Rail Europe – The Magic of Beautiful Places

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The Grand Tour of Switzerland passes by a multitude of hidden gems – such as many places listed in the Federal Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites (ISOS). We’ve picked a selection of 5 villages to whet your appetite. You can learn more about these fascinating places here.

From here, a spectacular Way of the Cross leads up about 400 steps to the pilgrimage church of Santa Maria del Sasso. A beautiful stream and multiple wayside shrines accompany those making the ascent. Once you arrive at the top, the church sits enthroned like a patroness, presiding over the village.

Away from major lines of communication in a rugged topography, Pleujouse is situated at the entrance to a narrow valley that forms a magnificent wooded background. The fortified rocky peak overlooks a number of orchards, drawing attention to the fact that the traditional local economy is based mainly on the cultivation of damsons, a small purplish red plum from which Damassine AOP.

Sent's overall appearance is characterised largely by the emigration that has played a key economic role here since the 17th century. As in many mountain regions, many natives of Sent emigrated abroad, particularly to Italy. Some of these made their fortunes as mercenaries, confectioners or tradespeople, building impressive houses in their home village

The enchanting winegrowing village of Saint-Saphorin lies in the heart of the Lavaux vineyards, just at the foot of the first slope of Mont Pèlerin. Since the village was once threatened by landslides, the authorities decided to build arcades, on which the facades of the houses were then constructed. It is for this reason that Saint-Saphorin is also known as a fortified village.

For centuries, Ernen lay on the Gomm valley road and therefore on the access route to the passes over Furka and Grimsel. With the opening of Furkastrasse on the opposite side of the valley in 1861, the old waypoint suddenly found itself apart from the traffic on the pass. The local economy collapsed and the settlement virtually stopped developing until the middle of the 20th century.