Zug, 19.03.2024

Renovation work to be carried out on the Zytturm in Zug

The ravages of time are gnawing at the Zytturm in Zug: the city council is now planning to renovate the portal at a cost of half a million Swiss francs

The well-known Zug landmark underwent a complete renovation for the last time as part of the 600th anniversary of Zug's accession to the Confederation, in the early 1950s. The next renovation is now scheduled to begin in the summer.

The Zytturm (clock tower) in the centre of the city of Zug is one of the buildings that is classified in the highest monument protection category. That means: tearing it down is forbidden. The 40-metre-high building is the perfect advertisement for the marketing of the city of Zug in the wider world - for example, for the Zuger Kirschtorte (cherry cake).

But this symbol, of which all Zug residents are proud, also needs to be maintained regularly. The Zug City Council (Zuger Stadtrat) will have this most important contemporary symbol of Zug renovated in the summer of 2024, for a cost of around CHF 380,000. This has emerged from a city council resolution that has recently become publicly available online.

Renovation is a ‘hardback edition’
The renovation of the facade of the Zytturm is a ‘hardback edition’, as the Zug city council writes in its renovation resolution. Expenditures that serve to preserve value and provide up-to-date maintenance are thereby generally considered to be firmly assigned. Two years ago, various major projects led to a number of political upheavals between the Large Municipal Council of the City of Zug (GGZ: Grossen Gemeinderat der Stadt Zug) and the city council. These involved much higher contributions for school building construction.

The money that will be used to maintain the Zytturm is likely to be unopposed, however. Indeed, it is also a the point of regret to many people that some of the town gates of the Zug municipal area did not survive the expansion of the urban area in the 19th century. The Baar Gate (Baarertor) and the Oberwil Gate (Oberwilertor) are worth remembering here.

The latter gate at least lives on in a very prominent place on the Zytturm. We are hereby referring to the coats of arms above the outer archway, which was given its current location during a comprehensive renovation in 1901.

The outer portal of the Zytturm. The tower from the 13th century is Zug's landmark.The Zytturm is the landmark of the city of Zug and provides access to the old town.
An angel with two Zug coats of arms can be seen above the inner gate of the Zytturm. The angel comes from St. Oswald's Church    
An angel with two Zug coats of arms can be seen above the inner gate of the Zytturm. The angel comes from St. Oswald's Church.  
  Photos: Stefan Kaiser

In the summer of 1953, the “Zuger Volksblatt” newspaper stated, in a report about the renovation at the time: “The coat of arms relief from the old Oberwilertor has been mounted above the outer archway for 50 years: two lions as shield holders of the imperial coat of arms and the two Zug shields.”

Memorabilia of a bygone era
Elements that were originally located elsewhere are also visible above the inner archway. The relief with an angel above two Zug coats of arms is on loan. The sculptures - i.e. the angels - were originally used in the choir arch of St. Oswald's Church. It’s a kind of recycling of art.

As can be seen from the city council resolution, the renovation should take place gently. The shape of the tower will remain as before. As justification for why renovation is currently taking place, the city council writes: "In view of the fact that the costs of repairing damage to historical buildings are increasing exponentially, the current time for cleaning, renovation and inspection of the tower is well chosen."

As is the case with many buildings from the Middle Ages, the start of the construction of the Zytturm cannot be linked to a specific year. Specialist articles mention the 13th century as the time when it was created. The Zytturm had the function of a watchtower, and the city rebuilt and increased the height of the tower between 1478 and 1480.

The Zytturm has had its current appearance since 1557. During that extension work, the building owners increased the tower to a height of 40 metres, and the roof received the blue and white tiles at the same time. According to the “Volksblatt” article, 5,450 tiles were necessary to achieve the special effect.