Local History

Altdorf, Wilhelm Tell. Photo/Foto: TES.

Altdorf, Goethe, Gotthard, Suvorov and Tell

Altdorf is not only the economic, political and cultural centre of the canton of Uri, but also traditionally a gateway to the Gotthard Pass and of course the town of Willem Tell, the legendary hero, who doesn’t know him?

However, Altdorf is also a place where the south and the north have been meeting for centuries, trading goods and commodities, and where popes, politicians, soldiers, pilgrims, craftsmen, artists and poets stopped to exchange horses, for a break, overnight stay or dinner.

Goethe (1749-1832) has been there several times (including in 1775, 1779 and 1797) and has informed Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) about his impressions and experiences, who then put Wilhelm Tell on paper in 1804.

The Russian general Alexander Suvorov (1730-1800) also spent the night in Altdorf on September 26th, 1799,  with 25 000 soldiers, on the retreat for French troops, which was of course a great ordeal for the small town.

A monument and the so-called Surovov trail reminds of this fateful event. For a small provincial town, Altdorf has a lot to offer in terms of culture, history and restaurants, the northern and southern cuisine are of course well represented. (Further information: (www.uri.info).