Do you fancy a city adorned with flowers; especially one embellished with the queen of flowers, enchanting roses? Rapperswil-Jona, a charming little town settled comfortably on the shores of Lake Zurich is one of a kind. It is a city that tenderly touches your soul with its flowery charm. Officially called the City of Roses, Rapperswil-Jona attracts visitors of the Lake Zurich area with its elusive fragrance sprinkled along the beautiful lakeside promenade and all over the town.
My first virtual date with this city was filled with romance. A tender glitter arose in my heart, eliciting an overwhelming desire to see this marvel in real life.
Last summer, I was on a train traveling from Zurich to Rapperswil-Jona filled with gentle excitement as I anticipated a date with the City of Roses in real life.
The City of Roses has plenty of relaxing-touring opportunities: from the picturesque medieval town to a fascinating natural setting filled with roses all around. There are four rose gardens in Rapperswil-Jona, one of which is designed especially for the blind. Nevertheless, the largest one is the most enticing one.
As soon as I entered the mystical rose garden overlooking the Lake Zurich, I felt as if I uncovered what lay beneath the soul of the one who created this garden. It seemed that he who planted the infinite number of aromatic roses had someone special in his heart; someone who would endlessly breathe with romance… I felt as if I found a soul mate… Not exactly my soul mate or my special other, but rather someone who would feel the world the same way I do.
On a beautiful summer day, in the wake of the fragrance of love, I reached the Capuchin Monastery nestled on the other side of the Lake Zurich. The scent of tender roses was still there whispering in my ears: “This is a place I want to feel in love”… “This is a place I want to be alive”.
On the other side of the rose garden, I encountered a deer park. It is easy to view the park standing on the hill above the rose garden. Just climb upstairs and you will see two sceneries: one overlooking the relaxing Lake Zurich and the other one pointing out at the Deer Park. Situated on Lindenhof, the Deer Park has been there since 1871 and is home to around fifteen gentle looking deer.
Continuing my trip, I made my way towards the charming medieval town which was exuding a special type of calmness. At first, I was surprised that I was standing in the very heart of the city, more precisely, just in front of the Municipality (Rathaus). It all felt so tranquil and relaxed that it made me doubt whether I was indeed in the very center of the town. What I loved about the Rathaus was the simplicity of the building, even though it was the most important building of the town.
From there on, I climbed the decorated stairs leading to a church on the top. The decoration of the stairs was pointing out an event that was taking place upstairs. As soon as I got up, I realized there was a sort of graduation ceremony or a scientific conference going on at the venue nearby. The view that was visible from the top of the stairs in some way reminded me of the fairy story “Carlson on the Roof”. I felt as if I was Carlson’s childhood friend living on the roof.
As I found out later, the church-castle overlooking the lake was Rapperswil Castle which is home to a Polish Museum. The castle is a significant historical site and was constructed in the 12th century by the nobles of Rapperswil city. I have to say though the castle looked more attractive from this side of the town. There are two ways to get to the castle: one is through climbing up the stairs in front of the Municipality; the other way is approaching the castle from the previously-mentioned Deer park overlooking the lake. And again, the route taking to the entrance of the castle was adorned with roses.
Taking a stroll back: before reaching the very heart of the city, I came across the StadtMuseum Rapperswil-Jona: the exterior of the museum attracted my attention with its original architecture- a sort of a mix of antique and modern architecture:
A few steps further away from the museum I spotted a home-like café, Ricardos, with a modest design, and realized that I was simply starving. A sense of hunger urged me to enter and enjoy a cup of coffee and delicious apple cake. While walking along the alleys of the town, I noted signs of roses in nearly every corner. For example, this charming little fountain was adorned by tenderly-pinkish roses as well:
As a final touch on my one-day trip to Rapperswil-Jona, I visited the Rose garden for the visually impaired. It is the first rose garden for the blind in Switzerland that contains 1522 plants from 75 fragrant varieties, which are all labeled with embossed letters (Braille) and normal lettering. The rose garden is also a place where famous people have left their traces: for example, I noted a tableau with the name of Charles de Gaul, which made me think he planted a rose in this special garden for the visually impaired (however, this information is not verified; just a personal opinion).
Out of the roses theme:
- There is a long Wooden bridge connecting Rapperswil-Jona with Hurden. This bridge is one of the landmarks of the town. If you feel like walking a bit, this bridge is right for you.
- The major square in the town is called Fischmarktplatz, meaning a square of the fish market. There is no way to dismiss this square, as you go out of the only train station you will find yourself standing in this very square; just opposite the Tourist Information Centre where you may get a free advice and a map of Rapperswil-Jona. The square is very open-hearted as if it embraces you in its arms just from the very first moments you enter the town.
If you would like to know more about the City of Roses, browse Rapperswil-Jona, instead of just Rapperswil which is another Swiss municipality in the Canton of Bern.
There is a possibility to take a more picturesque route to the City of Roses: getting on a cruise ship from Zurich will delight your senses with marvelous views of the Lake Zurich.
When in Rapperswil-Jona, I felt that this city had a kind of Italian Riviera charm despite the fact that it is located in the German part of Switzerland. The reason I had this feeling: there are plenty of cafés, restaurants and other sites named in Italian with real Italian staff working: for instance “Dieci” restaurant located on the Fischmarktplatz, to name only one of the many. All in all, in line with Italian charm, there is certainly the Swiss hospitality sprinkled all over the town. What I further noted was that people on this side of the Lake Zurich were more kind-hearted as compared to the other one, including in the megapolis Zurich. Perhaps I am slightly mistaken, but that was my personal impression. It seemed to me that Zurich and Rapperswil-Jona were in two completely different planets: one breathing with logic, the other one with senses. But one thing they have in common is surely the well-known Swiss organized routine, carefully planned every single aspect of life.
Over and over again, I found myself thinking that the leading character of Rapperswil-Jona was the queen Rose.