Zug: the City of Cherries

Zug: the City of Cherries
Jun 28, 2024

Zug, a picturesque town located south of Zurich, is famous not only for its charming old town and the eponymous lake but also for its delightful cherries, locally known as "Chriesi". 

History of Cherry Cultivation in Zug 

The history of cherry cultivation in Zug traces back to the canton's rich traditions. Since the 18th century, the fertile plains of Zug, particularly the area known as Allmend, were dotted with countless cherry trees. Originally cultivated as a common orchard accessible to all citizens, this area soon became renowned for the quality and abundance of its cherry harvests. 

The Tradition of Chriesisturm 

The tradition of Chriesisturm is deeply rooted in the history and culture of the canton of Zug, representing an annual ritual that celebrates the opening of the cherry season and recalls centuries of local history. 

Historical Origins 

Chriesisturm dates back to the 18th century when the Allmend area in Zug was a vast common cherry orchard accessible to all citizens. The cherry season was officially inaugurated by the sound of the church bell "Chriesigloggä" from St. Michael's Church at noon. This signal indicated that the fruits were ripe and ready to be harvested, initiating a frenzied race among growers to pick the best cherries. 

Cherry Picking Race 

Armed with long wooden ladders, which could reach over 8 meters in length, and characteristic "Chriesihutten" (baskets), participants headed to the Allmend. The first to place the ladder against the tree had the privilege of picking the finest and sweetest cherries. It was strictly prohibited to pick cherries before the bell rang, and offenders could face severe penalties. 

Decline and Revival 

With urbanization and changes in agricultural dynamics in the 20th century, cherry plantations underwent a drastic reduction, and the tradition of Chriesisturm risked disappearing. However, in 2009, thanks to the efforts of the Interestengemeinschaft zur Förderung der Zuger Kirsche, the tradition was revived. Today, Chriesisturm is not only a festive event that attracts thousands of visitors each year but has also been recognized as a living tradition of Switzerland under the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

Current Celebrations

Every year, in June, Zug comes alive with Chriesisturm, which includes not only the traditional race through the old town but also Chriesimärt, Switzerland's oldest market dedicated to cherries. Here, visitors can discover a variety of cherries and taste local specialties such as the famous Zuger Kirschtorte, Zug's cherry liqueur cake. Chriesisturm is not just an occasion to celebrate Zug's cherry culture and history but also a link between past and present. 

Chriesimärt: The Cherry Market 

Chriesimärt is a highly significant annual event in the canton of Zug, celebrated for over two centuries as Switzerland's oldest cherry market. This fascinating market is not only an opportunity to buy and enjoy Zug's renowned cherries but also a lively celebration of local culture and traditions associated with this precious fruit. 

History and Tradition

Chriesimärt has its roots in the 18th century when it was first organized in Zug's old town. The market was an important meeting point for local growers and residents, where they could not only sell their cherries but also exchange experiences and innovations regarding the cultivation and use of this beloved fruit. 

Offerings and Variety 

Today, Chriesimärt is not just a cherry showcase but offers a wide range of varieties, some of which are rare and hard to find elsewhere. Zug's cherries are renowned for their sweetness and quality, thanks to the favorable climate and traditional agricultural techniques that enhance their flavor and texture. 

Events and Attractions 

During Chriesimärt, Landsgemeindeplatz in Zug transforms into a festival venue, with colorful stalls offering not only fresh cherries but also cherry-derived products such as jams, juices, Kirsch liqueurs, and traditional sweets like Zuger Kirschtorte. Local artisans display their creations, which often include jewelry, crafts, and cherry-inspired souvenirs. 

Cultural Significance 

In addition to its economic importance as an agricultural market, Chriesimärt represents a moment of connection between generations and an opportunity to preserve and transmit traditions related to cherry cultivation in Zug. Its longevity and continuous support from the local community testify to the deep bond between the city and its symbolic fruit. 

Specialties Based on Zug Cherries 

Specialties based on Zug cherries represent a rich culinary heritage that reflects the region's long agricultural and gastronomic history. These dishes are not only delicious but also pay homage to the quality and versatility of "Chriesi," as cherries are locally known. Here are some of the most famous specialties: 

Zuger Kirschtorte 

Zuger Kirschtorte is perhaps Zug's most renowned specialty. This cake, originally created in the 19th century by pastry chef Heinrich Höhn, consists of layers of chocolate sponge cake filled with Kirsch-flavored buttercream. The cake is decorated with dark chocolate and syrupy cherries, creating a perfect balance of sweetness and Kirsch intensity. 

Türkenbund von Kirschen 

This is another traditional delicacy of Zug, similar to the French clafoutis, made with cherries, eggs, butter, and semolina. Türkenbund von Kirschen is a rich and creamy dessert that enhances the sweet and juicy flavor of cherries, perfect to enjoy after a meal or as a snack. 

Kirsch Beverages 

Kirsch, a cherry distillate, is an important component of Zug's traditional beverages. Used to flavor cocktails like the famous Kir Royal (Kirsch and champagne) or simply served as a digestif, Zug's Kirsch is renowned for its intense aroma and fruity taste. 

Jams and Preserves 

Cherry jams and preserves are typical products that enhance the taste of Zug cherries. Prepared with fresh fruit and sugar, these products are ideal for breakfast or to accompany local cheeses like Grässli. 

These specialties not only reflect Zug's culinary richness but also serve as a way to preserve and promote local agricultural traditions. Each dish and drink pays tribute to Zug's "Chriesi," celebrating their sweetness and versatility with every bite and sip. 

Ariv, the Perfect Place to Stay to Visit Zug 

Zug, the city of cherries, is not just a place of natural and historical beauty but also a crossroads of agricultural and cultural traditions. From its picturesque old town to the majestic lake, Zug enchants visitors with its rich history and strong identity rooted in the land and its fruits. 

Ariv today represents the perfect place to stay and explore Zug, the renowned city of cherries. Ariv offers modern and comfortable apartments ideal for solo travelers, couples, and families. In addition to well-designed living spaces, Ariv provides amenities such as a fitness center, coworking spaces, and relaxation lounges. 

Ariv's strategic location facilitates exploration of Zug, especially during events like Chriesisturm and Chriesimärt. 

In conclusion, Zug and its cherries are a vivid example of how culture, history, and agriculture intertwine in a vibrant social and gastronomic fabric. Visiting Zug during cherry season is not just a culinary experience but also a journey through Swiss agricultural traditions that continue to thrive and be celebrated today.

Plan your stay at Ariv now for an unforgettable experience immersed in Zug's culture and natural beauty.