By Marissa Hoffmann

One of the joys of studying and teaching at ISZL is Zug’s beautiful old town. Students enjoy opportunities in the curriculum to appreciate the local landmarks and history. Early Years Teacher Sarah Osborne uses the ‘How the World Works’ unit to inquire into local architecture and in particular the 13th-century clocktower ‘Der Zytturm’ located in Kolinplatz.

Zug residents are very proud of the Zytturm with its blue and white hipped roof and once you have visited you will surely feel the same. Over the centuries the tower, which rests over the city’s original gates, has fulfilled several functions. It has provided secure access to the city which used to be locked at night. It has also served as a prison and as a watchtower to detect fires.

Since 1480 it has been possible to tell the time ‘Zyt’ however the large clock we see today was installed in 1574. For the Early Years children, the two clock dials have so much to study. The clock faces, on the east side of the tower, do not simply tell the time. The astronomical clock has four hands; on the inner circle, the arrow shape marks the day in the week, beginning with Sunday at the top. Each of the days is named after the seven painted deities therein. A moon shaped hand shows us the phase of the lunar cycle and in the middle circle, a sun-shaped hand shows the months represented by the zodiac signs. The letter S points downwards when it is a leap year. Below the tower room a sphere represents a full moon as golden, and a new moon as black.

ISZL children enjoy spending time sketching the outside of the 52-metre high tower and predicting what the inside will be like. They learn the legend of the rat painted on the tower that scared away the real rats that once plagued the watchmen. The children climb the ninety-nine steps to the viewing room at the top. There they can see Mount Rigi, Zug lake, the turrets and walls of the old town as well as the modern city alongside all the historical and natural beauty.

The Zytturm offers so much as a learning experience and Sarah Osborne reports that by the end of the unit the children are confident in planning and building stable structures with blocks and have developed their observational and sketching skills. Connecting with the local environment in this way provides ISZL students with rich and meaningful opportunities for authentic inquiry. Take a trip there yourself and impress your Swiss friends with your local knowledge.

An Early Years class inquires into local architecture and in particular the 13th-century clocktower ‘Der Zytturm’ located in Kolinplatz.

Visiting ‘der Zytturm’

  • Location: Kolinplatz 10, 6300 Zug
  • Opening Times: Monday to Friday 7:30 - 18:30, Saturday and Sunday 9:00 - 17:00
  • Admission: Free. Collect key at the souvenir shop. Outside the shop opening hours, the key is at the Restaurant Intermezzo (Grabenstrasse 6). On Mondays, the key collection is from Zug Library (Sankt-Oswalds-Gasse 21).
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