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On the surface, Switzerland may seem all smooth chocolate, tasty cheeses and glorious mountaintops but beneath all that, there are plenty of odd and unusual sights to see that are off the beaten track.
H.R Giger Museum
Definitely not on the tourist trail is a museum dedicated to H.R Giger, the brain who gave us the dual-mouthed aliens in the Alien series. Found in the medieval cheese-making town of Gruyères, the museum is a fantastic, if not rather weird, trip through the brain of Giger.
H.R Giger Museum, Château St. Germain, Gruyères +41 26 921 22 00
The Heureka was built by Jean Tinguely, a Swiss sculptor with a sense of humour. His model, which to the untrained eye looks like a well-functioning machine, is actually completely useless.
Literally the raw art museum, the Collection de l’Art Brut contains some mind warping works that you are not likely to forget any time soon. That’s because its artwork is the creation of those on the ‘fringes of society’, or more specifically, inmates from psychiatric hospitals and criminally insane prisoners. What you’ll find are around 60,000 pieces of art that defy standard artistic practice and push the boundaries of the imagination to the extreme. Both fascinating and disturbing, this museum is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Collection de l’Art Brut, Avenue Bergières 11, Lausanne, +41 21 315 25 70
The Napeolonic wars gave us many things, like tinned food for instance, but it also gave us Estavayer-le-Lac’s Frog Museum. It’s all thanks to François Perrier, whose favourite hobby was capturing frogs in the country side, gutting them, stuffing the remains and posing them in everyday 19th century situations. At the frog museum, you’ll find 108 frogs playing cards, drinking beers and getting a nice trim at the hairdressers. It’s certainly odd, and strangely enough there are exhibits displaying Swiss military wear on show as well, mercifully without frogs.
Estavayer-le-Lac’s Frog Museum, Rue du Musée 13, Estavayer-le-Lac, +41 26 664 80 65
Tucked away in Geneva’s Cimetière des Rois is the gravestone of Jorge Luis Borges, arguably Latin America’s greatest author and one of the founding fathers of magical-realism. Borges began and ended his life in Geneva, and it was where he was exposed to tales in Old Norse and Old English, which would become the inspiration for many of his writings. The gravestone, like the man himself, is a bit of an enigma, with quotes from Borges’ own work and depictions of Viking and Norse lore shown on it. Fans from Argentina and beyond often make a pilgrimage to the site.
Cimetière des Rois, Rue des Rois, Genève, +41 22 329 21 29