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Bern's Bundeshaus | © Violetta/ Pixabay
Bern's Bundeshaus | © Violetta/ Pixabay

The 12 Most Beautiful Buildings in Switzerland

Picture of Sean Mowbray
Updated: 25 September 2017

From picturesque castles to sombre religious buildings, it’s guaranteed that you’ll find beautiful buildings in abundance across Switzerland. Here, we’ve brought together 12 of the most stunning landmarks, each one offering something unique. 

Lausanne’s Cathedral

Lausanne is a beautiful city. One of the highlights is the Cathedral which lies at the heart of the city. The cathedral is considered to be Switzerland’s most beautiful piece of Gothic architecture. Its fascinating interior is also to be admired, of particular note is the stained glass rose window – an original 13th century masterpiece depicting the four seasons. The building was never truly completed and sections remain unfinished to this day.

Place de la Cathédrale, Lausanne

Batiment des Forces Motrices (Geneva)

Once a waterworks in the centre of the Rhône river, the Batiment des Forces Motrices is now a cultural centre, featuring art and performances year round. It is also one of the most dramatic buildings in Geneva, particularly as night falls and it is lit up. Take a stroll along the Pont de la Coulouvrenière for the best views.

Place des Volontaires 2, Genève, +41 22 322 12 20

Kapellbrücke (Lucerne)

The highlight of Lucerne is the Kapellbrücke, or the Chapel Bridge, across the Reuss river. This aged old wooden covered bridge is actually the oldest of its kind in Europe. Walking along its interior, you’ll be treated to paintings in triangular panels that depict moments from Lucerne’s history, many of them with a religious tilt.

Kapellbrücke, 6002 Luzern

Abbey of St. Gallen

The Abbey of St. Gallen was once one of the most important religious buildings in the whole of Europe. Today, it retains a high status as the keeper of one of the world’s oldest libraries. The building is centuries old and has seen several phases of rebuilding, the latest which we can see today is Baroque style.

Klosterhof 6B, St. Gallen

Bundeshaus (Bern)

The Bundeshaus in Bern is home to the Swiss Parliament, as well as the Federal Government. Both the exterior, with its large domed roof and the interior are dramatic works of art. In the central hall are beautiful paintings that illustrate pivotal moments from Swiss history. The building is open to the public as part of a guided tour while the Parliament square is where you’ll find Bern’s weekly market.

Bundeshaus, Bundesplatz, Bern, +41 (0)31 322 85 22

Grossmünster (Zurich)

The Grossmünster is one of the iconic sights of Zurich and its unmistakable twin towers are visible from all across the city. Its origins are steeped in myth and as with Geneva’s cathedral, the Grossmünster’s austere interior is a result of its part in the Protestant Reformation that swept across the country. Enjoy exploring this and other highlights of Zurich on this architectural walking tour.

Grossmünster, Grossmünsterplatz, Zürich, Switzerland, +41 44 250 66 51

Santa Maria degli Angeli chapel

Designed by architectural genius Mario Botta, the Santa Maria degli Angeli chapel is quite unlike any religious building you’ll have ever seen. The chapel is built at the foot of nearby Monte Tamaro and a long footbridge is the gateway, leading you down open stone staircases and corridors with carefully crafted portholes.

Rivera, +41 91 946 23 03

St. Pierre Cathedral (Geneva)

Wandering through Geneva’s Old Town, you’ll inevitably come across the St. Pierre Cathedral. The centuries old structure is a blend of architectural styles, but the most striking feature is perhaps the stoic interior. From the 16th century, the church was part of the Reformed Church – John Calvin preached from here – that stripped back the lavish decoration to leave a dramatic yet plain beauty. Climb the Cathedral’s towers for great views of the city.

Place du Bourg-de-Four 24, Genève

Kloster Einsiedeln

One of the highlights of any trip to Central Switzerland is a visit to the small village of Einsiedeln and its impressive thousand-year-old abbey that dominates the main square. The abbey was reconstructed during the 18th century in an imposing baroque design. Visit during the Einsiedeln Christmas market to truly appreciate the building’s grandeur.

Kloster Einsiedeln, Einsiedeln, +41 (0)55 418 61 11

Tarasp Castle

Perched precariously on a rocky peak, Tarasp Castle offers another of Switzerland’s fairy tale experiences. It’s all white walls and dominant position overlooking the nearby town, meaning that you can admire it from afar. You can step into a medieval world, full of refurbished, candlelit dining halls and shimmering knight’s armour, by making the climb up to the castle gates on a visit.

Sparsels, 7553 Scuol, +41 81 864 93 68

Chillon Castle (Montreux)

Undoubtedly the most beautiful building is Chillon Castle near the resort town of Montreux. Perched on a rocky outcrop on Lac Léman, the castle is picture perfect and sits against a dramatic backdrop of the Alps and Jura mountains. In its illustrious past, the castle served as a defensive outpost, holiday resort for medieval Barons and a state prison before becoming Switzerland’s most visited historical building in modern times.

Chillon Castle, Avenue de Chillon 21, Veytaux, Switzerland, +41 21 966 89 10

Roman amphitheatre (Avenches)

Standing the test of time, the Roman amphitheatre in the town of Avenches has lasted over 2,000 years. The beautiful structure still finds use today and hosts annual events such as the Swiss military Tatoo and an Opera Festival.