Zurich's origins date back as long ago as 15BC, when the Roman post of Turicum was founded as a customs station to oversee goods travelling to and from Italy. Despite the settlement being continuously inhabited, it wasn't until the 9th century that the first mention of the Teutonic town of Zurich appeared. By the 10th century, the town had acquired the status of a city, and went on to become the centre of the Swiss Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The motto 'pray and work' was to have a profound effect on the shaping of the city, which, by the 19th century, had grown into the commercial and financial centre of Switzerland.
Today, most of Zurich's sights lie within the compact area on either side of the River Limmat, between the Hauptbahnhof and Lake Zurich. The churches and burgher houses of the Old Town are clustered here, as are the elegant shops of Bahnhofstrasse. Also within strolling distance of the river are the city's most impressive churches - the Grossmünster and Fraumünster - as well as the city's oldest, St Peterskirche, which still boasts the largest clock face in Europe. The city also has the full gamut of museums, from art galleries and design forums to archaeology collections and ethnographic museums.