon Hinwil Pfäffikersee 24809
Wila Pfaffikon Tösstal 1971
Wildberg Pfaffikon Tösstal 1006
Cell Winterthur Tösstal 6032

The following municipalities are also members of the Pro Zurich Mountain Area organization :

Outside the canton
local community district region Residents 1
Bichelsee-Balterswil ( TG ) Münchwilen 2864
Eschenbach ( SG ) Sea gaster 9605
Fischingen (TG) Münchwilen 2792
1 TG: as of December 31, 2018;
SG: As of December 31, 2018


Sights include the Zürcher Oberland steam train from Bauma to Hinwil, Kyburg Castle , the Bubikon Knights' House , the dinosaur museum in Aathal and the industrial path from Uster to Bauma. This testifies to an industrial development that was largely determined in the course of the 19th century by the initiative of Adolf Guyer-Zeller (1839–1899). The Tösstalbahn was built in an effort to make the village of Bauma a world trade center. Even today, the tracks from Hinwil to Bauma, which are still in operation on weekends in summer, testify to the lively interest of this man, who did not neglect other projects such as the Uerikon-Bauma railway and in later years (1893) also Realizing a major project like the Jungfrau Railway.

At the beginning of the last century, the Oberland was a popular destination for the city of Zurich, and the Fischenthal and Steg ski lifts were easy to reach with the Tösstalbahn. The importance of this nearby recreational area was lost due to the greater mobility. On the other hand, thanks to the Zurich S-Bahn , the region is a quiet place to live for people who work in Zurich. Uster is less than a quarter of an hour away from Zurich by train. Today, the local recreation area of ​​the Zurich Oberland is valued by townspeople in the nearby agglomerations as well as by locals. With the award of third place in the ranking of the BAK Basel 2014, the Zürcher Oberland positions itself among the top excursion destinations in Switzerland. Zürioberland Tourismus is responsible for marketing the region .


Witnesses from prehistory and early history

Irgenhausen Castle

The Zurich Oberland shows traces of a very early settlement. There are grave mounds from the Neolithic in various places. Remains of pile dwellings of various ages have been found on the banks of the Pfäffikersee and Greifensee. The Wetzikon-Robenhausen settlement area discovered by Jakob Messikommer was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2011 as part of the lakeside settlements in the Alpine region .

The Irgenhausen fort on the Pfäffikon municipal area and manors in Wetzikon and Seegräben prove that the Zurich Oberland was also settled in Roman times .

Medieval buildings

Ritterhaus Bubikon

There are numerous castles from the Middle Ages in the Zurich Oberland , of which only ruins remain today. These include the Alt-Landenberg ruins in Bauma and Breitlandenberg in Turbenthal. Two imposing castle buildings have been preserved to this day: Greifensee Castle and Kyburg Castle .

Small medieval towns, some of which have been preserved, are the settlement centers of Grüningen and Greifensee .

The pre-Reformation sacred cultural heritage includes a good dozen churches in the region , such as the Dürnten Church with a carved wooden ceiling or the Lazariterkirche Gfenn near Dübendorf. Special mention should be made of the Ritterhaus Bubikon , a well-preserved former commander of the Order of St. John in the municipality of Bubikon and the Way of St. James from Konstanz to Einsiedeln, which leads through the Zurich Oberland.

Architecture of the baroque and classicism

Interior of the late Rococo transverse church by Franz Schmid in Hinwil, built in 1786
Rüti Monastery, 1741: In the foreground the ski jump, in the middle distance the office building, in the background the medieval church

In the early modern period , the area was largely rural and under the rule of Zurich. Therefore, there are relatively few representative art monuments from this period. An exception is the expansion of the former Rüti monastery into a stately official residence from 1707–1710 by master builder Matthias Vogel . However, it was only with the boom of the home industry from the end of the 18th century and of the textile factories from the early 19th century that representative buildings emerged on a larger scale. For example, the centers of Uster and Wald are strongly influenced by this boom.

This time, the so-called saddle time , also brought the heyday of sacred architecture. Starting with the late Rococo - Church Hinwil from 1786 and culminating in 1824 in the neoclassical church-examination , the Zurich Oberland developed into a focus area of the cross church building . This typical Protestant type of church is represented in six parishes.

Folklore and Customs

The inscriptions on the porch purlins of the houses of the rural upper class show the emancipation of these circles from the domination of the city of Zurich in the Ancien Régime . The first inscriptions appear in the middle of the 17th century with the advent of the Enlightenment. Significantly, this tradition breaks off suddenly with the Ustertag 1830 (equal rights for city and landscape).

The inscriptions are all structured in the same way: They usually begin with a blessing, from which one has wrongly concluded that the Oberlanders are particularly pious. With the inscription, the client is self-confident by listing his first name, surname and his political office (e.g. magistrate, clergyman, lieutenant). His wife is rarely mentioned. This is followed by the master carpenter and the exact erection date of the house with day, month and year. The conclusion is the indication of inflation (price of grain and wine as the most important products of agriculture at that time). In addition, there is often meteorological information or reports on particular catastrophes such as village fires or storms. These inscriptions only occur in the Zurich Oberland; they are absent in the rest of the canton of Zurich or in Switzerland. They form an important basis for folklore, local history, family research, linguistic history, religion and the economic development of the Zurich Oberland. There are currently 437 inscriptions left.

Since 1099 there has been a cattle and goods market in Uster. The Uster Märt is the oldest market in the canton of Zurich. On the last Thursday of November in November and the following Friday, around 500 market stalls, an agricultural machinery market with around 100 exhibitors, as well as many market pubs and fairground attractions attract people from all over the canton. In the municipality of Wald, the New Year's Eve has been dealing with his snapper on the last day of the year for around a hundred years. You drive away evil and wish you good luck for the new year.

The custom of the Schübligziischtig is celebrated in the Zurich Oberland on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday .

Economic history

Craft and trade

Crafts and trades have always been of great importance in the Zurich Oberland. The Züri Oberland Heimatwerk in Bauma, the Brüngger winch maker in Wila, the Sagi Stockrüti in Bäretswil and the Kleinthal turnery in Fischenthal are just as much an expression of this as the many mills (in Russikon and Pfäffikon), dye works (in Wetzikon, Bauma and Greifensee), the The Kuhn Rikon company , known for their pressure cooker pots , or the Maggi works in Kemptthal. The mass production of wooden trowels earned the Tössthal the name Chelleland . The hand-carved Chellen brought the poor Zurich Oberland do-it-yourselfers a modest additional income during the period of proto-industrialization. They were brought from the region by peddler and sold.

Textile industry

Industrial culture Neuthal, Bäretswil

The textile industry has had a major impact on the Zurich Oberland. Numerous spinning mills and weaving mills have sprung up along the Aabach (popularly known as the “Mio.bach”), between the Pfäffikersee and the Greifensee, the Töss and the Jona . This area was already particularly densely populated at the end of the 18th century. In the 19th century a strong branch of industry developed that produced textile machines and accessories. The Sulzer Rüti machine factory and the Zellweger from Uster delivered cotton measuring devices all over the world.

The technical innovations also had a great influence on social history . The living conditions of factory owners such as Caspar Honegger , Adolf Guyer-Zeller , Heinrich Kunz, Jakob and Berta Heusser-Staub or Johann Jakob Trümpler differed fundamentally from those of the workers . The transition from home to factory work caused great social tensions, which erupted in the fire of 1832 .

The Zürcher Oberland industrial nature trail leads through various sections of the textile industry in the Zurich Oberland. In the Neuthal factory area there is a weaving machine collection that is unique in Europe, the Neuthal museum spinning mill and the Neuthal hand machine embroidery .

car industry

The watchmaker Martin Fischer and the bookbinder Paul Vorbrodt founded the Turicum AG automobile factory in 1904 . From 1907 they produced their cars in Uster, from where they exported them all over the world. Few copies are still preserved, for example in the Museum of Transport in Lucerne or in the Junod Vehicle Museum in Bäretswil. In 1918 Franz Brozincevic began to manufacture trucks and buses under the brand name FBW in Wetzikon . He was one of the most important truck, bus and trolleybus manufacturers in Switzerland. The car mechanic Fritz Bührer designed his own tractors in Hinwil in the late 1920s , had them patented and became the largest tractor manufacturer in Switzerland. The Swiss motorsport racing team, Sauber Motorsport, has been based in Hinwil since 1982 . The Sauber F1 Team is involved in the Formula 1 World Championship.


While the region used to make a name for itself with weaving and spinning mills, companies from Oberland today export a particularly high proportion of medium and high-tech products all over the world. Mettler-Toledo from Greifensee produces precision scales , Reichle & De-Massari from Wetzikon specializes in information and communication technology, Belimo manufactures intelligent drive solutions for heating and air conditioning systems. The Ferag headquartered in Hinwil specializes in the design and manufacture of handling and processing systems, as well as total solutions and software for the control and visualization of processes of all kinds. KABA in Wetzikon creates locking systems and services for the protection of people and property. Uster Technologies are closely interwoven with the textile industry .

Traffic history

Rail transport

The Zurich Oberland was opened up early on by rail . The Glatthalbahn was the first and most important line to go into operation in 1856. The Lokremise in Uster, the oldest ring segment shed with a workshop building in Switzerland , also dates from this time . From 1884 to 1902, the Arlberg Express also ran from Zurich to Vienna on this line. Wetzikon became a railway junction with the opening of the Kempttalbahn in 1876 .

Since 1903, the Wetzikon-Meilen-Bahn frequented the Wetzikon station as the third line - as a reaction to the Uerikon-Bauma-Bahn built in 1901 by railway king Adolf Guyer-Zeller , the route of which did not go through the Unterwetzikon station junction, but rather through Emmetschloo above the village. The same year also saw the inauguration of the Wetziker tram, the Bünzli truck, which, as a continuation of the Wetzikon-Meilen-Bahn, commuted between Unterwetzikon station and Kempten. Uster also wanted a cross connection to Lake Zurich and a connection to the UeBB, but the railway, which opened in 1909, only ran from Uster via Mönchaltorf to Oetwil .

The Swiss National Railway was looking for a train connection from Winterthur through the Tösstal to Uznach at an early stage . The Tösstalbahn has been running from Winterthur Grüze station via Turbenthal, Bauma and Wald to Rüti since 1876, thus providing a connection to the Glatthalbahn. On the former UeBB route between Bauma and Hinwil, the Zürcher Oberland Steam Railway Association has been running regular steam train journeys with historic wagons and locomotives since it was founded in 1978.

In 1990 the S-Bahn started operations. The rapid connection S5 triggered a surge in urbanization in the Zurich Oberland. A research project spoke of the S5 city .


Dübendorf is considered the cradle of Swiss aviation . Aviation pioneers Walter Mittelholzer and Oskar Bider worked there . While parts of the Swiss Air Force have been active at the Dübendorf military airfield since 1914 , Swissair was based in Dübendorf from 1932 to 1948 and its predecessor Ad Astra Aero from 1919. The Flieger-Flab-Museum has been located on the site since 1972 and is dedicated to the history of Swiss military aviation and anti-aircraft defense.

On the southern slope of the Bachtel, the Hasenstrick airfield was operated for a while . Fehraltorf is home to the Speck airfield, where the Zürcher Oberland aviation group trains.


On the Pfäffikersee and Greifensee only ships up to 7.5 meters long or 2.5 meters wide are allowed to sail. Rowing boats are allowed, but no pedalos or moving fins. Ships of the shipping cooperative Greifensee operate on the Greifensee. The steamship Greif , built in 1895 and renovated between 1986 and 1988 according to the original plans , is the oldest and only coal-fired steamship in public passenger shipping in Switzerland.

Streets and paths

The road, hiking and biking route network in the Zurich Oberland is well developed. Only the Oberland Autobahn is not continuous between Uster and Hinwil. Numerous thematic and culturally and historically interesting trails lead through the Zurich Oberland, such as the national Jakobsweg , the Guyer-Zeller hiking trails or the industrial trail. There are also local tours and regional cultural trails.


In the Zurich Oberland, Zurich German is spoken with the Zurich Oberland expression . The dialect shows some deviations from that of the city of Zurich . Most noticeable is the long closed oo instead of the aa : Strooss (otherwise Straass ). The population mix is ​​increasingly blurring these differences. The original dialect lives in the works of poets and writers such as Ruedi Kägi (1882–1959) from Dürnten, Otto Schaufelberger (1901–1987), Barbara Egli (* 1918) from Wila, Peter Wettstein (* 1939) from Pfäffikon ZH and Richard Ehrensperger (* 1940) from Bäretswil continues.

Art and architecture

A number of well-known artists have made the Zurich Oberland and its peculiarities known. The writers include the folk poets Jakob Stutz (1801–1877) from Hittnau and Otto Schaufelberger (1901–1987) from Rüti or Olga Meyer (1889–1972), whose classic children's book Anneli describes the hard life of a working-class child in Turbenthal .

The known about the Zurich Oberland addition composers heard Hans Georg Nägeli (1773-1836) from Wetzikon , who also worked as a music teacher and publisher. And Paul Burkhard's (1911–1977) place of residence in Zell is well known in Switzerland thanks to his Zäller Wiehnacht .

The photographer Jakob Tuggener (1904–1988) created an artistic monument to the local landscape with his illustrated book Zürcher Oberland .

The actor Jörg Schneider (* 1935), who lived in Wetzikon until his death in 2015, is one of the most important stage artists from the region . Thanks to his radio play versions of Kasperli's adventures, made between 1967 and 1976, he is still present in the nurseries of German-speaking Switzerland.

Building culture

Flarz with Haus Freddi, Undalen near Bauma

The Zurich Oberland is rich in different building types from different times. A very typical building is the Flarz , the house for small farmers and home workers . It is a building consisting of several residential units built together similar to a modern row house .

The industrialization changed mid-19th century, the local and village pictures that had formerly been mainly characterized by farmhouses, strong. In addition to large industrial buildings , urban-looking factory owners ' villas were built with large parks , which are often closely related to the water structures , ponds and canal systems that are important for energy generation , such as in the Trümpler area in Oberuster or at Idewe in Wetzikon. The first multi-family houses , the so-called food or workers' houses , were built for the workers. Since the decline of the textile industry in the last third of the 20th century, the conversion of these industrial areas has become a central issue.

City of Grüningen

In the Zurich Oberland there is also modern architecture such as the pavilion by architect Roland Rohn in the Zellweger area in Uster. The Zürcher Oberland Cantonal School (KZO) in Wetzikon is known far beyond the region and, like the Rohn Pavilion , attracts architecture tourists to the Zurich Oberland. The Zürcher Oberland Architecture Forum has awarded the Zürcher Oberland Building Prize every year since 2001 . Grüningen (1976) and Uster (2001) received the Wakker Prize of the Swiss Homeland Security . In 2014 Uster also received the Schulthess Garden Prize for its long-term and exemplary planning and implementation of green spaces.


Various milk and cheese specialties as well as baked goods, pasta, eggs, meat products and fish, beverages, honey, mushrooms and wood from the Zurich mountain region are marketed under the label naturli . The Uster apple is a typical agricultural product from the Zurich Oberland. The variety with the small, yellow fruits was imported to Uster from the Netherlands in the 18th century. The Strickhof in Lindau specializes in training in agriculture and the food industry. It also serves as a test facility for variety and cultivation technology trials. The Jucker Farm adventure farm from Seegräben, which hosts the largest pumpkin exhibition in Switzerland every autumn , has made a name for itself recently .

Rivella , the carbonated table drink made from milk serum , was temporarily produced in Uster. Even though bottling was relocated to Rothrist in 1954 , the milk serum concentrate was still produced in Uster until 1999. Between 1858 and 1978 beer was brewed in Uster, first on Sennhüttenstrasse and from 1901 on Brauereistrasse. In 2009 the brewery and traditional Usterbräu were brought back to life.

The Jowa bakery , a wholly owned subsidiary of Migros, is located in the Zurich Oberland . Its origins go back to the founding of the company and the first location in Jonatal in Wald. The name originated from the combination of "Jonatal" and "Wald". Today it consists of a whole network of regional bakeries with the main location in Volketswil.

Various baked goods are traditionally made in the Zurich Oberland . The Voland confectionery in Bauma bakes its filled gingerbread, the Baumerfladen , according to a recipe that is over 100 years old, and the Honegger confectionery in Wald is known for its Tirggel .

In the Leibacher beaver manufacture in Wermatswil, Uster, beaver models and beavers are handcrafted according to traditional Swiss craftsmanship.


In most municipalities, in addition to the anonymous ballots at the municipal assemblies, important political matters are discussed very directly and either accepted or rejected by vote. Only Uster, Illnau-Effretikon, Dübendorf and, since 2014, Wetzikon have a municipal parliament.

Ustertag is celebrated every year on a Sunday at the end of November . It recalls November 22, 1830, when around ten thousand men from the Zurich countryside gathered on the Zimiker Hill in Uster and demanded a new constitution with the Uster memorial . The main concern was equality between town and country. The Ustertag marked the political turning point towards the modern Canton of Zurich .

In addition to the mandatory regional planning, the Zürcher Oberland (RZO) region also carries out joint regional location promotion in the fields of leisure, tourism, housing and business. In addition, the regional cultural heritage is jointly maintained and cultural creation is promoted. The various associations and clubs present themselves together under the regional umbrella of natural Zürioberland.

On behalf of the federal government and the cantons of Zurich, Thurgau and St. Gallen and 13 member municipalities, the Pro Zürcher Berggebiet municipal association also implements the New Regional Policy (NRP) in the mountainous municipalities. The new regional policy as an instrument improves the situation in mountain areas in rural areas and the border regions and thus increases their competitiveness.


  • Bernhard Nievergelt and Hansruedi Wildermuth (Hrsg.): A landscape and its life: the Zurich Oberland. vdf, university publisher at the ETH, Zurich 2001, ISBN 3-7281-2689-6 . ( Full text in google book search)
  • Peter Surbeck: The inscriptions on farmhouses in the Zurich Oberland. Adjacent areas. Publishing house USTER-Info GmbH, Uster 2004, ISBN 3-908678-20-X .
  • Hans-Peter Bärtschi: Industrial culture in the canton of Zurich: On the way to 222 locations of productive work. Rotpunktverlag, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-85869-407-2 .
  • Hans-Peter Bärtschi: The Zürcher Oberland industrial trail. 128 pages, with 80 photos, object and situation sketches and plans. 2nd Edition. Wetzikon, publishing house of the printing company Wetzikon 1994, ISBN 3-85981-163-0 .
  • Hanspeter Bärtschi… [et al.]: The industrial revolution in the Zurich Oberland: from industrial development to an industrial educational trail. Book publisher of the printing company Wetzikon, Wetzikon, 1985, ISBN 3-85981-132-0
  • Jakob Tuggener, Emil Egli: Zürcher Oberland, a photo book by Jakob Tuggener. Book publisher of the Wetzikon printing company, Wetzikon 1956.

Web links

Commons : Zürcher Oberland  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Zurich Oberland  - travel guide

Individual evidence

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