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#SwissHistoryPics The golden age of winter tourism in Grindelwald

Grindelwald was the first thermal spa town in the Bernese Oberland region to open up to winter tourism at the end of the 19th century. Photos from private collections provide a glimpse into this bygone era.

It must have been an exciting time for the small village near Interlaken: with the construction of a road and, a few years later, a cogwheel railway, a connection to the wider world was suddenly established.

In 1888, the village experienced a tourist boom thanks to the development of winter sports. Visitors from all over the world came to enjoy sleigh rides, curling, skating and, increasingly, skiing.

This boom also encouraged investment - hotels installed central heating and electric lighting. Optimism at the turn of the century was boundless: there were plans to build a casino and make all the mountains accessible by train. However, the outbreak of the war in 1914 led to a collapse of foreign tourism and these ambitious plans had to be buried.

Blast from the past

The photos presented here date from the golden age of Grindelwald and come from local collectors. Regional historian Peter Bernet, who has been studying his village for decades, has made a selection of images that show more than a century of history.

The images reflect the cultural, tourist and daily life of the valley at a time when photography was not common. The book, Grindelwald, from which the images have been curated, has been published by Weber Publishing.

In our series #SwissHistoryPics, we show rare photos that trace the history of Switzerland. 

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