Outdoor art in Switzerland for your “must see” list

Due to the pandemic, we have all been stuck lately and cannot wait to finally leave our confinements.

As Switzerland is slowly getting back to normal life, the first thing we will be able to do will be exploring our own surroundings. With borders still shut, walking around Switzerland's towns and cities will be the perfect way to quench our thirst for travel. #DreamNowTravelLater

Sometimes, outdoor art is so well embedded in the urban landscape that we do not perceive it as art anymore. Rather, it is something that simply fits in. Outdoor art in Switzerland in its various forms and shapes calls for an interaction between the people and the environment. It injects a dose of culture in otherwise ordinary public spaces.

Here are my favorite examples of outdoor art in Switzerland:

 

Zürich's gigantic slingshot poses a question.

The "Y" is more than just an oversized slingshot. It is a symbol of resistance of the oppressed and raises the rhetoric question of "why?" How do we live, where do we live? Also, to the delight of children and adults alike, the sculpture functions as a swing and lights up at night.

"Y" is located in Zürich's Hardau park and was created by Kosovar-Albanian, Sisley Xhafa. As a migrant himself, he challenges such topics as identity, migration and cultural differences in his artworks.

"Y" Sculpture by Sislej Xhafa at Hardau Park in Zürich, Switzerland(Photograph copyright Zurich Tourism)

 

A giant silver woman overlooks Zürich West.

About five meters in height, Anne-Sophie, which is the silver lady's name, stands tall and proud in front of the 25hours design hotel in Zurich. Contradicting old-fashioned wartime hero statues, the idea behind the glossy woman figure is more future-oriented. Anne-Sophie is based on a real human model – at that time a student at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), and she represents the present youth generation.

Secret tip: You can find Anne-Sophie's "cousin" sculpture, Vanessa, at the cantonal school of Heerbrugg SG.

Anne-Sophie Statue in Zürich, Switzerland
 

And Zürich's "Sihlgeheuer" is one of the longest outdoor artworks in Switzerland.

Located next to the Quellenstrasse tram stop, this seemingly scary monster is actually friendly and helps the inhabitants of the retirement home Limmat to find the way to the tram stop. The head, backbones and tail of the Sihlgeheuer reach 72 meters in length, making it one of the longest outdoor artworks in Switzerland.

Sihlgeheuer Monument in Zürich, Switzerland
 

You can enter a sculpture and go under water in Zug.

The timeless architectural work "Lake View" by the renown Swiss artist Roman Signer is set on the Lake Zug promenade and connects the viewer with another reality. As you enter the sculpture and descend five meters below the surface of the lake, an underwater world unfolds in front of you.

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My advice: the experience is especially stunning on sunny days when the color of the lake turns vivid green and you can see fishes swimming by on your eye level. Either way, consider the opening times of the "Lake View".

Lake View in Zug, Switzerland(Photograph copyright Kecko/Flickr)
 

A red carpet covers a small part of St. Gallen.

The cozy stadtlounge of St. Gallen has become an iconic landmark of the city and a beloved hangout place for locals and visitors. The red space resembles a living room and a rug-like material covers anything from sofas, fountains, cars and lamps. After taking a walk in the St. Gallen abbey and its Harry Potter-like library, the stadlounge is a great place to relax or let your kids play around.

stadtlounge in St. Gallen, Switzerland
 

The Caring Hand of Glarus encourages environmental responsibility.

Located in the beautiful, mountainous Glarnerland, the Caring Hand by Eva Oertli and Beat Huber is carefully integrated into the environment by gently "holding" a tree. This installation hopes to inspire people to take better care of the fragile natural environment and encourages to act responsibly.

Can you see why some people call it a "palm tree"?

Caring Hand in Glarus(Photograph copyright Mapio.net)
 

Enjoy a walk including 24 outdoor art objects in Basel.

Connecting two outstanding cultural institutions – Fondation Beyeler and Vitra Campus, the one to two hours long Rehberger art walk takes you on a journey through quaint little towns, green fields and vineyards. Along the way, there is a collection of 24 different artworks that complement the beautiful natural surroundings.

The walk can be accessed for free but you can also sign up for guided tours.

Rehberger Trail in Basel
 

A secret prank is hidden in the old town of Bern.

Several five franc coins innocently lie on the cobblestones in Bern's old town. Spoiler alert: You have to be fast trying to pick them up or you will end up wet! Several times a minute, a spray of water shoots out of the nearby building targeting the greedy coin pickers.

The hopes are false, though, as the coins are attached to the ground... This clever trap by Luciano Andreani has caused a lot of moments of frustration and laughter since its installation over 30 years ago.

(Photograph copyright Wikimedia Commons)
 

You can design the biggest railway clock in Switzerland.

Swiss take their time seriously, but this clock next to the headquarters of the Swiss Federal Railways in Bern sometimes goes wild! You can play with time by creating your own images and later see your animation come to life on the seven-meter wide clock face.

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Lake Geneva's fork is the ultimate Instagram spot in Vevey.

One cannot help but grab the smartphone or camera when arriving in Vevey and seeing its eye-catching symbol: "The Fork". Located in the home town of Nestlé, "The Fork" was installed on Lake Geneva in 1995 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the former Nestlé headquarters – now known as the Alimentarium Food Museum.

For the perfect Instagram pic, sit down at one of the chairs in front of the sculpture, find the right angle to shoot and stick a fork in it.

"The Fork" in Lake Geneva at Vevey
 

The broken chair monument in Geneva calls for peace.

If you visit Geneva, you can’t miss the 12-meter high Broken Chair Monument on the Place des Nations. The monument by the Swiss artist Daniel Berset is a symbol of a campaign against the use of landmines and cluster bombs.

The monument was initially supposed to be displayed for three months but it has stayed for over 20 years now, reminding the message for peace to politicians, curious passerby, tourists and others.

Broken Chair Monument in Geneva, Switzerland
 

Feel like a miniature version of yourself on this oversized bench in Neuchâtel.

The charming medieval lakeside town of Neuchâtel hosts a quirky giant bench with a view over the lake. The author of this massive bench is the French artist Lilian Bourgeat who has created several playful artworks or items that could size-wise likely belong to Gulliver.

Giant Bench in Neuchâtel

Whether it is functional, thought-provoking, pretty, abstract, frustrating or eye-opening - outdoor art invites us to interact and respond.

I hope you got some inspiration for your next outdoor escape, and thanks to all the artists that make our public space more interesting and interactive!

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Kristīne

Kristīne is a Tourism Organisation and Management graduate from Latvia, currently living in Bern.

She is into travelling, photography, handicrafts and online marketing. She doesn't spend the weekends home, and she will never say "no" to an invitation to go hiking in the mountains.
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