The Swiss Spectator deals with history and culture of Switzerland, a beautiful and remarkable country with a solid business environment, a relatively well-functioning democracy and rule of law. The Spectator aims to put Switzerland into the perspective of surrounding regions, in particular in Northern Italy (Valley of Aoste, Lombardy and Piemonte), Eastern France (Franche-Comté, Alsace and Savoie) and Southern Germany (the Lake Constance (Bodensee) region in particular). These regions have always played an important role in Swiss history and culture and are relevant to having a good understanding of the country. Four periods and subjects are of particular importance. The Roman Empire is covered from the perspective of romanization. The Middle Ages cover the time from the Kingdoms of Burgundy to the coming into being of Switzerland in the thirteenth century. The long nineteenth century covers the period from 1815 until about 1918 and the last subject deals with multicultural and cosmopolitan Switzerland. The rubrics news and newsletters cover these issues. There is also an overview of museums, cultural events and topical projects. Attention is also paid to the relationship between Switzerland and the European Union.

The Roman Empire and Romanization

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This section deals with the so-called ‘romanization’ of Switzerland compared to the above regions. These territories have a different development of romanization and the aim is to research the differences and similarities. The concept ‘romanization’ is disputed, but it means in so many words the adoption of Roman culture by the conquered peoples in the occupied territories. Switzerland is of great interest because of its central location and (mountain) roads, rivers and lakes from south to north and from west to east Europe.

The Middle Ages, Arts and State Building

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Switzerland experienced the gradual disintegration of the western part of the Roman Empire from the third century and the collapse in the fifth century. The region underwent invasions by German peoples, the rise of Frankish kings, the Carolingian Empire, the Burgundian, Habsburg and Savoie dynasties, The Holy Roman Empire, Christianity, cities, trade, Roman an Gothic art and the beginning of the Swiss nation in the thirteenth century, the time limit of this section.

The long nineteenth century 1815-1918

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Switzerland got its present borders after the Napoleonic wars. This was not self-evident, but the result of the Vienna Congress and the choice of the Cantons in 1815. Switzerland succeeded in uniting different economies, regions, histories, cultures and languages. This sections puts Switzerland into the European perspective of industrialization, culture, tourism, parliamentary democracy, massa communication, transport, population growth and education.

Multicultural and Cosmopolitan Switzerland

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A special point of attention is the development of German, French and Italian regions of Switzerland. The raeto-Roman culture will also be addressed. The Roman Empire is the starting point of this topic. Was the different romanization in western and eastern Switzerland decisive or rather the rise of powerful German speaking cities and the Holy Roman Empire in the later Middles Ages. What is the role and significance of the French Kingdom, the Duchy of Savoie and the Kingdoms and Duchies of Burgundy for example?

European Affairs

The Europeanization of Switzerland

Europe is a name given by the Greeks to a region or continent that stretches from the Ural in the east to Ireland (or Iceland) in the west, and from Scandinavia in the north to Italy in the south. The societies, cultures and languages of the continent have always been highly diverse. Greeks and Romans … Read more » “The Europeanization of Switzerland”


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Latest news

The Old Media Strike Back in Zurich

The Graphic Art Collection (Graphische Sammlung ETH Zürich) will be celebrating its 150th anniversary. Twelve years after the founding of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1855, it was inaugurated as a classic collection for study and teaching purposes for aspiring art historians, archaeologists and architects. It is a typical, but magnificent university collection … Read more » “The Old Media Strike Back in Zurich”


Three men from the cantons of Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden met secretly on the plateau of Grütli above the Urner lake and pledged that they and their kin would help each other against external threats. This was in 1291 and it marks the foundation of the Swiss foundation. The immediate threat came from the House of Habsburg. The alliance of 1291 was reaffirmed and strengthened after the battle of Morgarten in 1315, becoming the legal basis for relations among the cantons until 1798. (W. Scott, Pictures at an Exhibition. An introduction to Swiss History and Art,  Genève, 2007).

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