Winterthur has the country's sixth-largest population, estimated at 111,000 people, and is located in the canton of Zurich, 25 km away from the Confederation’s largest city. The official language of Winterthur is German. Long dominated by the flamboyant machinery industry and the Winterthur insurance company, i.e. two sectors that employed thousands of people, the city “recycled” its plants and turned to culture. Among the giant companies that lent their reputation to Winterthur was the Sulzer group, which is currently present in several countries, following a successful transformation. Unlike Zurich, the city does not have a lake, but is known for a magnificent medieval centre and the largest pedestrian-only zone in Switzerland. It is here, in the old town, that residents and tourists meet to shop, enjoy leisure time in bars and restaurants or admire the architecture of the mansions surrounding the Marktgasse, the Fischermädchen Brunnen fountain and the Town Hall Passage. Yet another must-see of the city is the medieval Kyburg castle, erected on a rocky spur beyond the Töss, one of the oldest and most important rivers of the region.
When compared to Zurich, Winterthur is often described as a city with provincial charm, most likely because life here is slower and property prices are somewhat lower than in Zurich, which is only a 20-minute train ride away. This charming place in the Zurich canton houses a large number of parks and green areas and is surrounded by a calm countryside, lined with forests and vineyards. Winterthur is an example of a successful transformation of an industrial area into cultural spaces. The local libraries, higher education institutions and museums are located in former industrial plants. The city has 17 museums, including the one that houses Oskar Reinhart's famous collections. The Museum of Photography in Winterthur attracts photographers, while technology lovers will find something for themselves at the Technorama Science Centre.