Switzerland, a small country that always pops out in a different color in the middle of a map of the European Union. A territory of 15940 Sq mi/ 41,285 km2, with more thant 1,500 lakes, 8.4 millions inhabitants, who speak 4 national languages - and most Swiss nationals speak at least one foreign language.
How was Switzerland formed ?
Switzerland was not made in a day, but over centuries: On 1 August 1291, three cantons (Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden) got together on a meadow in central Switzerland and swore to stand together - this is known as the Rütli Oath - as a confederation. In 1803, internal unrest and numerous coups d’état prompt Napoleon to issue an “Act of Mediation”, which put an end to the Helvetic Republic and restores the sovereignty of the cantons.
At the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, The European powers were interested in recognising and maintaining sovereign and neutral Switzerland in order to ensure the neutrality of the strategic Alpine passes. Swiss independence and neutrality are formally recognised by European powers at the Congress of Vienna.
In 1848, at the end of a civil war, Switzerland is transformed from a union of states to a federal state as declared by a new constitution. The country has since expended to 26 cantons, with Jura, whose territory was previously part of canton Bern until 1978, being the youngest Swiss Canton.
Enjoy our selection of 8 emblematic Swiss classics.
Home Swiss Home.
Birthplace of Switzerland.
Rütli is synonymous, for all Swiss people, with the founding history of Switzerland. The myth was nourished by the impressive drama «William Tell» by Friedrich Schiller. The easiest way to the Rütli is by boat from Brunnen or Flüelen (near Lucerne). There are hiking trails to and from Seelisberg, but these are very steep and strenuous. The “Swiss Path”, a 21mi/ 34km hike around the historic Lake Uri, begins on the Rütli. In remembrance of the historic Rütli Oath, the Rütli Shooting has been staged since 1862, albeit not on the National Holiday, but on the Wednesday before St. Martin’s Day, on November 11th.
Swiss National Museum.
Alps and army, banks and farmers, Heidi and cheese and cantons, edelweiss and confederates – Why is Switzerland like it is? The largest cultural-historical collection of Switzerland in the National Museum Zurich provides answers.The National Museum enjoys a central position just a minute’s walk from the main railway station in Zurich. The museum is one of the attractions of this city on the River Limmat. Gustav Gull’s listed building from the 19th century has been extended with the addition of a new building designed by architects Christ & Gantenbein and completed in summer 2016.
The Tell-Museum holds the most comprehensive collection of hictorical, artistic and original documents, pictures and objects from six centuries connected to Switzerland’s freedom fighter, William Tell, located right among the art-historical sights of Bürglen’s protected center. It also features an important collection of works by Basel painter Ernst Stückelberg (1831–1903), who had put up his studio in Bürglen and painted his four great frescos of the Tell’s Chapel on the “Urnersee” section of Lake Lucerne. While in Altdorf, don't forget to have a look at the William Tell statue in the market place.
Described by American author Mark Twain as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world...The Dying Lion of Lucerne was hewn out of stone on site and commemorates the fallen Swiss guardsmen who died in 1792 during the French Revolution. When the angry masses stormed the royal palace on August 10 1792, the 800 Swiss guardsmen stood up as the last defenders of the the monarchy - but in vain. the monument was initiated by Karl Pfyffer von Altishofen, a junior lieutenant with the Swiss guards.
Long live the queen.
Located in the canton of Schwyz, between Lakes Lucerne, Zug and Lauerz. the Rigi is also known as the Queen of the mountains. Back in the 18th century, the Rigi’s unique location made it a famous destination for travellers across Europe. In some ways, it was the pioneer mountain of Alpine tourism. Queen Victoria, no less, was even carried up the peak in a sedan chair. Several trains dating back to the early days still operate today, with public nostalgia trips scheduled on weekends in the Summer.