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Hobbit tour

Cashing in on Tolkien’s Switzerland

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The writer J.R.R. Tolkien was so impressed by the beauty of nature during a visit to Switzerland, that he incorporated some of the things he experienced in his classic novels, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. (rts/swissinfo.ch/jh) 

In 1911, when John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was 19, he travelled from Interlaken to Zermatt with a group of 11 companions, and saw the Aletsch glacier, the Lauterbrunnen waterfalls and the Swiss Alpine peaks, all of which were reproduced in his own drawings in his books. 

During his trip, he nearly fell to his death in a crevice, and witnessed a terrifying thunderstorm, which is also thought to have inspired him. 

The Alpine country’s association with the writer, said to be the “father” of fantasy fiction, has led to a boost in tourism, with Tolkien fans eager to follow the trail of their hero and find out what he saw here. In Chur in eastern Switzerland, there is a unique museum dedicated to the life and works of the author.

However, the blockbuster trilogies based on Tolkien’s The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings were shot in New Zealand and not in the Swiss Alps.