It’s not often visitors to Zurich get excited about a Car Park – but you never know what this city is going to turn up. A couple of years ago the land in front of the Zurich Opera House was dug up to prepare it (down several layers) for a Car Park to service the city.
Ah Switzerland, land of glorious scenery, of alps, lakes, elegant cities. So why am I writing about a Car Park? Cos it’s a cool car park.
Going down a few layers revealed the well-preserved, substantial remains of a ‘stilt’ village: stilts, rudimentary tools, domestic implements, fishing nets and shamanistic tokens.
The archaeological discoveries made under the so-called ‘place of the Sechseläuten (festival)’ in Zurich were so numerous that assessment work lasted five years.
This find confirmed how the early/first people of this region lived. Villages were perched around Zurichsee (Lake Zurich), with the houses and community dwellings sitting over the edge of the water. Popular theory is that they lived over the water, up high because of marauding wild animals and there would always be food to be caught on the lake.
(Top image is of the reconstruction of the Neolithic lake dwelling site.)
The remnants of life on the lake were sowell preserved because they had been immersed and lacked in mud/silt therefore not disturbed nor destroyed.
The remarkable age discerned and documented puts the life and times of the village at 4300 years BC! So more than 6000 years to date.
The Car Park went ahead – very carefully and in a thoughtful and intelligent manner. There are display cases with some of the finds, a film of divers and what they found at the edge of the lake and the finest damn Car Park in town.
The vast square on top of the Car Park spreads out before the Opera House. The surface is covered in oblong squares of Switzerland’s finest granite. Lots of grumbling from the locals at the exorbitant cost but there’s every chance it will last as long as the stilt houses!
There are a few randomly placed chairs which are happily filled with people, their faces tilted to the ever welcome sun.