Meilen is a town near Zürich, Switzerland. It is located on the north bank of the lake of Zürich and has a population of about 11,500 (2003). Meilen is located about halfway between Zürich and Rapperswil. Meilen is connected to Horgen across the lake by ferry. In the local dialect it is called Meile.
The town is divided into four districts (Wachten), namely Feldmeilen, Dorfmeilen and Obermeilen along the lake side, as well as Bergmeilen towards the local mount Pfannenstiel. The districts used to be more autonomous, but today the division is only used for schooling purposes.
Archaeological findings in Meilen date back more than 4000 years. In January 1854 the level of lake Zürich was particularly low and the locals took the chance to gain some land. During this undertaking prehistoric findings were unearthed providing clear evidence of early settlement.
The locals also unearthed coins from Roman times (1st to 3rd century AD). One of the Roman roads connected Turicum (Zürich) with places up to Chur and passed Meilen. Many findings were discovered during more recent road building.
Parts of Meilen were possessions of monasteries, including the monastery of St. Gallen, the ones of Einsiedeln and Säckingen, or the more local Grossmünster of Zürich. The name Meilena is first recorded in 880, but it is guessed that this goes back to a gallic name Mediolanum.
The coats of arms shows two castle towers which represent the castle of Friedberg, the local castle. The castle was built around 1200 but extended in the 14th century. Some remains are still visible, including the fountain which reaches down 29 metres. Winegrowing in Meilen dates back for centuries.
In 1384 Meilen became a bailiwick of Zürich. Thanks to the reeve Meilen enjoyed relative autonomy until 1798. Since the middle ages local trade and handicraft was established in Meilen. There were at least four mills to support the local agriculture. Towards the end of the 18th century, industrialisation arrived in Meilen in form of textiles, but this form of production disappeared in the 19th century. With the arrival of the railway in 1894 local trade and industry blossomed. The ferry to Horgen was opened in 1933.
The protestant church is located at the lake side and dominates the pictures of the town from the lake. The church's history dates back to a chapel of the 7th century. The current church was built in 1493.
The oldest tavern in Meilen is the Löwen (Lion). The tavern is still in use, but since 1958 owned by the municipality. The main hall is now used for political and cultural events.
The inn zur Burg located at Friedberg (or locally known as Burg) was built in 1676. It is an attractive building with many carved ornaments.
There are also a number of mansions, including the Seehof, Seehalde and Grüene Hof. The Seehof mansion was built in 1767-1769 and originally home to the successful textile producer Felix Oeri-Lavater. The mansion Seehalde was built when trade in wine was at its best: the 16th century. The Grüene Hof mansion is located in Feldmeilen. It was build between 1682 and 1684.
- Meilen (official page in German)