By Raph al Guul
I happened to attend the Erstsemestrigentag event recently (five years after I immatriculated myself) and I remembered how little I knew about how to get around Zurich back when I started. Admittedly, it would have been easier if I had been from Zurich or at least the general area, and if I wasn’t notoriously bad at orientation. You could give me a map and written instructions and I’d still not find my way out of an empty supermarket in under an hour. Luckily the FAVA always organizes guides for the new students. However, if you missed the opportunity or you are like me and require colored arrows before you find your way through unfamiliar places, the following should help you find two locations that I consider particularly important for the English student in Zurich. Although I wonder if you’d want to trust my directions after I just explained to you how easily I myself get lost.
As the title indicates, the two places in question are the English Seminar and the Zentralbibliothek. Both “virtual tours” begin at the main building, so you should at least know where that is (Rämistrasse 71). Note that if you would like to find either of these places from a different starting location, the instructions here will probably not be particularly helpful. This guide serves as an early introduction to the location of and paths to important buildings for students of English.
These are the abbreviations and colors used in pictures and on maps:
KOL, Blue: The University of Zurich’s main building at Rämistrasse 71
PLH, Yellow: The English Seminar at Plattenstrasse 47
ZEN, Orange: The Zentralbibliothek at Zäringerplatz 6
Additional locations, White: PLATTE (tram station), CENTRAL (tram station), PET (Pestalozzistrasse 50)
The black arrows indicate in which direction corresponding pictures were taken. Each picture has a number in the upper left corner. One picture, A2, is not included, but appears on the map. Don’t worry about that.
And here is the full map with both tours and alternative routes in dashed lines (click to enlarge):
A. English Seminar (PLH)
For a student of English, it may be useful to know how to reach the English Seminar; here is the map for this tour (click to enlarge):There are two main routes to the English Seminar from the main building. The first one, fairly straight-forward, leads through Gloriastrasse. The one we will look at here goes past the German Seminar and is slightly (but only slightly) more complicated. We will follow the yellow line on the map. Remeber that each picture taken in the streets is marked on the map, which should help with orientation. Also note that neither of these two tours requires actually entering any buildings. Thus, we start outside the main building, specifically on the west side:As the yellow arrow indicates, you move to the right along the building. When you reach the corner, take it and make your way up the stairs. Note that the Mensa is nearby. If you want to know how to get there, see A2a.At the end of the stairs, you take a right turn:Follow this street (Schönbergstrasse). It will take a left turn and end when it meets Rämistrasse. Here you will also find tram connections to places such as Stadelhofen and Oerlikon. Cross Rämistrasse and walk down to Zürichbergstrasse, which starts right between the two tram stations:Now you simply follow this street until you reach Plattenstrasse, where you take a right turn. This is what the crossroads looks like:If you turn left into Plattenstrasse instead, you will find yourself on the alternative route via Gloriastrasse and Platte, see A6a. However, to get to the English Seminar, follow the yellow arrow in the picture above, until you see this on your left hand side:The building you see in the picture (to the right) is PLH, where you will probably spend a lot of your English studies. Walk up the stairs and go right, around to the front of the building, which looks like this:In you go. Right opposite this building you’ll find the ES library. See A8a.
A2a. Mensa (MEN)
You can reach the Mensa from within KOL, but if you’re outside, you can also enter it directly. At the corner of Doktor Faust Gasse, simply go down the stairs and around the right corner:
A6a. Platte (PLATTE)
Straight up Plattenstrasse you will find the tram station Platte, where you have a tram connection to Zürich HB, amongst others. Simply follow the street until it ends in Gloriastrasse. The tram station is to the right, while the alternative route to the main building is to the left.
A8a. ES Library (PET)
Across the yard in front of the English Seminar, you will find Pestalozzistrasse 50 (PET), where the ES Library and many instructors’ and professors’ offices are located. The ES Library is a great source for research in English linguistics and literature. If you cannot find a specific title in this library, try the Zentralbibliothek (see tour B). Here’s what the entrance to the ES Library looks like:
B. Zentralbibliothek (ZEN)
The Zentralbibliothek is a pretty incredible effort to provide as many resources as possible in one single place. All you need to do is find that place – here is how (click to enlarge):Starting at the main building again, we now follow the orange arrow and cross the street:Right on the other side, you walk down the stairs that lead to the Sempersteig. There is a Shuttle Bus stop right next to the top of those stairs (you can faintly see the blue sign in the upper right corner of the picture):Now you walk all the way down the stairs. Note that if you are at the bottom of the stairs, you can already see the University building, which can help you find your way if you’re coming from the opposite direction:At the bottom of the stairs, you cross the street. There you take another flight of stairs that leads down to the Seilergraben. If you followed this street northbound, you could get to Central fairly quickly, where you get tram connections to almost anywhere in the city. To get to the library, however, cross the street and keep walking straight until you reach Zäringerplatz. As a general point of reference, note the churchtower in the picture below. This tower is located right next to the library.When you reach Zäringerplatz (the tower should now be to your right), you turn right and move past the church. Now you have reached the Zentralbibliothek. The main entrance is located up the stairs. In the picture below, the blue arrow points to the alternative route around the other side of the building (I apologize for this inconsistency; use the POV indicator for B4 if the picture confuses you):There are other entrances to the Zentralbibliothek, but this is the one you probably want to use.
B4a Alternative to Sempersteig
There is a much more heavily frequented route to KOL, which looks similar to Sempersteig. Mostly, this one is preferred by those who would like to reach the main building from Zürich HB or Central, rather than the Zentralbibliothek. Chances are you have already discovered these stairs on your own (unless you’re a lazy tram-user). Taking these to get from ZEN to KOL would be a detour, but it is possible.If you follow the orange arrow, you will find a ramp down to Seilergraben and if you cross the street, you will find the back of the library to your left.
The pictures were taken using some cheap phone. If you are discontent with the quality, go here to review our policy on this issue.
The maps above are altered versions of the ones that the University of Zurich provides online. If you are looking for any University facilities in Zurich, I recommend their resources: http://www.plaene.uzh.ch/
And there you have it. Colored arrows, pictures, maps, I think even freshman me would be able to find the English Seminar and the Zentralbibliothek now. If this was helpful, let me know. If it wasn’t, let me know. If you think anyone would benefit from virtual tours to other places, let me know (and be specific about which ones). If you think I made a mistake somewhere, let me know. If you are wondering what’s in picture A2, well, it’s a secret. Good luck in the urban jungle.