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May 27, 2023: Birthplace of the Confederation

After a week in Zurich, Liechtenstein, St. Gallen, Appenzell, and Schaffhausen, it was my last day in Switzerland. Since it was finally the weekend, my hosts Marilyn and Rafa were finally off from work and could go exploring with me! Rafa suggested we hike the Grosser Mythen, as it was one of the few peaks in the area that he has not yet climbed. 

Grosser Mythen is located south of Zurich in the canton of Schwyz and is considered to be the symbol of the canton. 

From Zurich, the drive took 1 hour. We started hiking at 9:15. While the peak looked formidable and steep, Rafa called it a hill because it was less than 2,000 meters tall (1898 m to be exact). And to be fair, in the distance are much taller peaks covered in snow. Those are mountains. 

From the parking lot, we would climb 800 vertical meters and it was estimated to take 2 hours.

The first part of the trail was a steady uphill. Nothing crazy. While I walk a lot in New York, it is flat and the hiking uphill hits slightly different muscles. Luckily, I had been hiking all week, so my legs were in decent shape.

45 minutes in, we reached a mountain hut where we stopped for coffee and pastries. Hiking in Europe is so refined!

Even from nearly halfway up, I struggled to see how a trail could reach the top of the hill.  As we approached the massif, I noticed an endless series of switchbacks clawing up an oh-so-steep slope on the backside. It was here where Rafa and Marilyn´s superior stair master skills revealed themselves and I was left in the dust. I made it to the top at 11:00, 15 minutes faster than expected including the breakfast stop! We crushed it. 

The IESE hiking crew

The views from the top were insane. To the west we could see Lake Lucerne and the famous Rigi mountain. To the south, the city of Schwyz and beyond it the Glarus Range. 

Also, there was somehow a gift shop on the summit with t-shirts!

We did not spend much time on the crowded summit before heading down. Rafa´s training in the Swiss Army made him an expert at descending mountains too! 

Back at the halfway hut, we ate lunch. While Marilyn and Rafa headed back to the car, they suggested I walk down the northern slopes of the hill and go into the town of Schwyz. The walk took me 90 minutes through beautiful forests. 

The town, while pristine, was also completely empty, which makes sense since this was the start of a holiday weekend. After visiting the church to rest my legs, I proceeded to visit the town museum…which unexpectedly was the best museum I visited in Switzerland and one of the best I’ve ever visited.

Center of Schwyz

The museum explained the early history of Switzerland. The cantons of Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalder (collectively known as the Forest Cantons) signed an agreement in 1291 for mutual defense. At the time the cantons were part of the Holy Roman Empire but enjoyed lots of autonomy. Eventually, they added on Lucerne, Zurich and Bern. By this point, their collective armies could compete with the Hapsburgs. The first test of this occurred in 1386 when the cantons defeated the Hapsburgs decisively in the Battle of Sempach, asserting the sovereignty of the Swiss and allowing further growth of the Confederacy. 

Replica of the founding documents of Switzerland. The actual documents are in the other museum.

The name Switzerland is derived from Schwyz (CH or Confoederatio Helvetia is the country´s Latin name) The Schwyz flag with its red background and mini cross is the basis of the Swiss national flag. 

Down the street is a museum that contains all of the founding documents of the early Swiss Confederation. This includes the 1291 agreement, which is known as THE founding document of the country along with the agreements adding each individual canton. Somehow, I was the only person in the museum and was completely alone with the documents. Truly surreal. 

The museum containing the actual documents

I then caught a train back to Zurich for a final night with friends before heading to Baden-Baden, Germany. 

Final Thoughts:

Any hiking in Switzerland is going to be good…including Grosser Mythen. 

While Schwyz itself is a very average town by Swiss standards, the two museums are among the best in the country and make it worth the trip from Zurich. 


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