Historic Sites in Switzerland

If you’re looking to discover historic sites in Switzerland and the surrounding area then you can explore our interactive map above or navigate further by using the links below.

There’s a fantastic selection of Historic Sites in Switzerland and you can plan some great things to see on your trips by browsing our selection. Once you’ve explored the historic sites of Switzerland you can use our itinerary planner tool to plan out your trip and then print off a free pocket guidebook.

Our database of historic places is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other historical sites or ruins in Switzerland you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Switzerland: Site Index

Photo by a-zehn-fr (cc)

Augusta Raurica

Augusta Raurica is an ancient Roman archaeological site near Basel in Switzerland.

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Augusta Raurica is a well-preserved Ancient Roman site near Basel in Switzerland. Founded in 15 BC, Augusta Raurica grew into a thriving colonia by the mid-first century with a population of over 20,000 people.

Amongst its sites, Augusta Raurica has a fifty-row theatre, the remains of several public and private buildings and a maze of underground Roman sewers connected to a main pump room.

Augusta Raurica also has an archaeological museum housing finds from the site including a collection of silver objects.

Photo by T.M.O.F. (cc)

Aventicum

Aventicum is an impressive ancient Roman site in Switzerland which was the thriving capital of the Helvetians.

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Aventicum is an impressive ancient Roman site in Switzerland which was the thriving capital of the Helvetians.

It is unclear as to exactly when Aventicum was founded, but it reached its peak between the 1st century BC and 5th century AD, during its time as capital of the region under Roman rule. At this point, it was home to some 20,000 inhabitants. Aventicum also became a colony of Rome or "colonia", a prestigious accolade, in around 71AD.

The sites which can now be seen at the archaeological site of Aventicum are very well preserved and include a 2nd century amphitheatre which would have seated 16,000, some of the original city walls with a surviving tower (originally one of 73), a set of thermal baths and holy sites including a sanctuary and some temples.

Now located in the area known as Avenches, Aventicum offers visitors plenty of original sites to see. There is also a museum within the amphitheatre tower which explores the history of Aventicum and with finds from the site itself including daily tools, mosaics, sculptures and various items from the city’s time under the Romans.

Photo by delaere (cc)

Bex Salt Mines

The Bex Salt Mines are a living museum of the salt mining industry which has operated here since the 17th century.

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The Bex Salt Mines (Mines de Sel Bex) are a living museum of the salt mining industry which has operated here since the 17th century up until present day.

Visitors to the Bex Salt Mines can discover the story of this site, from the time salt was first discovered in the 15th century to how it was mined from 1684 onwards, right up until today. There is even the opportunity to descend into the depths of the Bex Salt Mines via a real mine train as well as exploring the mines themselves.

Chateau de Chillon

Castle Chillon is a beautiful fort using Lake Geneva and a moat created between a small island and the mainland for defense.

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Chateau de Chillon, also called Castle Chillon, is a beautiful fort which uses both Lake Geneva and a moat created between a small island and the mainland for defense. First mentioned between 1160 or 1005 AD, it is along the shoreline of Lake Geneva near Veytaux.

Through the centuries it has been home to the Counts of Savoy as well as Lord Byron.

This article is a stub and is currently being expanded by our editorial team.

Photo by Dirty S (cc)

Chateau de Prangins

Chateau de Prangins is an 18th century French style castle and home to one of the branches of the Swiss National Museum.

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Chateau de Prangins (Prangins Castle) is an 18th century French style castle and home to one of the branches of the Swiss National Museum.

Dating back to the 1730s, Chateau de Prangins was home to great figures ranging from barons to Joseph Bonaparte and Voltaire before becoming a school. Now restored to the peak of its grandeur, Chateau de Prangins offers in an insight into its past and this period of Swiss history including a permanent open-air tour of its grounds.

Donated to the Confederation in 1975, Chateau de Prangins is now a national museum displaying a range of historical and cultural exhibits. In particular, among its permanent exhibits is a collection about Swiss life between the 18th and 20th centuries. Prangins lies just a few minutes from Nyon. It is an impressive example of the links between a living place and one that is steeped in history.

Photo by Stephi 2006 (cc)

Einsiedeln Abbey

Einsiedeln Abbey is a picturesque Baroque style Benedictine monastery with an illustrious history dating to the 9th century AD.

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Einsiedeln Abbey (Kloster Einsiedeln) is a picturesque Baroque style Benedictine monastery with an illustrious history dating to the 9th century AD.

Founded in 835AD by a monk called Meinrad - later murdered by robbers - Einsiedeln Abbey flourished into a cultural hub and a great pilgrimage site. Its chapel is even said to have been consecrated by Christ himself in 948AD.

Now home to an important statue known as the Black Madonna as well as a winery and a theological school, Einsiedeln Abbey is a popular tourist and pilgrimage site.

Fort Vallorbe

Fort Vallorbe was a World War II artillery fort which had great strategic importance defending the Col de Jougne Pass as well as the Swiss-French border.

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Fort Vallorbe was a World War II artillery fort which had great strategic importance defending the Col de Jougne Pass as well as the Swiss-French border.

Construction of Fort Vallorbe, also known as Fortress Vallorbe and the Pre-Giroud Military Fort, began in 1937 and was completed in 1941. Above ground, all that is seen of Fort Vallorbe are three buildings, but underneath is another story.

Hewn out of the surrounding rock, Fort Vallorbe was built into a network of underground tunnels including accommodation, a hospital and munitions storage, all with air filtration. Indeed, these self-sufficient bunkers accommodated up to 200 men in 1945. These can be visited during the summer, with a variety of exhibits about Fort Vallorbe, its past and, for the military history buff, its weaponry including missile launchers, machine guns and cannons. Just remember to dress up warmly, even in the heat, as it can get quite cold within the fort itself.

Photo by Al Ianni (cc)

Fraumunster

Fraumunster is a medieval church and one of the most famous in Zurich, renowned for its stained glass windows.

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Fraumunster (Church of Our Lady) is one of the most famous churches in Zurich. First built by King Louis the German in 853AD, most of the current site dates from the mid-13th century, when the Abbess Judenta Hagenbuch undertook renovations of Fraumunster.

Fraumunster is now famous for several aspects, both historical and architectural. Firstly, its convent had the right to mint coins until sometime in the 13th century.

Visitors who attend Fraumunster today go to see its Romanesque features such as its choir, its organ, which is the largest in the canton of Zurich, its frescos and, of course, its stained glass windows, many by Chagall.

Photo by davehighbury (cc)

Geneva Museum of Art and History

The Geneva Museum of Art and History is Switzerland’s largest such museum and home to a world renowned collection.

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The Geneva Museum of Art and History (Musee d’art et d’histoire) is Switzerland’s largest such museum and home to a world renowned collection.

From contemporary works right back to those of antiquity and prehistoric times, the Geneva Museum of Art and History displays some 7,000 exhibits including artefacts and items of art from around the globe.

The Geneva Museum of Art and History is separated into themes and sections, with the main ones being archaeology, fine arts and applied arts. These areas house incredibly diverse collections, including medieval paintings, Byzantine art and Roman sculptures, all under one roof.

Geneva Museum of Ethnography - Carl-Vogt

The Geneva Museum of Ethnography in Boulevard Carl-Vogt exhibits historic items from around the world and a range of civilisations.

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The Geneva Museum of Ethnography in Boulevard Carl-Vogt exhibits historic items from around the world and a range of civilisations.

Geneva Museum of Ethnography - Conches

The Geneva Museum of Ethnography in Conches displays historic pieces from all five continents and an array of civilisations.

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The Geneva Museum of Ethnography (Musee d'Ethnographie de Geneve) in Conches displays historic pieces from all five continents and an array of civilisations. With some 80,000 items from Africa, America, Asia, the Pacific and Europe, the Geneva Museum of Ethnography offers a fascinating insight into historic cultures from around the world and is said to be the second largest collection in Switzerland.

From African weapons and sculptures to pre-Columbian artefacts, Japanese samurai weaponry to historic musical instruments, the Geneva Museum of Ethnography offers an incredibly diverse number of things to see.

Please note, there is more than one branch of the Geneva Museum of Ethnography. The one in Boulevard Carl-Vogt is currently closed for renovations until 2014, while the one in Conches remains open.

Photo by roger4336 (cc)

Grossmunster

Grossmunster is a famous medieval church in Zurich with a history dating to Charlemagne.

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Grossmunster (Great Minster) is a famous medieval church in Zurich with a history dating to Charlemagne. Indeed, it is said that this Frankish king built the first incarnation of Grossmunster on the site where he found the graves of the city’s patrons, Felix and Regula.

However, the Romanesque style version of Grossmunster we see today, with its two iconic towers, was built later, from around 1100 until 1220. It was here in Grossmunster in the 16th century that Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger started the Swiss-German Reformation.

Today, visitors to Zurich flock to see Grossmunster’s Romanesque crypt, its museum dedicated to the Reformation and its pretty windows.

Photo by Olivier Bruchez (cc)

Gruyeres Castle

Gruyeres Castle is a picturesque medieval castle which was the seat of nobility for centuries.

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Gruyeres Castle (Chateau de Gruyeres) is a picturesque medieval castle which was the seat of nobility for centuries.

Indeed, built in the 13th century, Gruyeres Castle was called home by some nineteen of the counts of Gruyeres, a tradition only ended in the 16th century upon the bankruptcy of the last of these counts - Michel. At this point, Gruyeres Castle along with the rest of the Count’s lands were distributed between his creditors, these being the towns of Berne and Fribourg.

As a result, from 1555 Gruyeres Castle was used as the seat of the Fribourg bailiffs and later the prefects, all up to 1848. For around a century after that, Gruyeres Castle was the summer home of the Balland and Bovy families, finally becoming a museum in the 20th century.

Visitors to Gruyeres Castle can tour its museum, learning about its history and enjoying its pretty architecture. There are also temporary exhibitions on site.

International Museum of the Reformation

The International Museum of the Reformation in Geneva presents the story of the Protestant Reformation which occurred in Switzerland in the 16th century.

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The International Museum of the Reformation (Musee International de la Reforme) in Geneva presents the story of the Protestant Reformation which occurred in Switzerland in the 16th century.

Spread over some twelve rooms, the International Museum of the Reformation looks at this important event and the history of Protestantism from its very beginnings, exploring it through the ages and brings it right up to present day. The exhibits use a variety of media to do this, from historic items such as paintings, original manuscripts, engravings and religious objects through to modern media including films.

There is also significance to the Maison Mallet, the 18th century building where the International Museum of the Reformation is housed as it sits on the former site of the cloisters of St. Pierre Cathedral. It was also the former home of notable Huguenot, Gedeon Mallet.

Entry includes a free audio guide, available in French, German and English.

National Museum Zurich

The National Museum Zurich displays some one million exhibits relating to Swiss history and culture.

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The National Museum Zurich (Landesmuseum Zurich) displays some one million exhibits relating to Swiss history and culture. From ancient artefacts to medieval costume and modern furniture, the National Museum Zurich covers a diverse range of subjects and periods, from the prehistoric to present day.

Amongst other things at the National Museum Zurich, there’s an impressive display of Swiss handicrafts, a variety of historic religious items and weapons from the old Zurich Armoury.

Together with the Castle of Prangins and the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz, the National Museum Zurich forms part of the Swiss National Museum.

Palais des Nations

The Palais des Nations in Geneva has been the official European headquarters of the United Nations since 1966.

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The Palais des Nations (Palace of Nations) in Geneva has been the official European headquarters of the United Nations since 1966 - second in importance only to New York. Prior to this, the Palais des Nations, which is a 1930s built complex, was originally home to the League of Nations, leading to it also being known as the Volkerbund or "League of Nations" Palace.

Now at a length of some 600 metres, the grand Palais des Nations is where one finds several important elements of the UN, including its Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and Human Rights Council.

Guided and thematic tours of the Palais des Nations are available to the general public, who can see important places such as its 2,000-seater assembly hall - the largest room in the palace - and the Council Chamber as well as learning about the history and role of the UN.

Peterskirche - Zurich

Peterskirche in Zurich is a medieval site famed for having Europe’s largest clock face.

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Peterskirche in Zurich (St. Peter’s Church) is a medieval church famed for having Europe’s largest clock face. Whilst a church has stood on the site of Peterskirche in Zurich since the 9th century, the church itself has undergone several transformations and mostly dates from the 13th century.

Amongst its claims to fame, Peterskirche became the burial site of the first mayor of Zurich, Rudolf Brun, in 1360. The church is also revered for its mix of architectural styles, including Baroque, Gothic and Romanesque.

St Peter’s Cathedral - Geneva

St Peter’s Cathedral is a famed cathedral in Geneva dating back to the 12th century with an adjoining archaeological site.

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St. Peter’s Cathedral (Cathedrale St-Pierre) is a famed cathedral in Geneva dating back to the 12th century.

Originally begun sometime around 1160 and completed in 1260, St. Peter’s Cathedral would undergo several incarnations. In particular, whilst the original builders of St. Peter’s Cathedral adorned it with ornate and lavish decorations and ornaments, following the Reformation in the mid-16th century, this was significantly toned down. Indeed, today, St. Peter’s Cathedral can be described as austere.

Significantly, St. Peter’s Cathedral actually played an important role in the Reformation, it being from its pulpit that John Calvin preached about Protestantism. His chair can be viewed there.

Visitors who tour St. Peter’s Cathedral can still see some traces of the site’s onetime grandeur in its stained glass windows as well as in the 15th century Chapel of the Maccabees, which has been restored. There is also the opportunity to climb the cathedral towers for great views.

In addition to the current incarnation of St. Peter’s Cathedral, there are the archaeological remains of two earlier churches, once dating to the 11th century, the other to the 4th, both visible next to it today.

The Barbier-Muller Museum

The Barbier-Muller Museum is a famous art museum in Geneva with an impressive collection of historic pieces from civilizations around the globe.

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The Barbier-Muller Museum (Musee Barbier-Mueller) is a famous art museum in Geneva with an impressive collection of historic pieces from civilizations around the globe. In fact, from Africa to Oceania, Indonesia to America, the Barbier-Muller Museum has some 7,000 pieces representing the works of peoples from a variety of places and time periods.

The items at the Barbier-Muller Museum are also wide-ranging and include everything from fabrics to jewels, sculptures to ritual items.

The Reformation Monument

The Reformation Monument in Geneva is a tribute to the 16th century Protestant Reformation in Switzerland.

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The Reformation Monument (Monument de la Reformation) in Geneva is a tribute to the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland which occurred in the 16th century. It was in 1909, on the 400th anniversary of the birth of Jean Calvin, that construction of the Reformation Monument began, with its location adjacent to the city’s historic defensive walls.

Mainly comprised of a 100 metre wall - hence it is also known as the Reformation Wall (Murs des Reformateurs) - the Reformation Monument also celebrates the movement’s four main leaders in the form of five metre high statues of each of Jean Calvin, Theodore de Beze, Guillaume Farel and John Knox, together with smaller memorials to other figures involved and depictions of the events of the Reformation.

The inscription of "Post Tenebras Lux" is the Latin motto of the Reformation, meaning "After the darkness, light."

The Rietberg Museum

The Rietberg Museum in Zurich displays a world renowned collection of art from America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

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The Rietberg Museum (Museum Rietberg) displays a world renowned collection of art from non-European cultures including from America, Africa, Asia and Oceania and is located in Zurich.

From early Buddhist sculpture to pre-Columbian ceramics, Indian paintings to those of the Chinese Ming and Qing dynasties, The Rietberg Museum displays a wide range of exhibits, in terms of time periods, cultures and regions.