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Oldest house in Switzerland faces partial demolition

The oldest part of the house is expected to be shifted to another location and rebuilt as a museum

(Keystone Archive)

Switzerland's oldest wooden house, built more than 800 years ago, is facing partial demolition following a decision by the cantonal government in Schwyz to strip the building of its protected status. Only the oldest part of the house, built in 1176, is expected to remain intact.

Friday's decision marks an apparent end to a long-fought legal battle between the owners of the property, who want it demolished, and cultural organisations, which want to see it preserved.

The local government ruling opens the way for the building to be dismantled. The oldest part is to be shifted to another location where it will be rebuilt as a museum.

But the decision may still be challenged in the cantonal court. The Swiss national heritage foundation "Schweizer Heimatschutz" called on the government to rethink its "wrong decision".

The foundation said the ruling would result in a cultural monument being reduced to the status of an exhibition piece. It said there was no overriding reason why the building should be taken apart and moved.

The medieval wooden building was first enlarged in the 13th century, then later in the 17th and 20th centuries. The Schwyz authorities argued that only the original building was worth preserving. But experts are divided over the architectural merits of the later additions.

The house, which has stood empty for the past 20 years, is believed to be one of the oldest of its kind in Europe.

swissinfo with agencies


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