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At the south end of Lake Luzern, past the gorgeously scenic Seelisberg Peninsula, the narrow, majestic Urnersee accesses some of the most legendary landmarks in the region.
The Schillerstein, on the right as you cruise past the peninsula, is a spectacular natural rock obelisk extending nearly 85 feet up out of the lake, onto which has been carved a gigantic dedication: "To the author of Wilhelm Tell, Friedrich von Schiller. 1859." About 10 minutes beyond the rock, the lake steamer pulls up at the quaint, 19th-century landing dock for perhaps the most historically significant site in central Switzerland: the Rütli Meadow, where the confederates of Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Uri are said to have met in 1307 to renew the 1291 Oath of Eternal Alliance.
A five-minute walk up the hillside brings you to a grassy plateau where a rock and flagpole mark the sacred location. Nearby is a medieval rock bench nestled by towering trees—the perfect spot to think about another monumental event that took place here centuries later: amid threats of a 1940 German invasion, General Guisan, Swiss army commander in chief, summoned hundreds of officers to the meadow to reaffirm their commitment to the Swiss Confederation in a secret, stirring ceremony. Afterward, head back down the hill to study the small video presentation (perhaps also take a photo of a costumed historical interpreter) and be sure to stop in the time-burnished, 19th-century chalet snack shop, with its lovely stained-glass salons and picturesque wood verandas.
Rütli Meadow at a Glance
Elsewhere in Luzern and Central Switzerland
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