I recently traveled to Zürich to visit with my aunt Anita traveling from Margaree via Malta for meetings. I had only visited Switzerland to catch a late night flight in Basel (and enjoyed Avatar in 3D with 3 sub-title languages!), so I was looking forward to exploring its largest city. We spent the weekend walking all over the city, enjoying the views of Lake Zürich, the Old Town and its many, many water fountains.
Zürich loves its water. The city is home to 1,248 public water fountains. You can’t walk a couple blocks in the Old Town without coming across an imaginatively sculpted waterspout. Though the fountains become simpler in form further from the city centre, they are just as handy.
The first water fountain was built during the early 15th century to supply trusted water after the Black Death created a (well-founded) mistrust of city wells. The water was brought to the city centre, the top of Rennweg, from a source four kilometres away by wooden pipe. An engineering feat of the time, and the first of many public plumbing projects to come.*
It is refreshing to see the importance and elegance of publicly available drinking water. We live in a generation that remembers thinking that buying water from a store seemed ridiculous to now seeing bottled water as an important part of our convenience diet. Plastic bottles are still popular in Zürich, but many residents choose to bring their own refillable ones instead. The water is said to be deliciously fresh and a treat to enjoy. I can attest that it did indeed taste like water.