Switzerland, Suisse, Schweiz, Suiza, Zwitserland, Svizzera
What do you think of when you think of
Switzerland? Is it the dramatic landscapes and quaint country settings?
Or is it the unique French, German and Italian cultural influences?
Maybe it's the historic castles and heritage?
Whatever it is, Switzerland has something special for you. Whether your
idea of the perfect vacation is hiking in a world of breathtaking
vistas or pampering yourself in the lap of luxury.
Fantastic routes, breathtaking vistas: experiences that await the
traveler on the Glacier-Express from St. Moritz to Zermatt, across 291
bridges and through 91 tunnels, and on the William Tell-Express from
Lucerne to Lugano/Locarno, first by ship and then by train. Also
unforgettable: The Bernina, the Palm and the Golden Pass Express.
The glow of the Alps at sunset
The world of the Swiss Alps is a world of wild beauty. Mountain peaks
soar more than 4,000 meters into the sky. Awe-inspiring glaciers and
gigantic rock-formations abound. Frothy streams rush down mountains,
without premonition of the oceans into which they flow. Waterfalls
thunder into valleys. The reflection of windswept pines and larch trees
shimmer on the blue surface of mountain lakes. The vivid colors of
mountain flowers dot Alpine meadows. Sun-blackened chalets beckon by
the roadside and invite you to rest awhile. Cogwheel trains and airy
gondolas effortlessly reach the top of the highest peaks. Come on
board, wander back on foot on the mountain trails!
The delights of the Alpine lakes
Crystal-clear water glitters in the sunlight, pristine beaches entice
you to go for a swim. Sailboats leave a trail in their wake on the
water. Steam boats travel from shore to shore. Chalets and inns with
shady gardens invite you to stay. Wherever you go, the next lake is
waiting around the corner!
South of the Alps Mediterranean style awaits you: Italian Dolce Vita,
outdoor cafes on lively plazas, laughter, conversation, happiness.
Clean beaches with palm trees. Promenades for leisurely walks.
Romanesque churches. Houses with stone-dotted roofs in pristine
side-valleys. The most modern architecture wherever you go.
Gently rolling hills and vast valleys
Forests, hills, rivers, fertile soil and grazing cows, vibrant cities
full of hustle and bustle: this is the heart of Switzerland, between
the Alps and the crescent of the Jura mountains. Huge farmhouses,
adorned with window boxes full of colorful flowers, define this region
just as much as the large urban centers of Zurich, Bern and Basel with
their rich cultural offerings and modern industry. Medieval arcades
preside over stores and boutiques aligned like pearls on a string and
over the pulsating life of the cities. Modern architecture can be found
next to original Old Town quarters: Botta and Le Corbusier are to be
seen not far from Roman ruins, Mediaeval castles and Baroque
cathedrals. Everything is close by and easily reached.
Vineyards stretch in a wide arc downhill toward Lake Geneva. The shores
of Lake Geneva are dotted with romantic villages, castles with mighty
ramparts and elegant cities with an urbane culture. A whiff of Paris, a
dash of France is in the air. Here alpine panorama and southern
vegetation unite in unique harmony. And the pristine mountain world of
the Waadtland Alps, or the quiet peaks of the Jura are just a short
Switzerland was founded more than 700 years ago. Long years of peace have left their mark on our heritage, history and culture.
A look at the past
We owe the fact that Switzerland is in Switzerland to Caesar - in 58 BC
he prevented the Helvetians from emigrating to France and founded a
flourishing Helvetia (Augst, Avenches are, amongst others, evidence of
this to the present day). The people remained in the Alps. The real
history of Switzerland began in the 13th century, with the first
alliances from the villages around Lake Lucerne (William Tell,
Rütlischwur) - victorious battles against the Habsburgs, new alliances,
and battles within Switzerland - Reformation (Calvin and Zwingli) and
Conquest by Napoleon in 1798 put an end to the Old Confederation-. The
new era began - in 1848 the political arguments about the type of state
lead to a pioneering, revolutionary constitution for Europe - a
democratic Federal state with 26 sovereign cantons, democratically
elected authorities, a two chamber system, a direct political say and
equality of the four languages of the country and cultures.
The Swiss are a friendly and hospitable people, though somewhat
reserved at times. Life in our towns and cities is secure. We share an
independent spirit, a respect for tradition and no fewer than four
languages and dozens of dialects. The Swiss love for partying isn't yet
widely known. But the seasons are marked by traditional festivals and
Music and Museums
Every major Swiss city honours its own symphony, opera or theatre,
where acclaimed international artists appear. Smaller towns and
villages prize their chamber groups or quartets. The Bern, Willisau and
Montreux Jazz Festivals rival in recognition with the classical music
events of Lucerne and Gstaad, to name just a few.
About 700 museums round out a rich cultural life. You'll find
outstanding, internationally acclaimed art collections and specialized
museums for every interest. Today scores of medieval castles and
venerable mansions are open for a look around. Some house superb
museums, other wonderful restaurants. Churches, monasteries and abbey
libraries hold precious legacies of the ages.
Festivals and Traditions
Some examples of Swiss celebrations:First of August, the Swiss
Independence day. Zurich's spring festival, the Sechseläuten. Carnival
is celebrated all over Switzerland. Hornussen, a unique sport. Onion
market in Berne. Harmless Cow fights in the Valais. Locarno's piazza is
a splendid open air cinema during its International Film Festival.
Switzerland borders France in the West, Germany in the north, Austria
and the principality of Liechtenstein in the east and Italy in the
3 main types of landscape - the Swiss Alps, the hilly Swiss Mittelland,
which extends from Lake Constance to Lake Geneva, and the Swiss Jura, a
long line of rugged fold mountains.
Dufourspitze (Valais): 4,634 m / 15,203 ft
Dom (Valais): 4,545 m / 14,911 ft
Weisshorn (Valais): 4,506 m / 14,793 ft
Matterhorn (Valais): 4,478 m / 14,691 ft
Largest Glacier (Surface)
Aletsch (Valais): 117 sq km / 73 sq ml.
Length 24 km / 15 mi.
Glaciers in total 140
Lake Geneva: 582 sq km / 223 sq mi.
Lake Constance: 539 sq km / 208 sq mi.
Lake Neuchâtel: 218 sq km / 83 sq mi.
Lake Maggiore: 212 sq km / 82 sq mi.
Lake Lucerne: 114 sq km / 44 sq mi.
Lake Zurich: 88 sq km / 35 sq mi.
Lakes in total 1,484
Juf (Graubunden): 2,126 m / 7,000 ft
Ascona (Ticino): 196 m / 690 ft
172 per sq. km
Parliamntary Federal State since 1848, Direct democracy
German (64%), French (20%), Italian (7%), Romansch (1%), others (8%)
Catholic (42%), Protestant (35%), others (23%)
The diversity of the landlocked, mountainous country is the essence of
Switzerland and gives the country its unique identity. Still, it is
best known for its financial institutions, fine cheeses and chocolate,
watch making industry, for its scenery and an excellent network of
|North of Switzerland|
is top for leisure and pleasure. Gentle hills, peaceful woods, the
unpolluted lakes and rivers, picturesque villages - and all just a
stone's throw from the Alps. Zürich is the ideal starting point for all
kinds of varied excursions.
|North-West of Switerland|
fascinating city. Encounter the best of modern art and architecture at
every step. Savour cherries fresh from nearby orchards and asparagus
from the Alsace.
|West of Switzerland|
Finding, enjoying, understanding. Balmly summer warmth bathes the
valley. Water gurgles from pond to pond in pine forests and vineyards.
|Fribourg / Neuchâtel / Jura / Jura Bernois|
the Jura range to the pre-Alpine hills. Vast elevated plains punctuated
with fir trees in lush pastures, farm buildings of light-coloured Jura
limestone. - the Jura region is a giant park created by Nature herself,
bordering France to the north and crossed by deep canyons to the south.
|Lake Geneva Region|
region, four worlds. They came, saw... and stayed. Courbet, Kokoschka,
Charlie Chaplin and David Bowie are among those who settled at Lake
Geneva, attracted, no doubt, by the Alpine panorama and almost
world's smallest metropolis. Cosmopolitan Geneva - a world of its own,
a world for everyone, quite apart from the rest of Switzerland.
|Eastern Switzerland/ Liechtenstein|
Switzerland stretches from the shimmering waters of Lake Constance
across the hilly Appenzellerland to the Alpine landscapes of
Toggenburg, the Heidiland holiday region and the Glarnerland. Far off
in the Rhine Valley is Vaduz with its princes' castle.
valleys descending from high mountains. Rivers in every conceivable
direction. German, Romansh and Italian in a single canton.
freedom. Switzerland was born when the good people of Uri, Schwyz and
Unterwalden formed an alliance at the Rütli. Here, in Central
Switzerland, is the Schöllenen Bridge which made north-south travel
across the Gotthard range possible, and here, in 1871, Europe?s first
cog railroad up to Rigi marked the beginning of tourism as we know it.
grand. A slight haze tints quiet rivers with subtle pastel hues.
Impressively vast roofs shelter prosperous Emmental farmhouses..
nature and holidays come together. Waterfalls crash down sheer cliff
sides. Glacier-fed creeks force their way through th narrow Rosenlaui
and Aare canyons.
|South of Switzerland|
Italian flair of Switzerland. The Mediterranean region seems to begin
on the southern side of the Alps. There is a feel of Italy, with palm
trees at clean beaches and lanes and alleyways leading to piazzas and
Swiss towns never lose their appeal - whatever the time of year! Art,
culture and culinary delights abound in Swiss towns. And if shopping is
your particular love, the opportunities are practically limitless.
Basel, the oldest university town in Switzerland, is a markedly open city.
The Old Town of Bern figures on the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage sites.
This, the smallest metropolis in the world, is characterised by its international population.
The Olympic capital, is built on three hills.
The 'capita morale', the secret capital is the third-largest financial hub in Switzerland.
Centrally located, Lucerne is easy to reach.
In the bilingual main town of the Canton of Valais, the past and the future seamlessly meet.
This human-sized Eastern Swiss metropolis has a delightful, traffic-free Old Town.
The variety of scenery in Zurich will catch you unawares.
The national languages of Switzerland are German (North, Central and
Eastern Switzerland), French (Western Switzerland), Italian (Southern
Switzerland) and Romansh - a derive of Latin (South-Eastern
Switzerland). English is widely spoken.