While most of us associate Switzerland with snow capped mountains, it is also home to some spectacular art and architecture. With a population of 8.6 million, Switzerland has over 1000 museums and both historic and modern theaters and concert halls.
Interesting architecture can be found not only in its largest cities of Zürich (among the world's principal financial centres), Geneva (home to many international organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, WHO and the UN) and Basel (renowned for its pharmaceutical industry) but also in the countryside.
Grisons, Switzerland's largest canton, located at the border with Liechtenstein, exemplifies this well: its capital Chur is home to many museums, both Davos and the Bündner Herrschaft are of literary fame respectively through Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain and Johanna Spyri's Heidi, and in the Surselva one can relax in beautiful Therme Vals. Even in its relatively remote valleys Val Bregaglia and Val Poschiavo, buildings designed by famous architects are to be discovered.
One product firmly associated with Switzerland is the mechanical watch: Buzz Aldrin wore an OMEGA watch when he stepped on the moon in 1969, a company headquartered in Biel / Bienne. And watchmaking sometimes even influenced architecture as can be seen in UNESCO World Heritage site La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle.
And let's not forget that the world's largest sporting event, the Olympic Games, is also connected to Switzerland, with the International Olympic Committee being headquartered in Lausanne, the Capitale Olympique.
All major architectural styles, from Roman through the Churches and Castles and Forts of the Middle Ages to Art Nouveau and Post Modern are well represented in Switzerland. Indeed is it here that the Congrès internationaux d'architecture moderne were founded in 1928, with Swiss architects Karl Moser and Le Corbusier as founding members. And even today, Switzerland is home to many famous architects and architecture practices, such as Peter Zumthor, Valerio Olgiati, Herzog & de Meuron and many more.
One particular interesting way to explore and experience these architectural treasures is through living in them, even when it's only for a short time. The choice is yours: while Ferien im Baudenkmal offers to rent vacations homes in centuries old, softly restored, buildings, some Swiss Youth Hostels are located inside former factories or even a former sanatorium in Crans-Montana. Looking for more luxury ? The Grand Resort Bad Ragaz with its recent redesign by Claudio Carbone might be perfect for you.
My top 10 favourite buildings
With now over 200 buildings in Switzerland presented on this website, which are my absolute favourites ? The decision wasn't easy, but here are my top 10:
10. FIFA headquarters, Zürich
09. Stiftsbibliothek, St. Gallen
08. P+R Étoile, Geneva
07. Pfarrkirche St. Peter und Paul, Villmergen
06. Crématorium, La Chaux-de-Fonds
05. Château de Chillon, Montreux
04. Villa Planta, Chur
03. Galfetti tower, Lausanne
02. Rechtswissenschaftliche Bibliothek, Zürich
01. Therme Vals