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The Bürgenstock (centre-right) from the Pilatus
Elevation 1,128 m (3,701 ft)
Prominence 683 m (2,241 ft)[1]
Location in Switzerland
Location Nidwalden/Lucerne, Switzerland
Range Urner Alps

47°00′01.19″N 8°23′55.24″E / 47.0003306°N 8.3986778°E / 47.0003306; 8.3986778Coordinates: 47°00′01.19″N 8°23′55.24″E / 47.0003306°N 8.3986778°E / 47.0003306; 8.3986778

Easiest route elevator

The Bürgenstock is a famous mountain in Switzerland (1,127.8 m above sea level) located on the eponymous peninsula Bürgenstock, in the middle of Lake Lucerne. Bürgenstock is also a famous village located at 874 m a.s.l. on the same mountain. The lookout point at the summit of the Bürgenstock offers an extraordinarily beautiful and famous view, for the mountain is almost entirely surrounded by Lake Lucerne.

The peninsula, the mountain and the village Bürgenstock are among the most visited tourist destinations in Switzerland.

The small resort town of "Bürgenstock" can be reached by a mountain road as well as with the Bürgenstock Funicular which starts from the boat landing pier at Kehrsiten-Bürgenstock on Lake Lucerne. The summit of the Bürgenstock can be reached from the village by means of a cliff-side path followed by the famous Hammetschwand Elevator.

In the glamorous world of cinema and culture of the 20th century, the peninsula Bürgenstock achieved worldwide fame as a retreat and holiday place for well-known actors, producers and artists. Among others reasons, the village of Bürgenstock became famous in the media because Audrey Hepburn married Mel Ferrer at the Bürgenstock Chapel in 1954. Sophia Loren, her husband Carlo Ponti and also Audrey Hepburn housed in private villas on the Bürgenstock.

Famous artists who spent their holidays on the peninsula include Charlie Chaplin, Sergej Rachmaninow, Georges Simenon, Shirley MacLaine, and Yul Brynner. A number of politicians, like Konrad Adenauer, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Kofi Annan and Golda Meir, as well as prominent personalities from the business world, came in search of rest and leisure on the Bürgenstock.


When looked at from Lucerne, the Bürgenstock has the typical mountain shape of a "stock".[2] Especially in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the term "stock" is used for a number of mountains whose shape of summits is clearly set off from the bulk.[3]

Beside the Bürgenstock there are also other Swiss mountains that carry the distinction of "stock" (stick) in their names to describe their shape, such as the Oberalpstock, the Hausstock and the Mürtschenstock (Canton Glarus), the Fronalpstock, the Uri Rotstock, the Dammastock (Canton Uri) and the Mattstock (Canton St. Gallen).

Like its existing namesakes, the term Bürgenstock, composed of the descriptive words "Bürgen" and "Stock", has evolved since the mid-19th century into the geographical name for the very distinctive mountain on the "Bürgen" peninsula as seen from Lucerne.

From the early Middle Ages on, the mountain on this peninsula was called Bürgenberg; an arbitral settlement from the year 1378, putting an end to over 38 years of dispute between the estates Lucerne and Nidwalden about the affiliation of the region extending from Kehrsiten to Mattgrat, uses the name Bürgenberg in its records.

All old maps and frontier records of the Corporation of Lucerne which mention the – in those times – disputed forest call it the Stadtwald am Bürgenberg (forest on the Bürgenberg) or Bürgenbergwald (Bürgenstock mountain forest).[4]

On the Dufourkarte (Dufour Map), the topographic map of Switzerland from 1845 to 1865,[5] the mountain ridge as a whole had no name. The highest crest was referred to as Hametschwand (sic), Bürgenberg was the term inscribed for the slope to the mountain crest on the far Southwest

The geographical name Bürgenstock was first documented in the year 1836 by Aloys Businger in his book “Der Kanton Unterwalden”. Businger calls the entire Bürgen peninsula the Bürgenberg; however, he refers to the highest elevation both as Hammetschwand and Bürgenstock.[6][7]

In addition, in the year 1850, the Director of the Lucerne Teacher's Training College Niklaus Rietschi published a private map, in which the terms Bürgenstock together with the term Hammetschwand are recorded for the summit.[8]

In 1872, the company Bucher & Durrer laid the foundation for the hotel complex on the Alp Tritt. For this purpose, it chose the already existing geographical name of Bürgenstock, also documented in 1836 by Aloys Businger in his book “Der Kanton Unterwalden”.[9]

The first official map to use the geographical name Bürgenstock was the so-called “Siegfriedkarte” Siegfried Map, whose publication, started by the Federal Topographic Bureau under Hermann Siegfried,[10] continued from 1870 until 1922. The name Bürgenstock appears on sheet 377 of the Siegfried Map and dates back to 1896.[11]

Around 1900, the designation Bürgenstock established itself as a general colloquial term for the entire mountain ridge, from Stansstad in the West to "Untere Nase" in the East. A corresponding entry in the "Geographischen Lexikon der Schweiz" (Geographical Dictionary of Switzerland) can be found in 1910.[12]

In the Swiss maps of our days, the name Bürgenstock designates the mountain ridge – with the term Hammetschwand as alternative – as well as the location of the hotel and residential complex. Bürgenstock as a geographical name can be found twice in the official Swiss index of cities and towns.[13] The locality Bürgenstock is listed in the postal code listing of Switzerland under the postal code 6363.[14] Today, the residential streets of the valley communities Stansstad and Ennetbürgen, connecting the entire mountain ridge, carry the name Bürgenstockstrasse.

Geographical situation

The Bürgenstock is a mountain ridge that stretches over 10 km and is surrounded to the North, East and South-East by Lake Lucerne. The northern slope drops very steeply into the lake. On and at the bottom of the southern slope is the township of Ennetbürgen; Stansstad is situated at the bottom of the western end. For the most part, the mountain belongs to the community of Ennetbürgen in the canton of Kanton Nidwalden. The western part belongs to the community of Stansstad. A part of the northern steep drop into the Lake is an exclave of the city of Luzern (Exklave Bürgenstock)[15]).


Geologically, the Bürgenstock belongs to the foothills of the Pilatus and the Helvetic border chain. The rocks are from the Cretaceous and Tertiary. Below the Hammetschwand, the following layers can be distinguished on the north side: siliceous limestone, Drusberg layers (forming a forest belt), bright Schrattenkalk limestone with orbitolina layers overlaid by Seewerkalk limestone.

Above this there is a transgression of Assilina green sand and Nummulitic limestone of the Lutetian age , which is found mainly on the southern downward slope with its gentler incline.[16]

In the Ice Age, the Bürgenstock was completely covered by an ice stream which flowed from the Gotthard into the foothills of the Alps. Abrasion marks left by the ice on the limestone are found including in the highest altitudes. Large granite boulders which were transported by the ice from the Gotthard, are distributed over the whole mountain, as for example an 18 m3 large, round specimen on a steep slope on the Allwägli land reserve, which in 1949 was placed under protection. After the regression of the ice, the Bürgenstock was at first an island in Lake Lucerne. In the course of a few thousand years, however, the Engelberger Aa River filled up the area between the Engelberger valley entrance and the Bürgenstock with sediments, creating today's flat valley between the townships Ennetbürgen, Buochs, Stans and Stansstad.


The Bürgenstock accommodates several luxury hotels and a conference centre, and has been a popular holiday place since as far back as 1872. The hotels can be reached by a mountain road, by bus from Stansstad or, in the summer months from April to October, with the Bürgenstock funicular from the boat pier at Kehrsiten. Europe's highest outdoor elevator, the Hammteschwand Lift, is located on the Bürgenstock. It connects the beautiful scenic cliff path with the lookout point at Hammetschwand, from where a spectacular view of Lake Lucerne and the surrounding mountains can be enjoyed.

In 1871, Franz Josef Bucher-Durrer, who was 37 at the time, bought the Alp Tritt on the Bürgenstock. The Grand Hotel and the connecting road down to Stansstad were built. The Grand Hotel was opened in 1873, followed in 1874 by the Dépendence. In 1887, he built the Bürgenstock funicular railway, the small hydroelectric power plant at the timber bridge Fadenbrücke in Buochs as well as, in 1888, the Park Hotel. The Bürgenstock railway is said to be the oldest electric funicular railway in Switzerland and is supplied with power from the hydroelectric power station. In 1904 the Palace Hotel was also added. After the death of Bucher-Durrer in 1906, his sons Fritz and Arnold took over. In 1925, the engineer Friedrich Frey-Fürst acquired the hotels and associated enterprises. Friedrich Frey-Fürst died in 1953, and his son Fritz Frey took charge. Under his direction, various structural and infrastructural changes were made.

In 1997, the Frey family sold the entire complex, with exception of the Bürgenstock Chapel and adjacent private residential buildings. In the summer of 2000, the hotels first became part of the Swiss Rosebud Heritage Group. Since 2007, its owner and investor is the Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Company from Qatar. Their planning envisages modern infrastructures for conferences, meetings and incentives with hotel accommodation, traditional hotel tourism in the summer months, year-round local and day-trip tourism, health and medical wellness as well as residences with hotel service. The new Bürgenstock Resort will have a total amount of approximately 400 rooms. 350 jobs and many apprenticeship positions are planned. The resort is designed as a car-free pedestrian zone. The investment volume amounts to approximately 400 million Swiss francs. Additional 25 million Swiss francs have been invested in the renovation of the Honegg Hotel. It was re-opened in 2011.[17]


At the beginning of 2002, the parties involved in South Sudan's civil war signed the Bürgenstock Agreement on the Bürgenstock.

In spring 2004, Bürgenstock was site to negotiations between Turkish and Greek Cypriots on the issue of accession to the EU.


The 19th century Bürgenstock Chapel is located in immediate vicinity of the hotels and at the beginning of the cliff path on the Bürgenstock. It is still owned by the former hotelier family Frey who left their mark on the Bürgenstock hotels from 1925 to 1997, as well as the non-profit Frey-Fürst Foundation. The Bürgenstock Chapel is a replica of the chapel of St. Jost which lies on the slopes of the Bürgenstock Mountain on the territory of the township of Ennetbürgen and is the oldest Gothic sanctuary in the Swiss canton of Nidwaldens. The Bürgenstock Chapel was built in 1897 under the orders of Countess Tancrède de la Baume, née Pozzo di Borgo, who had set up her summer residence in the hotel village on the Bürgenstock. Among other things, she had an ornate wooden, polychrome Gothic ceiling reproduced in detail in the chapel. Further elements of interior design and decoration are also replicas from the 17th century and are from different churches in Switzerland. The sculpture "Dance of Death" by the Swiss sculptor Hans Jörg Limbach (1928-1990) is located directly next to the chapel. The Bürgenstock Chapel also became famous because of the wedding of actress Audrey Hepburn with Mel Ferrer in 1954.

The rich cultural tradition established in the 19th and 20th centuries on the Bürgenstock is continued today by several private and independent cultural organisations:

On 13 November 2009, the "Bürgenstock Kunst- und Kulturstiftung" (Bürgenstock Foundation of Art and Culture) - located in Ennetbürgen - was founded to preserve historical furniture and antiques from the hotels built in the 19th century on the Bürgenstock.[18]

The "Stiftung Bürgenstock Momente" (Foundation Bürgenstock Moments) was created on 11 May 2012 with the aim of implementing cultural events and concerts, also at the historic site of the Bürgenstock Chapel. Under the direction of Peter Frey – a descendant of the former hotelier family – the Stiftung Bürgenstock Momente has its seat directly in the village of Bürgenstock and attracts music fans from around the world to the Bürgenstock, with its yearly week of classical music called "Carnival of the Stradivari", amongst others.[19]


External links

  • Hammetschwand Elevator
  • Bürgenstock Funicular
  • Golf Club Bürgenstock
  • Bürgenstock on Hikr
  • Foundation Bürgenstock Moments
  • Villa Honegg
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