In 1847 the first rail connection opened in Switzerland, running from Baden to Zurich. And in 1871 a new main station opened in Zurich. It still stands, like a Prussian neo-renaissance palace, astride the prestigious (and world's most expensive) main street, the Bahnhofstrasse.
But let us step inside the Hauptbahnhof, and discover the treasure that hangs from its ceiling, protecting the travellers.
In 1997, in order to commerorate 150 years of Swiss railroads, one of the world's leading artists was commissioned to produce one of her easily recognisable gigantic and powerful women. Over 11 metres long, and weighing 1.2 tons, it was made in the USA, shipped to Rotterdam in three pieces, brought by boat up the Rhine to Basel, then transported by low roader to Zurich and reassembled. And here it hangs, Niki de Saint Phalle's Guardian Angel.
It is, of course, wild and daring in its madness. She sweeps above the tiny, busy commuters, heavy but wonderfully nimble, a gloriously overdressed female Sumo wrestler (which might explain de Saint Phalle's incredible popularity in Japan.)
I was first introduced to the work of Niki de Saint Phalle by a girlfriend during a trip to Paris in 1985. We sat in a cafe near the Pompidou Centre, at the Place Igor Stravinsky, listening to the rain and laughing at de Saint Phalle's wonderfully cheery fountain. I fell in love and married the girl.
Today de Saint Phalle's angel of the station still casts her protection over us.