11 funny place names in Switzerland
If you plan on doing a journey through the alpine nation, consider ditching the Grand Tour of Switzerland and the Glacier Express and instead go on a road trip to all the rude place names you can find. From Les Arses to Moron, here are 11 of our favourites.
1. Bubikon (Zurich)
A good choice for people who want to be within easy reach of Zurich is Bubikon. The town of 7.334 people is quite famous for its titular name, although the town itself is much more than a punchline.
In fact, people have called the place home for more than 1.200 years! What’s more, the area also played host to the Knights of Bubikon, who constructed a command centre in the town between 1191 and 1198 - although how anyone took them seriously is a mystery.
2. Egg (Zurich)
If you’ve decided that you want your child to attend an international school, it's important for the school and where you live to be within easy reach of public transport. Just a 17-minute tram ride from the Inter-Community School of Zurich is the charming village of Egg.
The small village - which as far as we know, isn't famous for its eggs - was first mentioned in 775 as a part of a deed given to the monastery of St. Gallen, in which it was described as a “place to exchange goods”. Canton Zurich would only take control of the small village thanks to Napoleon’s Mediation Act in 1803.
3. Bitsch (Valais)
While it may sound rude today, the town of Bitsch has a name of some significance. Etymology would suggest that the name was derived from a Bisse or man-made mountain stream built in the 15th century.
Despite being hundreds of years old, Bisse are still used today to irrigate high alpine fields during the summer. The one near this town was named Bitscheri, which is likely how Bitsch got its quirky name.
4. Cunter (Graubünden)
Now, before you assume the good people of Graubünden are having a laugh calling a place Cunter, the place’s original name is Contra - Latin for "against".
5. Moron (Bern)
If you are a fan of hiking, taking a walk to the summit of Moron is a great day out. Using Swiss Mobility route 5 or 423, you can make your way to the top of the mountain. At 1.336 metres above sea level, you will get stunning views of the Bernese Jura and the lake of the same name. This is aided by a large observation tower, which was constructed at the summit of Moron.
6. Dicken (St. Gallen)
As the word in German means to make something thicker, it is hard to say why the people of St. Gallen named a town Dicken in 1459. Nevertheless, Dicken prospered thanks to a hand-weaving factory that opened in 1830. Today, the town boasts a population of 416 people.
7. Dorf (Zurich)
“Where do you live?” “Dorf.” “Yes I know that but where do you live?” “Dorf”. Much like the famous Abbott and Costello comedy sketch, the residents of Dorf must have a lot of fun with their name, as in German, their village is called “village.”
8. Les Arses (Valais)
As part of the municipality of Val-de-Charmey, Les Arses is better known for its name than anything else. Nestled in the mountains of Valais, there isn’t much more to say other than the fact that to get to the village you have to make a right on “Route des Arses” - any other move and you’ll be near a local river with nothing resembling a paddle.
9. Gross (Schwyz)
While it may seem like a funny name to give a pretty town on the banks of a lake in Canton Schwyz, it’s important to remember that Gross in German means big. However, you could argue that the town of Big is not well named, as it only has a population of a few hundred people.
10. Hellsau (Bern)
Unlike a rock song of a similar name, the highway to Hellsau is actually quite a picturesque drive through the fields of Bern and Solothurn. Once you arrive, instead of finding demons you will find a quiet village with a school and restaurant.
11. Wankdorf (Bern)
In one that will amuse our British readers the most, the district of Wankdorf in Bern is perhaps the most famous on our list. Along with sounding very rude, the area is home to the Stade de Suisse (or Stadion Wankdorf) football stadium which is where the Swiss national team and Super League side BSC Young Boys call home. If you plan on visiting, be sure to look out for the number 9 tram line in the city which will say in bright letters that it will take you to "Bahnhof, Wankdorf."
Image: Shutterstock.com / Michael Derrer Fuchs
Honourable mentions: Au, Gy and Lü
The Swiss aren’t known to mince their words, and this has extended to how they name their towns, cities, rivers and mountains. For example, it is perfectly normal to have your place of residence be in the town of Au, near the river Au, which flows into the Aa, then to the Aabach before flowing into the lake at the Aaspitz.
Needless to say, single-syllable names may be simple, but they can certainly complicate matters if you ask for directions. For those interested, the shortest town names in Switzerland are Au (St. Gallen), Gy (Geneva) and Lü (Graubünden).
Well there you are, ingredients for the rudest road trip possible to undertake in Switzerland. Have another Swiss name you find amusing? Let us know what it is in the comments below!