Switzerland Culture

Switzerland History and Culture



After the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age around 15-10 000 years ago, people only gradually settled in what is now Switzerland. About 2500 to 6000 years ago pile dwellings existed on the foothills of the Alps. In the 1st century BC The Alpine region, which was now populated by the Celts, came under Roman rule. Numerous Roman remains can be found in the Central Plateau. From the 5th century the Germanic tribes invaded, whereby the Gallo-Roman language of the already resident population was pushed back in the area of ​​German-speaking Switzerland. Alpine valleys and high altitudes were only opened up and used to a greater extent in the course of the Middle Ages. Until the early modern period, Switzerland was part of the Holy Roman Empire. However, from the end of the 13th century, starting from the central Swiss valleys of Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden, a federation, the “Confederation”, began to develop, into which cities such as Lucerne, Bern and Zurich were incorporated in the 14th century. The pushing back of the Habsburgs, an aristocratic family originally from Aargau, created identity and flowed into the national myth of William Tell . By the beginning of the 16th century, the Swiss Confederation managed to bring under its control other areas that extended beyond today’s borders. A long-term reach to northern Italy failed, however. In parts of Switzerland, according to agooddir, it was Reformation was successful and radiated with Zwingli in southern Germany and with Calvin worldwide. The first European religious wars took place in Switzerland (1529 and 1531), which subsequently remained religiously divided. With the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 it gained its sovereignty under international law. The defeat against Napoleonic France in 1798 brought the end of the Old Confederation. For a short time, the Helvetic Republic was a centralized state based on the French model, but the act of mediation was reversed 1803 back to a federal organization. The adoption of the constitution in 1848 marked the beginning of the modern Swiss federal state. With industrialization, the small farming country finally became an economically important “global player”. Switzerland was able to stay out of the world wars. Its neutrality policy, which has been consistently practiced since the 19th century, and its republican-democratic tradition within a Europe that has long been dominated by monarchies make Switzerland an exceptional case among European states. Even if there is close interdependence through numerous bilateral treaties and agreements, membership in the European Union has so far been largely rejected by the population.


Animal drawings on bone finds from the Kesslerloch, a cave in the canton of Schaffhausen used by Neolithic hunters (15,000–11,000 BC) are considered to be very early artistic evidence in Switzerland. The pile dwellings (4th ‒ 1st millennium BC) widespread throughout the Alpine region were first discovered on Lake Zurich in 1853/54. According to archaeological finds from La Tène in the canton of Neuchâtel, the Younger Iron Age (approx. 450 BC to the birth of Christ) is also known as the “ La Tène culture ”.

From the 1st century BC The inclusion of today’s Switzerland in the Roman Empire led to a Romanization of the resident Celtic population and the development of the Rhaeto-Romanic language. In contrast to western Switzerland, where standard French is predominantly spoken today, dialects belonging to Lombard could be retained in Ticino. In German-speaking Switzerland, different variants of Swiss German dominate everyday life and popular culture. Apart from a few Helveticisms, the written language is Standard German.

Today’s language borders have emerged since the Alemanni immigrated in the 5th century and divide Switzerland into cultural areas that are often influenced by and shared with neighboring countries. In the 14th century, the Manessian manuscript, the most beautiful and extensive Middle High German song manuscript, was created in Zurich. The philosopher J.-J. Rousseau or the pioneer of modern pedagogy JH Pestalozzi belong to the European canon. Madame de Staël fromGeneva had a decisive influence on the French perception of Germany. The linguist F. de Saussure had a great influence on the linguistics of the 20th century. 19th century authors such as J. Gotthelf and G. Keller or the 20th such as F. Dürrenmattand M. Frisch were very well received (Swiss literature). Similarly known in French-speaking countries are A. Cohen and Á. Kristóf .

Spyri ‘s classic children’s book “Heidi”, first published in 1880, was a worldwide success and continues to shape the image of a romantically transfigured Switzerland to this day. The Schauspielhaus Zurich is one of the most renowned German-speaking theaters (Swiss theater), the Locarno film festival as one of the most important international film festivals. Existing capital, collecting activities and patronage have led to the establishment of important art museums. Well-known artists include A. Böcklin , F. Hodler , A. Giacometti and M. Oppenheim (Swiss art).

Among the historical city centers that have been preserved in many places, the old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as is the St. Gallen monastery district, the St. Johann monastery in Müstair and the castles of Bellinzona. Baroque mansion buildings, on the other hand, are rarely found in Switzerland because of their non-monarchical past, unlike in neighboring countries. Modern architects such as Le Corbusier as well as their contemporaries M. Botta , P. Zumthor or Herzog & de Meuron have achieved notoriety far beyond Switzerland.

There is a wide variety of regional and local customs in Switzerland. Alphorns and Schwyzerörgeli, a special accordion, as well as yodelling are typical of traditional music. In the field of sport, swinging (a form of freestyle wrestling), stone pushing (a lawn power sport) and hornussen (a team sport) have emerged as “national games”.

Switzerland Culture