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Switzerland

Medieval History to Modern Engineering - Switzerland Is An Amazing Land

 

Switzerland is a mystic city that has a lot to share about its history. It is officially known as the Swiss Confederation or Confoederatio Helvetica in Latin. The country has a national culture that is a perfect mixture of German, French and the Italian ingredients.

 

Switzerland is popular worldwide by these clichés: chocolates, watches, bank accounts, army knives, cheese, skiing, yodel singing, Heidi, etc.

 

The four national languages spoken here are German French, Italian, and Romansch and most people tongue German. The country is very popular for its alpine landscape and beauty. Swiss towns attract travelers by its sheer scenic beauty and varied activities on the alpine mountain ranges.

 

This small landlocked country shares its borders with France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein and Germany. Switzerland is a place with temperate climate although temperature varies with altitude. The country is located in the heart of Central Europe.

 

Switzerland during medieval times

 

Hallstatt and La Tene Cultures were the earliest tribes of this area. It was during the late Iron Age that the LaTene Culture developed and flourished. Helvetti was other most important tribes of the Swiss region.

 

Tiberius I and his brother conquered the Alps integrating these to the Roman Empire. Switzerland was also called Helvetia during the ancient times. In 1291 Switzerland became a league of cantons in the Holy Roman Empire; however, the country became an independent state from the Holy Roman Empire through the Treaty of Westphalia in the year 1648. In 1798, the French troops conquered the country and gave it a new name Helvetic Republic. In 1803, the federal government in Switzerland was reinstated, thanks to Napoleon. The French and the Italian people of Switzerland have been granted a political equality since 1815.

 

The congress of Vienna recognized the independence of Switzerland in the year 1815 and the Catholic cantons split and formed into a new union called as Sonderbund during the revolutionary period of 1847. However, they did not last long and were eventually defeated only to join the federation. Swiss constitution established a union much similar to United States in 1848. The federal constitution was established in the year 1874 with a strong central government that accede large power of control to the cantons.

 

Neutrality was the policy of this country during the world wars. Headquarters of League of Nations and a number of international organizations is at Geneva, internationally famous city of the stylish Swiss.

 

Although, women were declined of status to vote or to hold office until 1971, by 1999 the country saw its first woman president in Ruth Dreifuss. She was also the first Jewish citizen to seat in the position.

 

Geography and Climate

 

Switzerland is the land of Alps with the tallest peak being the Dufourspitze on the Swiss side of the Italian border and it is one of the summits of the Monte Rosa massif. The Mont Blanc is the tallest peak of the Alps located in France.

 

By topography, Switzerland is a mountainous plateau bounded by Alps on the south and the Jura Mountains border the northwestern side of the country.

 

You can visit Switzerland throughout the year; all time is the best time. Switzerland, being plateau has the most favorable and a very pleasant climate all through the year. The country has a cool and cozy climate although the tall peaks of the Alps receive very high snowfall throughout the year. All said, if you want to catch glimpses of snow falling, do not go between July and September because it is in these months that the snowfall is minimum.

 

The weather conditions are best during the spring, summer and the autumn seasons. Alpine wildflowers can be seen in full blooms during June and July. But tourist influx to Switzerland is greatest during the summer season. While planning for a holidaying at Switzerland make sure you have your winter wear packed along with light raincoat and a folding umbrella.

 

One Can’t Afford To Miss These Major Attractions…

 

Switzerland has loads of attractions that include but not limited to thick forests with nature trails and hiking paths, lakes, ancient cities, scenic countryside with lush green meadows and farms. The influence of the heritage of France, Italy and Germany can be seen in the monuments, palaces and castles here at Switzerland. Swiss Alps is one major attraction for tourists from all over and mountaineers from all over the world congress here at Alps for winter mountaineering expeditions. The snow-capped peaks, icy glaciers, rocky crags and the awesome spires are a treat to one’s eyes and a photographer’s hands are pretty busy here. Visitors also enjoy swimming in the mountain lakes here.

 

Lucerne is a Swiss city bordering on the Lake Lucerne that is surrounded by mountains. This town of medieval times with cobblestone streets, fountains and markets offer great attraction to visitors. Kapellbrucke, one of the popular attractions is in fact the oldest road bridge in the entire of Europe and it is a 14th century construction. In 1933, the bridge was destroyed by fire but it has been reconstructed the same way, as was the original looked. The roof panels of the bridge were embellished with scenes of the 17th century. In Lucerne, there are about 10 museums. The most popular being The Swiss transport museum that showcases dozens of huge locomotives, digging of the Gotthard tunnel, and airplanes. Additionally, it offers plenty of hands-on activities for kids. The museum also has an IMAX theater, a planetarium and a section for exhibiting over 300 works of world famous Swiss artist Hans Erni.

 

Another attraction in Lucerne is the Lion monument that is carved out of a cliff by the artist, Bertel Thorvaldsen that is dedicated to the memory of 700 Swiss guards killed in Paris during the French Revolution. Mount Pilatus is the mountain ranges surrounding the Lucerne and the tourists can climb up these for a fun trip. One can also find the world’s steepest railway at the top of the mountain. There is a hotel and four restaurants for you to indulge in some great food.

 

Geneva is another Swiss city that is situated on Lake Geneva and it is a perfect blend of old and new. Geneva is one of the most privileged cities of the country because of its exceptional location. Visitors can enjoy the opulent mansion, harbor and its fountain. The shimmering shores of the lake and wooded mountains are a treat to eyes.

 

Geneva, Montreux and Lausanne are the cities lining the northern shore of the Lake Geneva. Geneva, however, is a place with rolling vineyards, castles, chalets and villages. The Jura Mountain that is nearby provides a refreshing tour to your Swiss holidaying.

 

The capital city of Switzerland, Bern, is also one of the oldest and most beautiful cities of this small country. There are a great variety of attractions here. The Bernese Oberland with spectacular countryside and enchanting lakes and impressive mountains can be so much recharging to tiresome souls. The most important of these mountains is the Jungfraujoch near Interlaken. Gstaad, Grindelwald, Wengen and Muerren are other Alpine and mountain resorts of this area. If you have time plan to visit these. They can be very much worthwhile.

 

Italian-speaking southern most canton Ticino is another attraction that is quite different from other Swiss areas. The place is blessed with lakeside resorts Lugano and Locarno and it is entirely a Mediterranean Riviera milieu. While Lugano is one of the largest financial centers with a perfect blend of a world city, Locarno has a very pleasant climate with its lush sub-tropical vegetation.

 

St. Moritz and Davos are the winter resorts of the isolated mountain valleys of Graubunden. While St. Moritz is the place that enjoys generous sunlight in Switzerland, it is also a place with a cosmopolitan atmosphere.

 

Take time to enjoy even at Engadin that offers some lovely vista, deep valleys, and fiercely blue mountain lakes and rows of White Mountains.

 

The most populous city of Switzerland is by no surprise Zurich that is also famous for its financial institutions, shops and art galleries. It is a wonderful place with beautiful sceneries on the shore of Lake Zurich and is an ideal starting point for all excursions to Swiss. It offers views of gentle hills, peaceful woods, unpolluted lakes and rivers and picturesque villages.

 

Martigny, is another Swiss town situated along the Rhone River and this valley town is surrounded by terraced vineyards. One major attraction of Martigny is the Pierre Gianadda Foundation. Labyrinthe of Adventures in Martigny is an amazing maze with hidden surprises, obstacles and is quite challenging for everyone.

 

Take some walk in Doracnaz and visit the thermal baths of Les Bains de Saillon; it has 4 thermal pools, fitness areas, salons, saunas, stylish studios and much more. Happyland, the biggest theme park of Switzerland is nowhere but in Martigny.

 

Matterhorn in Zermatt is the most famous mountain peak that is a part of the lofty Alps in Valais and needless to say an impressive beauty. Zermatt is a car-free resort and a unique place to visit. Zermatt has about thirty five 4000 m snow-laden peaks for the tourists. So make sure you have time to incorporate Zermatt in your Swiss itinerary.

 

Montreux town is at the heart of Swiss Riviera and it has beautiful lake walks and a really stunning Chillon Castle that is as old as 11th century with a tower, dungeons, courtyard and numerous rooms filled with arms and furniture.

 

Basel, is the second largest city has the world famous event Basler Fastnacht, the spring carnival.

 

Swiss National park in Zernez consists of a wide variety of wild animals and it is a protected natural environment. The park has walking trails with spectacular views.

 

Hmm,… so many things to do here

 

Hiking is the national passion in Switzerland and there is about 50,000 km of trails along all terrains. According to the degree of difficulty the trails are graded and hiking times are given on the signposts. The Swiss Hiking Federation organizes guided walks, weekend trips and holidays that are open to individuals as well as groups. In fact, all trips are guided by qualified volunteers and there are also ‘Radio Walks’ that keep guiding the hikers to go to the meeting point or the station as announced.

 

Mountain sports such as mountain climbing, ice climbing, ski touring, snow boarding, deep snow skiing and glacier walking are wonderful things to do here. The list of approved mountaineering centers as well as the list of approved guides is published by the Swiss Association of Mountain Guides. Accommodation is available at alpine huts and chalets.

 

Cycling is another trend that’s picking up. There are cycling trails available for about 3300 km of well-marked interlinked trails and bicycles are available for hire for a good price. Throughout the country there are skating routes available, varying in difficulty from easy to challenging.

 

Water sports such as sailing, water skiing and canoeing are a common sight at the lakes; Geneva, Lugano and Neuchatel. Rowing is also available on Lake Zurich.

 

Paragliding and hang gliding can be done anywhere in these mountains. Although, it is expensive, considering the amount of thrill experienced with the gliding it is worth spending.

 

Europe’s best skiing spots are in Switzerland. Top most ski resorts are in Berner Oberland, Graubunden and Valais. Skiing season, however, starts from mid December continues until late March. Cross-country skiing is as popular as downhill skiing.

 

Children’s dizzyland…

 

Bois de la Batie is a forested park located at Geneva. It has an island with a challenging playground, a river, a small zoo and a sports field with variety of games for children. There are two restaurants to satisfy your hunger.

 

AquaSplash Renens, located in Lausanne is another kids zone that is accessible by taxi and public transport. It provides heated pools and slides for both children and adults. There is a high-diving board and courts for volleyball, football and badminton are also there.

 

Events and carnivals……if possible visit during carnival time

 

There are a variety of festivals in Switzerland. The May Day is dedicated entirely for children. The town of Château-d'Oex, hosts the annual ballooning festival in the month of January. Benichon of Chatel-St-Denis is a popular traditional food festival that is celebrated at the end of the harvest. Les Paccots Mid Summer Craft Market is an event in which about 70 craftsmen exhibit their products in the main street. Desalpe is a mountain festivity and in Bad Bonn Kilbi Festival is a festival of music where the finest and the upcoming bands perform.

 

The Lausanne Carnival is characterized by colorful processions and one can enjoy a three days filled with fun, food, street theatre, confetti fights, music and last but not the least the DJ nights. Zurich festival is another event and this yearly-once festival is marked by theater, opera, dance and classical music performances.

 

Nightlife…upbeat and vibrant

 

There are a wide range of bars, cafés and clubs all over this country. Zurich is a place with vibrant nightlife and entertainment and Kaufleutaen party club is a must visit place.

 

Transportation

 

So many international organizations in the country make it well connected to major cities of the world via the international airport.

 

Getting around Switzerland can be by several means. The most common transport within the cities is buses and many of the cities have trams, a few hillside ones have a funicular or two, but the true metro system is in and around the Lausanne. Zurich has a network of suburban commuter trains called S-Bahn and these will run to the neighboring towns and along the lakeshore. There are also taxis and boats for transportation.

 

Leave everything at home; just pack your bags to get molded in the Swiss style.



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