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Gotthard Pass, Switzerland

The St.Gotthard Pass connects the Ticino and the Uri cantons of Switzerland and rises up to 2091m (6860ft). There is a 17km tunnel which takes most of the traffic, but in good weather the journey over the summit rewards with wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and the valley below. At the summit is the Lake, in whose clear waters one can see the reflections of the mountain peaks and also the many fish jumping up and sending ripples across the calm surface of the water. At the summit there is a restaurant, gift shop and the St.Gotthard Museum. Old photos show the mountain road in days gone by when it was little more than a pathway and there are also photos of the old horse-drawn post carriage making its way slowly over the steep road. Today one can take a ride in a replica of this old coach, complete with driver resplendent in national costume, and enjoy the scenery along with much horn blowing, a taste of days long gone.
Switzerland with its countless sources of water is said to be Europe’s reservoir. Four of the continents most important rivers have their source within the St.Gotthard Massif – the Rhine, Reuss, Ticino and the Rhone rivers. There is a 90 km Four Headwaters Trail which leads to their sources. This can be done in single day treks or in a complete 5-day hike.(to discover more about this go to:www.vier-quellen-weg.ch).

The Teufelsbrücke (‘Devil’s Bridge’)

The Teufelsbrücke (‘Devil’s Bridge’) is a bridge over the Schöllenen Gorge in the Swiss canton of Uri. The bridge provides access to the St. Gotthard Pass by crossing the gorge and the Reuss River below.

According to a local myth, building the first bridge was very hard and so the Devil himself agreed to build it. The condition attached to the construction was that the Devil would get the soul of the first to pass over the bridge. So, when the bridge was finished, people chased a goat over the bridge. Angered by the trick, the Devil went to pick up a large stone (called Teufelsstein, the Devil’s Stone) in order to smash the bridge to pieces. On his way to the bridge however, he encountered an old believing woman with a cross. Scared of the cross, he left the stone and fled. The devil’s stone weighs 220 tons and stands near Göschenen. In 1977, the stone was moved 127 meters to make way for the new motorway passing over the St.Gotthard Pass, at a cost of 300,000 Swiss Francs. Popular belief has it that the moving of the stone was the cause of an increased number of accidents on kilometre 16 on the St. Gotthard road tunnel.

National St. Gotthard-Museum

The museum is situated on the height of the big alpine pass on 2,100 m above sea level. With the aid of very modern media, the national Saint Gotthard museum shows you the people’s long, exhausting struggle to constantly mend and extend the so important trade and traffic route.
In the national Saint Gotthard museum the positive and negative aspects of the route are being showed in a very lively way. The brutal fights which took place here, the self-sacrificing helpfulness of the dwellers of the hospice, the life of the postmen, the courage of the travellers in winter, the organisation of the transportation, the time of the stage coaches, the tunnelling for road and railway line, but also the attraction of the new ideas and arts – the visitor can witness and comprehend all this in an enthralling way.

For more information on the museum go to – www.museen-uri.ch/National-St-Gotthard-Museum.

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