Switzerland UNESCO Sites – Episode 623

categories: europe travel

Switzerland UNESCO sites - The Best Things to See (Travel Podcast)

Hear about travel to Switzerland as the Amateur Traveler talks to Gary Arndt from everything-everywhere.com about his recent trip to visit all the UNESCO sites in Switzerland.

  • Abbey of St Gall (1983)
  • Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona (2008)
  • Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Landscapes (2008)
  • Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair (1983)
  • Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona (2000)
  • Monte San Giorgio (2003)
  • Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch (2001)
  • Old City of Berne (1983)
  • La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, Watchmaking Town Planning (2009)
  • Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps (2011)
  • Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces (2007)
  • The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier, an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement (2016)

Gary says, “I visited all the World Heritage sites in Switzerland, all 12 of them and did it in a little under 2 weeks so it was about one per day. I got to see a lot of the country that I had never been to before, that a lot of people don’t visit, to be honest. Most of these places don’t get a lot of tourism. It was a really neat insight on the country and the different parts of it. Even though it’s one country, there are really 3 major parts of the country, the German, French and Italian parts. There are 4 official languages in Switzerland as well. I also got to visit a city that speaks Romansh.”

Gary starts us near Zürich and we circle the country mostly clockwise.

The Abbey of St Gall is a Carolingian-era monastery that was for many years a major center for the Benedictine order, but it was the library of the monastery that really impressed Gary.

The Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona is a significant area geologically because older rock is above newer rock because of an upthrust, but for most people, it is just a great place to go hiking.

The Rhaetian Railway is an impressive engineering achievement which is why it made it on the UNESCO list. It is a section of railway that passes through some incredibly beautiful mountains. Gary gave up his 1st class seat to sit in the open-air car and wants to go back and do the route in winter as well.

The Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair is almost the farthest eastern point of Switzerland, 100m from the Italian border. The people there seek Romansh. It is still a working convent with 11 nuns. It was put on the UNESCO list because of the Carolingian artwork on the church interior.

The Three Castles, Defensive Wall, and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona is in the Italian region of Switzerland and is more similar to Milan than Zürich. It is a beautiful region on the southern slope of the Alps with palm trees. The castles and walls were built to control this strategic valley and trade route.

The Monte San Giorgio site is a paleontology site. There is nothing in English. Gary found the museum to be more interesting than the site itself.

Unlike the other sites, the Jungfrau gets a huge amount of tourism. The nearby valley Gary thought compared to Yosemite Valley in beauty. The Jungfrau railroad to the top of the mountain was finished in 1912 and was built just for tourism. There are activities at the top of the mountain. Gary was impressed with the views and the marketing. It is very touristy.

The Old City of Bern was built in a curve in the river. The whole old town is a UNESCO site. The clocktower is one of the highlights. The clock in the tower does not use daylight savings time and is set to Bern solar time.

La Chaux-de-Fonds is the place not only where Swiss watches are made but where most of the high end watches in the world are made. Gary did not expect to love this site, but it was one of his favorite sites of the entire trip. He tried his hand at watchmaking but is better at photography.

The Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps site is a serial site, that is a site with multiple locations in more than one country. These are sites of prehistoric houses built on piles on the banks of lakes. He visited the site at Laténium. While there he also visited the Charlie Chaplin museum.

The Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces is a nice place to grow wine on the northern shore of Lake Léman. Switzerland is not well known for wines as they don’t export most of their wine.

The last site and the second serial site are buildings that are the Architectural Work of Le Corbusier who was one of the architects who ushered in modernism.

Whether you visit all of these sites or some of them, they are significant places to visit that will take you to lovely and varied regions of Switzerland.

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Show Notes

Everything everywhere
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland
Romansh language
Swiss Pass
Abbey of Saint Gall
Saint Gall
Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona
Bad Ragaz
Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair
Swiss National Park
Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch
The Top of Europe
Jungfrau-Aletsch protected area
La Chaux-de-Fonds / Le Locle, Watchmaking Town Planning
International Museum of Watches
Prehistoric Pile Dwellings around the Alps
Chaplin’s World
Lavaux, Vineyard Terraces
The Architectural Work of Le Corbusier


Anne on Travel to the Island of Sumatra, Indonesia – Episode 616

Hi Chris,

Love your show and especially the Sumatra episode. I went about 5 years ago and had a fabulous time diving at Pulau Weh all the way up on the north tip. It took something like 25 hours to get there from Medan, with not one but two flat tires and a passenger count of 28 in a 12-seater minibus, but was well worth the effort. ?


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

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