Switzerland is well-known for its mountains, particularly the Alps in the south and the Jura in the northwest, but it also has a central plateau with rolling hills, meadows, and large lakes. The seven wonders of Switzerland are listed below.
The Castle of Chillon
The Chillon Castle is built on the island of Chillon, a circular limestone rock that advances in Water Geneva between Montreux and Villeneuve, with a high slope on one side and the lake and its steep bottom on the other. Since the Roman era, Chillon has served as a military base.
The castle’s site is decisive: it guards the route between the Vaud Riviera, which includes access to the north towards Germany and France, and the Rhone valley, which provides a quick road to Italy and a beautiful view of the Savoyard beach on the other side of the lake. Chillon is one of Switzerland’s and Europe’s most popular mediaeval castles.
From 1536 until 1798, it was inhabited successively by the House of Savoy and then by the Bernese. It currently belongs to the State of Vaud and is designated as a Swiss Cultural Property of National Significance.
The Lavaux Vineyards
Lavaux is made up of 830 hectares of terraced vineyards that run for roughly 30 kilometres along the northern, south-facing beaches of Lake Geneva. Even though there is indications that vines were planted in the area during Roman times, the real vine terraces date back to the 11th century, when Benedictine and Cistercian monks ruled the region.
Chasselas is the major wine grape type cultivated here. Lavaux’s vineyards are protected from development. Lavaux has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2007. Lavaux’s vines have not been sprayed with toxic pesticides since 2016. There are several treks that may be taken through the vineyards of Lavaux. The Tourism Office of Switzerland recommends the Terrasses de Lavaux hiking path, which runs from Saint-Saphorin to Lutry.
The Castles of Bellinzona
The Castles of Bellinzona are a complex of fortresses located around the town of Bellinzona, just on Alpine foothills. The collection includes defensive walls and three castles : Castelgrande, Montebello, and Sasso Corbaro. Castelgrande is built on a rocky ridge with a system of walls that defend the old city and link it to Montebello.
The tallest of the three castles, Sasso Corbaro, is situated on a solitary rocky promontory south-east of the other two. Since 2000, the Bellinzona Castles and their defensive walls have been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The castle may be accessed by using an elevator from the rock’s base to the castle grounds, or by ascending steep, narrow pathways from the city centre via the fortified walls to the castle grounds.
The museum in the south wing spans 6500 years of human existence on the hill, from the earliest Neolithic hamlet to the twentieth century. The museum also has the painted ceilings of Casa Ghiringhelli and the Albergo della Cervia, a former inn, as well as a collection from Bellinzona’s mint. The museum is open all year round. The 19th century arsenal, which now serves as a restaurant, is located to the west of the museum.
The Abbey of St. Gallen
The Abbey of Saint Gall is a defunct abbey in a Catholic ecclesiastical complex in the Swiss city of St. Gallen. The Carolingian-era monastery has been in existence since 719 and became an autonomous principality between the 9th and 13th centuries, and it was for many years one of Europe’s most important Benedictine abbeys.
Saint Othmar raised it on the site where Saint Gall had built his hermitage. The Abbey’s library is one of the world’s oldest monastery libraries. The city of St. Gallen began as an abbey town next to the monastery. Following the abbey’s secularisation about 1800, the old Abbey church was converted into a Cathedral in 1848. Since 1983, the abbey precinct has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Abbey library of Saint Gall is regarded as one of the world’s richest mediaeval libraries. It houses one of the most extensive collections of early mediaeval books in German-speaking Europe. As of 2005, the library included over 160,000 volumes, 2100 of which were handwritten. Almost half of the handwritten volumes are from the Middle Ages, with 400 dating back more than 1000 years.
The Sphinx Observatory
The Sphinx Observatory is a Swiss astronomical observatory located atop the Jungfraujoch. It is called after the Sphinx, a granite peak on which it stands. It is one of the world’s tallest observatories, standing 3,571 metres above sea – level. It is also the second highest observation deck in Switzerland and is open to visitors.
The mountain has been tunnelled to accommodate an elevator that rises to the observatory from the Jungfraujoch railway station, Europe’s highest such train station. The building is situated on the Valais side of the line, just a few metres from the canton of Bern, although it is accessible from the Bernese Oberland by the Jungfrau Railway. Within a few kilometres, it provides vistas of the Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger peaks.
The Sphinx Observatory’s scientific section comprises two big labs, a weather observation station, a workshop, two terraces for scientific experiments, and an astronomical and meteorological chamber. A 76cm telescope with Cassegrain and Coudé focus is housed in the astronomical cupola.
The Grande Dixence
The Grande Dixence Dam is a concrete hydroelectric dam located on the Dixence at the top of the Val d’Hérémence in the Swiss canton of Valais. It is the tallest gravity dam in the world, the fifth tallest dam worldwide, and the tallest dam in Europe, standing at 285 metres. It’s a component of the Cleuson-Dixence Complex.
The dam’s principal function is to generate hydroelectric electricity, which powers four power plants, enough to power 400,000 Swiss residences. Lake Dix, its reservoir, is held back by the dam. It is the second biggest lake in Valais and the largest lake above 2,000 metres in the Alps, with a surface area of 4 square kilometres.
The dam’s construction began in 1950 and was finished in 1961, before it was formally commissioned in 1965. The majority of the water comes from glaciers melting throughout the summer. The lake is normally full by late September and gradually empties during the winter, finally reaching its lowest point around April.
The Landwasser Viaduct
The Landwasser Bridge is a six-arched curving limestone railway viaduct with a single track. It crosses the Landwasser connecting Schmitten and Filisur in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. The Landwasser Viaduct, planned by Alexander Acatos, was built between 1901 and 1902 by Müller & Zeerleder on behalf of the Rhaetian Railway, which still owns and operates it today.
It is 65 metres high and 136 metres long, and its southeastern abutment links directly to the Landwasser Tunnel, making it a landmark component of the World Heritage-listed Albula Railway. For the first time since its initial construction, the Landwasser Viaduct underwent restoration work in 2009. It is also included in the first few minutes of the film “A Cure for Wellness.”
The cultural significance of the railway and its structures, such as the Landwasser Viaduct, has been legally recognised by UNESCO since 2008, when it was included on the World Heritage list. It was regarded as a difficult architectural accomplishment of the day, and its construction utilised numerous advanced techniques.
I hope you now have a better understanding of the seven wonders of Switzerland; be sure to add them to your bucket list when you visit.