• Deborah Kade

Giessbach, Switzerland Giessbach Grandhotel and Giessbach Fall

The historic Giessbach Grandhotel was built in 1873- 1874 by French architect Horace Edouard Davinet for the Hauser family in Zürich, one of the great dynasties of the hotel trade. The spacious elegance of this bold new hotel site, as well as its unique surroundings, soon lead to worldwide renown.

Painters, engravers and photographers captured the astounding harmony between buildings, parks and the landscape in their pictures. Poets and philosophers praised the natural splendor of Giessbach Falls.

By the time war broke out in 1914, the Giessbach Grandhotel had become the meeting point for high society. Emperors and kings, their entourages, statesmen, diplomats and celebrated artists spent their summers at Giessbach, drawing new strength from its peace, and exchanging society gossip and state secrets.

Two world wars with disastrous consequences for the Swiss hotel trade, as well as a new approach to tourism, faded the fame and glory of Giessbach. After years of decline, the hotel closed its doors in 1979. There were plans for demolishing the entire original complex and building a modern concrete building, in the style of a “jumbo style” chalet, in its place.

Luckily, in November 1983, internationally renowned Swiss ecologist Franz Weber succeeded in buying the 22-hectare Giessbach estate and placing it under protection, with help from his organization Helvetia Nostra and his “Giessbach for the Swiss People Foundation". His idea that Giessbach should be given to the citizens of Switzerland as a “gift” and thus preserved from destruction for evermore was met with enthusiasm.

In order to finance the necessary renovations and operating costs of the hotel, Franz Weber founded a shareholders company, the Parkhotel Giessbach AG, and in May 1984 reopened the site with a new restaurant, the “Park Restaurant”, and a small number of rooms that were not renovated. Renovations took place over seven stages, each winter, until the hotel’s structural level had been entirely renovated and the edifice once again took its place among the most beautiful and renowned buildings in Swiss hospitality.

With its famously grand view of Lake Brienz and the awe-inspiring Giessbach Falls, the Terrace, where we had lunch, is situated in front of the Grandhotel.

Michael and I both had the Giessbach salad and pumpkin soup. Delicious!!!

It had a raspberry dressing. Yummy!!!!!

Pumpkin soup with nutmeg, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin oil. So tasty!!!

The Giessbach Falls thunder from a height of 400 meters, tumbling 14 steps past the fairy tale castle in mighty white cascades. Different paths follow the waterfalls.

The funicular railway of the Giessbach Grandhotel was the first railway in the world to have a passing loop in the middle of the route. The railway was built in 1879 by the Aarau machine works, with Niklaus Riggenbach (director) and Roman Abt (engineer).

It was for cost reasons that Roman Abt constructed a passing loop for a funicular railway for the first time. The first version was rather complicated: inner tracks on the first car and outer tracks on the second car ensured that the cars always took the correct path, with guardrails on the passing loop.
Abt’s passing loop, used ubiquitously today, with a double flange on the outer wheels and a flat roller on the inner wheels, was first used in 1886 on the Lugano Bahnhof funicular.

On the Giessbach funicular, the new Abt passing loop was installed later in the autumn of 1890, after the end of the season, and used for the first time in 1891.
 New chassis also came along in 1891, compatible with the new passing loop, with three fixed axes. The central axle has a flat roller on both sides, and serves merely as stabilisation. These chassis from 1891 are still used today! They are now the oldest in Switzerland, after the even older Gütschbahn chassis from 1884 were sadly destroyed in autumn 2012.

The Giessbach funicular is the oldest in Switzerland still in operation. In Europe there are four other frequently running funiculars that can claim seniority: Budapest Burg (March 2, 1870), Istanbul Tunnel (January 17, 1875), Scarborough South Cliff (July 6, 1875) and Lyon St. Juste (August 8, 1878).

After lunch, we took the "Jungfrau" to Brienz.

The views along Lake Brienz are spectacular!

The day was absolutely beautiful so we decided to walk along the lake closer to Interlaken. Trees are turning colors.

The funicular is going up the Harder Kulm

There were so many paragliders; I could only photograph half of them.

The Höhematte is almost back to its original state. Someone had spread manure and they were tilling it into the soil.

For dinner, we went back to Citta Vecchia for a mixed salad and lasagna. Our favorite Italian restaurant.

This lasagna actually melts in your mouth. The homemade pasta is so very tender.

Another day comes to a close........


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