• 001 - the logo.jpg
  • 002 - Hiroshima sunset.jpg
  • 003 - Auschwitz-Birkenau ramp.jpg
  • 004 - Chernobyl contamination.jpg
  • 005 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 006 - Berlin Wall madness.jpg
  • 007 - Bulgaria - monument at the bottom of Buzludzhy park hill.jpg
  • 008 - Ijen crater.jpg
  • 009 - Aralsk, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 010 - Paris catacombs.jpg
  • 011 - Krakatoa.jpg
  • 012 - Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Hanoi.jpg
  • 013 - Uyuni.jpg
  • 014 - DMZ Vietnam.jpg
  • 015 - Colditz Kopie.jpg
  • 016 - Glasgow Necropolis.jpg
  • 017 - Hashima ghost island.jpg
  • 018 - Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 019 - Arlington.jpg
  • 020 - Karosta prison.jpg
  • 021 - Kamikaze.jpg
  • 022 - Chacabuco ghost town.jpg
  • 023 - Eagle's Nest, Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden.jpg
  • 024 - Kursk.jpg
  • 025 - Bran castle, Carpathia, Romania.jpg
  • 026 - Bestattungsmuseum Wien.jpg
  • 027 - Pripyat near Chernobyl.jpg
  • 028 - Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 029 - Pyramida Lenin.jpg
  • 030 - Falklands.jpg
  • 031 - Majdanek.jpg
  • 032 - Soufriere volcano, Montserrat.jpg
  • 033 - moai on Easter Island.jpg
  • 034 - Sidoarjo.jpg
  • 035 - Hötensleben.jpg
  • 036 - Natzweiler.jpg
  • 037 - Polygon, Semipalatinsk test site, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 038 - Srebrenica.jpg
  • 039 - Liepaja, Latvia.jpg
  • 040 - Vemork hydroelectric power plant building, Norway.jpg
  • 041 - Enola Gay.jpg
  • 042 - Pentagon 9-11 memorial.jpg
  • 043 - Robben Island prison, South Africa.jpg
  • 044 - Tollund man.jpg
  • 045 - Marienthal tunnel.jpg
  • 046 - Aso, Japan.jpg
  • 047 - Labrador battery Singapore.jpg
  • 048 - Artyom island, Absheron, Azerbaijan.jpg
  • 049 - Treblinka.jpg
  • 050 - Titan II silo.jpg
  • 051 - dosemetering doll, Chernobyl.jpg
  • 052 - Holocaust memorial, Berlin.jpg
  • 053 - Komodo dragon.jpg
  • 054 - cemeterio general, Santiago de Chile.jpg
  • 055 - Tuol Sleng, Phnom Phen, Cambodia.jpg
  • 056 - West Virginia penitentiary.jpg
  • 057 - ovens, Dachau.jpg
  • 058 - Derry, Northern Ireland.jpg
  • 059 - Bulgaria - Buzludzha - workers of all countries unite.jpg
  • 060 - Sachsenhausen.jpg
  • 061 - Tiraspol dom sovietov.jpg
  • 062 - modern-day Pompeii - Plymouth, Montserrat.jpg
  • 063 - Pico de Fogo.jpg
  • 064 - Trinity Day.jpg
  • 065 - Zwentendorf control room.jpg
  • 066 - Wolfschanze.jpg
  • 067 - Hiroshima by night.jpg
  • 068 - mass games, North Korea.jpg
  • 069 - Harrisburg.jpg
  • 070 - Nuremberg.jpg
  • 071 - Mostar.jpg
  • 072 - Tu-22, Riga aviation museum.jpg
  • 073 - Gallipoli, Lone Pine.jpg
  • 074 - Auschwitz-Birkenau - fence.jpg
  • 075 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 076 - Atatürk Mausoleum, Ankara.jpg
  • 077 - Banda Aceh boats.jpg
  • 078 - AMARG.jpg
  • 079 - Chacabuco ruins.jpg
  • 080 - Bucharest.jpg
  • 081 - Bernauer Straße.jpg
  • 082 - Death Railway, Thailand.jpg
  • 083 - Mandor killing fields.jpg
  • 084 - Kozloduy.jpg
  • 085 - Jerusalem.jpg
  • 086 - Latin Bridge, Sarajevo.jpg
  • 087 - Panmunjom, DMZ, Korea.jpg
  • 088 - Ijen blue flames.jpg
  • 089 - Derry reconsilliation monument.jpg
  • 090 - Ebensee.jpg
  • 091 - Mödlareuth barbed wire.jpg
  • 092 - skull heaps in Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 093 - Nikel.jpg
  • 094 - Fukushima-Daiichi NPP.jpg
  • 095 - Tital launch control centre.jpg
  • 096 - Dallas Dealy Plaza and Sixth Floor Museum.jpg
  • 097 - Auschwitz I.jpg
  • 098 - Stalin and Lenin, Tirana, Albania.jpg
  • 099 - Malta, Fort St Elmo.jpg
  • 100 - Peenemünde.jpg
  • 101 - Tarrafal.jpg
  • 102 - Kilmainham prison, Dublin.jpg
  • 103 - North Korea.jpg
  • 104 - Mittelbau-Dora.jpg
  • 105 - St Helena.jpg
  • 106 - Stutthof, Poland.jpg
  • 107 - Merapi destruction.jpg
  • 108 - Chueung Ek killing fields, Cambodia.jpg
  • 109 - Marienborn former GDR border.jpg
  • 110 - Mig and star, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 111 - Nagasaki WWII tunnels.jpg
  • 112 - Hellfire Pass, Thailand.jpg
  • 113 - Kiev.jpg
  • 114 - Grutas Park, Lithuania.jpg
  • 115 - Zwentendorf reactor core.jpg
  • 116 - two occupations, Tallinn.jpg
  • 117 - Trunyan burial site.jpg
  • 118 - Ushuaia prison.jpg
  • 119 - Buchenwald.jpg
  • 120 - Marienthal with ghost.jpg
  • 121 - Murmansk harbour - with an aircraft carrier.jpg
  • 122 - Berlin Olympiastadion.JPG
  • 123 - Bastille Day, Paris.jpg
  • 124 - Spassk.jpg
  • 125 - Theresienstadt.jpg
  • 126 - B-52s.jpg
  • 127 - Bledug Kuwu.jpg
  • 128 - Friedhof der Namenlosen, Vienna.jpg
  • 129 - Auschwitz-Birkenau barracks.jpg
  • 130 - mummies, Bolivia.jpg
  • 131 - Barringer meteor crater.jpg
  • 132 - Murambi, Rwanda.jpg
  • 133 - NTS.jpg
  • 134 - Mauthausen Soviet monument.jpg
  • 135 - pullution, Kazakhstan.JPG
  • 136 - palm oil madness.jpg
  • 137 - Berlin socialist realism.jpg
  • 138 - Okawa school building ruin.jpg
  • 139 - Pawiak, Warsaw.jpg
  • 140 - flying death, military museum Dresden.JPG
  • 141 - KGB gear.JPG
  • 142 - KZ jacket.JPG
  • 143 - ex-USSR.JPG
  • 144 - Indonesia fruit bats.JPG
  • 145 - Alcatraz.JPG
  • 146 - Chernobyl Museum, Kiev, Ukraine.JPG
  • 147 - Halemaumau lava lake glow, Hawaii.JPG
  • 148 - Rosinenbomber at Tempelhof, Berlin.jpg
  • 149 - Verdun, France.JPG
  • 150 - hospital, Vukovar, Croatia.JPG
  • 151 - the original tomb of Napoleon, St Helena.JPG
  • 152 - Buchenwald, Germany.JPG
  • 153 - Bhopal.JPG
  • 154 - Groß-Rosen, Poland.jpg
  • 155 - at Monino, Russia.jpg
  • 156 - blinking Komodo.jpg
  • 157 - inside Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 158 - Mount St Helens, USA.JPG
  • 159 - Maly Trostenec, Minsk, Belarus.jpg
  • 160 - Vucedol skulls, Croatia.JPG
  • 161 - colourful WW1 shells.JPG
  • 162 - Zeljava airbase in Croatia.JPG
  • 163 - rusting wrecks, Chernobyl.JPG
  • 164 - San Bernadine alle Ossa, Milan, Italy.jpg
  • 165 - USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.JPG
  • 166 - Brest Fortress, Belarus.JPG
  • 167 - thousands of bats, Dom Rep.JPG
  • 168 - Hohenschönhausen, Berlin.JPG
  • 169 - Perm-36 gulag site.JPG
  • 170 - Jasenovac, Croatia.JPG
  • 171 - Beelitz Heilstätten.JPG
  • 172 - Kremlin, Moscow.jpg
  • 173 - old arms factory, Dubnica.JPG
  • 174 - Pervomaisc ICBM base, more  missiles, including an SS-18 Satan.jpg
  • 175 - Cellular Jail, Port Blair.jpg
  • 177 - control room, Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 178 - Podgorica, Montenegro, small arms and light weapons sculpture.jpg
  • 179 - Vught.jpg
  • 180 - Japanese cave East Timor.jpg
  • 181 - Ani.jpg
  • 182 - Indonesia wildfire.jpg
  • 183 - Chacabuco big sky.jpg
  • 184 - Bunker Valentin, Germany.JPG
  • 185 - Lest we Forget, Ypres.JPG
  • 186 - the logo again.jpg

Switzerland

  
Switzerland 01   Swiss compositionWhat? Switzerland and dark tourism? The same Switzerland as in the little Alpine country mostly associated with neutrality, peace, prosperity and democracy?!?
 
Yes, even clichéd Switzerland is not as pure as it may seem. For instance, democracy may have enjoyed a longer tradition here than in most other countries, but then again: was it really full democracy? Consider this: Switzerland only gave women the right to vote as late as 1971 – many decades after it had become perfectly normal in virtually any other developed country – and in one of its cantons (regions constituting the federation) it took until 1990 for this to be actually implemented. And the prosperity? That too has its darker sides, as we know – in the case of Switzerland the worst dark association being that with  Nazi gold in WWII.
 
And what about peacefulness? Yes, the country hasn't been (militarily) involved in any war in centuries. However, it is nonetheless a surprisingly military-intense country, with compulsory military service for all male citizens and the (controversial) requirement that as reservists they must keep their army-issued guns at home. Furthermore, large fortresses were dug into the mountains for defensive purposes. Some of these subterranean cavern systems now function as conference centres or for storage of data … or in one case cheese!
 
And then there's the nuclear bunkers. Between 1963 and the end of the Cold War, every newly built house had to have one in the basement (today this applies only for large buildings with over 38 apartments). All in all, Switzerland is unique in having more places in its private and communal bunkers/fallout shelters than its population needs (a 114% capacity – according to swissinfo.ch, "Bunkers for all", 7/2009). And while the Big Powers excelled at stocking overkill nuclear arsenals, the Swiss over-excelled at over-protection. This includes the world’s once largest fallout shelter (in Lucerne).
 
There are at least a couple of former bunkers that have been redeveloped as hotels … One of them, marketed as a "zero star" hotel, has recently had to close again, however, but is to function as a museum in the future.
    
The Alps of Switzerland also have their own dark elements, especially a few particularly difficult and hence dangerous to climb mountains that have claimed many lives, such as the Matterhorn and the Eiger.
  
These are the places in Switzerland that have their own separate chapters on this website:
  
  
  
  
 
  
Another darkish pilgrimage site of sorts is the HR Giger Museum in the small town of Gruyère in the region of Gruyère (also known for its cheese of the same name) in the French-speaking canton of Fribourg. The Swiss artist, painter and sculptor, Hans Ruedi Giger, usually spelled with initials, either HR or H.R., rose to international fame in particular through his design of the extraterrestrial monster in the 1979 Sci-Fi horror movie “Alien” directed by Ridley Scott. His “biomechanical” style blending machines with (often erotic) human elements is still influential. The museum has many works by the artist. Photography inside is forbidden, but as a patron in the adjacent HR Giger Bar you are free to take pictures of the Giger-style interior design (see in the photo gallery below).
  
On my summer 2020 Switzerland trip I also stumbled upon some surprise dark elements on my excursion to Lucerne, e.g. the skulls on display outside the Lucerne History Museum and the “Danse Macabre” paintings inside the city’s iconic Chapel Bridge, the southern end of which still shows charred parts from a fire in 1993.
  
Other than to Lucerne, Gruyères, Zürich and Zermatt, that trip also took me to Interlaken, whose central location makes it a good base for various excursions to the Berner Oberland … and of course the fabled Jungfraubahn.
   
 
As a travel destination in general, Switzerland is one of the best developed countries you could possibly imagine. Public transport is formidable – even up into the high Alps, namely by means of an efficient, clean railway network. It's also multilingual – and even train staff do not only speak the country's four languages (German, French, Italian, Romansh), but English on top. If you are using trains a lot, it’s worth considering a Swiss Travel Pass, which allows unlimited travel on all standard trains and overland buses as well as varying reductions (usually between 25% and 50%) on many private mountain railways, cable cars and even boats on various lakes, as well as free public transport in most towns and cities, plus free entry to hundreds of museums. These passes are available for 3, 4, 6, 8, or 15 consecutive days and cost between ca. 250 to a bit over 400 CHF (2nd class; 1st costs around 40% more).
 
Being so centrally located in Europe also makes the country as such easily reachable, by all modes of transport – surprisingly, for a landlocked country, this even includes waterways with boats providing a means of transport, namely on Lake Geneva and Lake Constance (from France and Germany, respectively). The main international airport of Switzerland is Zürich’s.
 
Being an affluent country, however, price levels are predictably high, not only for transport but also for accommodation and food & drink, though with a bit of preplanning and/or looking around it needn't be crippling.
 
Food-wise, Switzerland is rightly famous for its cheese and chocolate, both amongst the best in the world. And both find their way into the national cuisine, with raclette and fondue being the best-known. Another famous staple, rösti, is also both well known and widely available. Thanks to these specialities, vegetarians also fare a lot better here than in neighbouring France, Germany or Austria (though it's still hardly health food). Regional specialities go beyond the expected and are well worth exploring too.
And then there's the wine – not much of it sees export, so it's not that well known. But it can be superb – and since most of it is consumed within the country, enjoy it while you're there. In the supermarkets it’s not even so much more expensive than in neighbouring countries, though in restaurants the markup can be painfully high.
  
The craft beer revolution has also arrived in Switzerland, but again expect to pay steep prices for this pleasure.
    
Tap water is perfectly palatable and can indeed be superb thanks to the Alps and its glaciers and snowmelt water.

   
  • Switzerland 01 - Swiss compositionSwitzerland 01 - Swiss composition
  • Switzerland 02 - high AlpsSwitzerland 02 - high Alps
  • Switzerland 03 - above the cloudsSwitzerland 03 - above the clouds
  • Switzerland 04 - the shrinking Gorner Glacier and Monte RosaSwitzerland 04 - the shrinking Gorner Glacier and Monte Rosa
  • Switzerland 05 - wide-angle shot of the Aletsch GlacierSwitzerland 05 - wide-angle shot of the Aletsch Glacier
  • Switzerland 06 - clouds are coming inSwitzerland 06 - clouds are coming in
  • Switzerland 07 - mountaineersSwitzerland 07 - mountaineers
  • Switzerland 08 - public transport in the high AlpsSwitzerland 08 - public transport in the high Alps
  • Switzerland 09 - the tree line and a steep AlmSwitzerland 09 - the tree line and a steep Alm
  • Switzerland 10 - thin waterfallSwitzerland 10 - thin waterfall
  • Switzerland 11 - Trümmelbach Falls inside a mountainSwitzerland 11 - Trümmelbach Falls inside a mountain
  • Switzerland 12 - Schynige PlatteSwitzerland 12 - Schynige Platte
  • Switzerland 13 - reached by a century-old electric trainSwitzerland 13 - reached by a century-old electric train
  • Switzerland 14 - powered by cog wheelsSwitzerland 14 - powered by cog wheels
  • Switzerland 15 - cow with bellSwitzerland 15 - cow with bell
  • Switzerland 16 - looking down on InterlakenSwitzerland 16 - looking down on Interlaken
  • Switzerland 17 - evening mood in InterlakenSwitzerland 17 - evening mood in Interlaken
  • Switzerland 18 - Interlaken and the Alps by nightSwitzerland 18 - Interlaken and the Alps by night
  • Switzerland 19 - Alpine gorgeSwitzerland 19 - Alpine gorge
  • Switzerland 20 - AlphornSwitzerland 20 - Alphorn
  • Switzerland 21 - bronze Steinbock sculptureSwitzerland 21 - bronze Steinbock sculpture
  • Switzerland 22 - Lucerne classic viewSwitzerland 22 - Lucerne classic view
  • Switzerland 23 - dark paintingsSwitzerland 23 - dark paintings
  • Switzerland 24 - charredSwitzerland 24 - charred
  • Switzerland 25 - unexpected skulls in LucerneSwitzerland 25 - unexpected skulls in Lucerne
  • Switzerland 26 - GruyeresSwitzerland 26 - Gruyeres
  • Switzerland 27 - GruyeresSwitzerland 27 - Gruyeres
  • Switzerland 28 - Gruyeres CastleSwitzerland 28 - Gruyeres Castle
  • Switzerland 29 -  kitchen inside Gruyeres CastleSwitzerland 29 - kitchen inside Gruyeres Castle
  • Switzerland 30 - HR Giger Bar in GruyeresSwitzerland 30 - HR Giger Bar in Gruyeres
  • Switzerland 31 - HR Giger designsSwitzerland 31 - HR Giger designs
  • Switzerland 32 - evening lightSwitzerland 32 - evening light
  • Switzerland 33 - blessed be the cheese makersSwitzerland 33 - blessed be the cheese makers
  • Switzerland 34 - racletteSwitzerland 34 - raclette
  • Switzerland 35 - cheese fondueSwitzerland 35 - cheese fondue
  • Switzerland 36 - Swiss souvenirsSwitzerland 36 - Swiss souvenirs
  • Switzerland 37 - very un-Swiss - all but one locker out of order and the single working one is already occupiedSwitzerland 37 - very un-Swiss - all but one locker out of order and the single working one is already occupied
 
  
  
  
  

© dark-tourism.com, Peter Hohenhaus 2009-2022

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