Zunft zum Kämbel

Zunft zum Kämbel (literally "Kämbel guild") is a Zunft (guild) organisation in Zürich, Switzerland. The guild was established in 1336; their guild house, the Haus zur Haue building, is situated at the Limmatquai.

Coats of arms of Zunft zum Kämbel
Kämbel carriage on occasion of Sechseläuten 2013 at their guild house at Limmatquai

Guild houseEdit

The present Kämbel guild house, the Haus zur Haue building, is situated at the Limmatquai respectively Rathaus nearby the Constaffel, Saffran and Zimmerleuten guild houses. Zunft zum Kämbel was originally a guild of food dealers and wine merchants. Its first Trinkstube (tavern and association meeting place) was located near the medieval town hall at Münsterhof. Their guild house was first mentioned in a 1389 document as Kembel.[1] In 1487 the guild acquired the House zum Kämbel which is still located at the Münsterhof 18. The siting at the Münsterhof plaza is seen as a deliberate distancing from the noble guild houses of the more prominent guilds in Zürich.[2]


The origins of the Kämbel guild date back to 1336, when it, along with the other medieval Zürich guilds and the knight's association (Constaffel), was founded on occasion of the Brun guild constitution. The guilds were associations of various craft associations, at the same time they were economical, political, social and even military organizations that participated the wars of the medieval city republic in independent military formations. The guild masters constituted also the councillors of the elitary council of the medieval city republic of Zürich, until the French revolutionary troops terminated the guild regime, and the so-called Old Swiss Confederacy collapsed in spring 1798. In 1801 the Kämbel members sold their guildhall, but by the Act of Mediation in 1803 and 1815, the guild temporarily was re-established as one of the thirteen constituencies as municipal election guilds. In the 1838 election guilds were abolished at the cantonal level, and definitely by the municipal elections of 1866.[3]

The members of Kämbel originally comprised the small traders and merchants of the medieval city of Zürich, among them the gardeners (vegetable traders), lubricators and food merchants, all commonly called Grempler from which the name of the guild is derived. In later years, the vine transporters (Wynzügel) and salt traders (Houw) also became members of the guild. In addition to the aforementioned duties, the guild's deans as representatives of the city council, had to supervise the sale of goods produced by the Kämbel members, and the deans also had to define rules and conditions, and they oversaw the food stands under the arches (German: Unter den Bögen) on Limmatquai and at Weinplatz (and Gmüesbrugg, Swiss German for Vegetable bridge),[4] passing among others the Constaffel, Saffran and Zimmerleuten guild houses.

Hans Waldmann monument on occasion of the Sechseläuten ceremony 2015

The most important guild master (dean) of Kämbel was Hans Waldmann (1435–1489), mayor of Zürich from 1482 to 1489, who was executed during the so-called Waldmannhandel. The equestrian monument in front of the Fraumünster church at the Münsterhof plaza respectively at the Münsterbrücke was created by Hermann Haller. The monument was unveiled on 6 April 1937 by the Kämbel guild, aiming to rehabilitate Hans Waldmann who they proposed had been the victim of a judicial murder.[5] The equestrian statue became the subject of controversy for artistic, political and historical reasons.


The "Arabian"-costumed members of the guild at the Bürkliplatz plaza in 2015

Like the other Zürich guilds, except the women members of the Fraumünster society which participate just as "guests",[6] the members of the Kämbel guild participate in Sechseläuten. The Kämbel horse riders orbit the Böögg at Sechseläutenplatz as wild and disorderly crowd in Arabian-style costumes as a reference to their coat of arms which shows a camel — the German term Kamel sounds like Kämbel.


The association organizes monthly meetings, publishes a New Year's sheet, and its members are involved in numerous cultural projects.


  • Markus Brühlmeier, Beat Frei: Das Zürcher Zunftwesen. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zürich 2005, ISBN 3-038231-71-1.
  • Vom Dübelstein zur Waldmannsburg: Adelssitz, Gedächtnisort und Forschungsobjekt. In: Schweizer Beiträge zur Kulturgeschichte und Archäologie des Mittelalters Volume 33. Published by Schweizerischer Burgenverein, Basel 2006, ISBN 3-908182-17-4.


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