Schwyz - Swiss History


Schwyz as the capital of the eponymous canton and the source of Switzerland's name is steeped in myths. The Old Town and the local museums mirror the history of the Confederation. According to legend, the city was founded by two Alemannic brothers.

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The first documented reference to the city of Schwyz dates as far back as the year 972. In 1642 a fire destroyed nearly all houses, only a few buildings survived the catastrophe, including House "Bethlehem", which was built in the year 1287.

Today baroque parish churches and manor-houses line the large square at the core of the city. This is where the Schwyz museums, such as the Forum of Swiss History, a modern, multimedia museum housed in old armory walls, are located.

The permanent exhibition “The Emergence of Switzerland” uses virtual guides, innovative multimedia stations, and selected objects to describe the emergence of the old Confederation during the Middle Ages. Visitors to the museum immerse themselves in a medieval world: They meet a knight on horseback ready for battle, hear a monk dictate in the scriptorium, or meet a muleteer on the Devil’s Bridge. The history of the origins of Switzerland is depicted on an adventure course (Parcours) that appeals to the emotions of young and old.


  • 1
    Kim Stewart

    Does anyone know if the town of Schwyz was once called Zeiss? I am tracing my family history and have some information that the Zeissloff family was from this town and it was once called Zeiss. The Zeissloff family to America in 1736. They came from Saltzbourg in an area near the Rhine River, they left when France took control of the area. Any information on the Zeissloff family in Switzerland is much appreciated.

    Monday, Sep 12, 2011 9:23 PM

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