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The mountains and lakes of central Switzerland rival those of the Bernese Oberland for being the most photographed sites of Switzerland. This is the region that gave birth to the Swiss confederation in 1291, and the peaceful Rütli meadow where the founding fathers chose to swear their legendary oath has become a place of pilgrimage.

This content was published on March 8, 2006 - 09:05

Along with the William Tell Chapel, the meadow is one of the main stops on a boat tour of Lake Lucerne.

Railway journey

Passengers also disembark at Vitznau and Alpnach Stad for the popular mountain railway journeys to the tops of the Rigi and Pilatus mountains.

While Pilatus claims it was once the home of dragons, Rigi has been a popular destination since the 19th century, attracting larger-than-life figures such as Queen Victoria and Mark Twain.

Even though few tourists venture outside Lake Lucerne, there are plenty of reasons to make side trips beyond its shores.

Biosphere

The Entlebuch valley to the west claims extensive moors and a large area dominated by a moon-like landscape of karst.

The region has become Switzerland's first Unesco-recognised biosphere reserve.

Travelling south of Lake Lucerne, Engelberg is the region's best-known ski resort, with year-round skiing on the Titlis Glacier, more than 3,000 metres above sea level.

Pilgrimage

Engelberg is also home to an impressive Benedictine monastery, but the Benedictine abbey that dominates the town of Einsiedeln to the east in canton Schwyz, is Switzerland's most important place of pilgrimage thanks to the "Black Madonna" icon.

Moving further eastward, canton Glarus boasts the well-preserved alpine village of Elm and the car-free resort of Braunwald.

swissinfo, Dale Bechtel

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