A makeshift memorial quickly appeared outside Tina Turner's home in Kusnacht, Switzerland
A makeshift memorial quickly appeared outside Tina Turner's home in Kusnacht, Switzerland AFP

Shortly after news of Tina Turner's death on Wednesday, candles and flowers began piling up outside the estate in Switzerland the rock legend had called home for decades.

A large crowd began gathering outside the cast-iron gate, shrouded in darkness, with fans walking up one by one to lay flowers or set out candles, some flickering through red-tinted glass jars.

"You're simply the best," read one of the dozens of messages nestled among the bouquets.

"I am shocked," Miran Znider, a 48-year-old Slovenian who lives nearby, told AFP, fighting back tears. "I didn't expect it to happen so early."

Asked why he had come, Znider said: "Because it's the queen, the queen of all women. I love Tina."

He was among many who flocked to the Algonquin chateau in Kusnacht, on Lake Zurich's exclusive Goldkueste (Golden Coast), where the 83-year-old queen of rock had lived for nearly three decades.

As people clustered together outside its tall gate, flanked by two large, illuminated columns and emblazoned with "Algonquin" in gold letters, Turner's music sounded from one of the cars parked nearby.

"Today is a very sad day," Ozgur Arzik, 48, told AFP.

"I actually grew up with the sons of Tina Turner, and I'm living close by here. I was always listening to her songs and I'm really sad that we lost her," he said. "I just wanted to be here."

The American star gave up her US citizenship 10 years ago to become Swiss.

"With Tina Turner's death, the world has lost an icon," Switzerland's President Alain Berset tweeted.

"My thoughts are with the family of this impressive woman who found a second home in Switzerland."

The municipality of Kusnacht issued a statement saying that "Tina Turner inspired people all over the world with her unique voice and touched many Kusnacht residents with her warmth and modesty".

"She was a proud citizen of Kusnacht," it added, hailing her close connection with the community, saying she had sponsored a rescue boat named "Tina" and donated Christmas lights.

Turner moved to the wealthy Alpine nation in 1995 with her longtime German partner Erwin Bach, 67.

In 2013, three months after marrying Bach and receiving her Swiss passport, Turner relinquished her US citizenship.

The couple had long rented their chateau because of restrictions on foreigners owning property.

In 2021, the couple reportedly put down $76 million for a 10-building waterfront estate in the municipality of Staefa, on the northern shores of Lake Zurich.

At the time, Bach told the Handelszeitung daily that the 240,000-square-foot estate (22,300 square metres), featuring a pool and private lakefront space, would serve as a "new weekend retreat".

Turner has been hailed by Swiss media a model Swiss citizen, noting that she had to learn German and also pass a local civics test and an interview to obtain her citizenship.

And once she had her passport in hand, she went to polling stations for the frequent popular votes held in the country, known for its direct democratic system.

In 2021, Bern university awarded her an honorary doctorate for her "unique musical and artistic life's work".