The Ballenberg Open Air Museum, Switzerland
An ideal day-trip from Andermatt, this is no ordinary museum – there are no hushed galleries or exhibits hidden behind glass here. What you’ll find are more than 100 historic houses and farm buildings from all over the country, painstaking dismantled at their original locations and preserved here for posterity.
The Ballenberg Open Air Museum opened in 1978 with the aim of celebrating and preserving Switzerland’s rural heritage . As you stroll around the beautifully kept grounds, passing from building to building, the experience of life centuries past is evoked at every turn. Well-tended fields, vegetable plots and livestock only add to the vividness of this impression – and children in particular will love the chance to pet some of the animals that the museum keeps. Including donkeys, sheep, rabbits, pigs and more.
From one of the oldest wooden houses in Switzerland, to rustic Alpine huts that once sheltered shepherds, every strata of rural life from every region of the country is represented here.
And, because there is more to a way of life than the structures that housed it, the museum also works to keep traditional handicrafts alive. Daily demonstrations mean you might find yourself watching cheese-making, silk ribbon weaving, embroidery or chocolate-making. The museum is also a focal point throughout the summer season for gatherings of yodellers and traditional Swiss wrestlers, who put on a spectacular show.
Above all, the museum will leave you impressed by the sheer diversity of Switzerland’s rural architecture and culture. From the meadows and orchards of the Jura, to the sheer slopes of the alpine regions – the Ballenberg Open Air Museum is in many ways a portrait of rural Switzerland in miniature, and all the incentive you need to venture out and continuing exploring the real thing.
The museum is open over the summer season from mid-April to the end of October between 10am and 5pm.
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