• Deborah Kade

Meiringen, Switzerland Aareschlucht - Aare Gorge

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

The Haslital, one of the large valleys in the central alps, stretches from the Grimsel Pass to Lake Brienz. The flat valley floor of the lower Haslital is separated from the upper valley by a transverse rock formation. Over thousands of years, the Aare River eroded a path through this rock formation resulting in a gorge which is 1,400 meters long and up to 200 meters deep.

The Aare Gorge has been accessible for over 100 years by a system of safe paths and tunnels. The walk through the gorge is a very special way to experience nature.

The rock formation between Meiringen and Innertkirchet is called the "Kirchet" and consists mainly of very hard limestone. This formation was created in the Cretaceous Period approximately 130 – 160 million years ago as ocean sediment which hardened to limestone over the years. (sediment in the Thetis, the Geosynklinal ocean of the alps). When the alps were formed approximately 15 million years ago, these sediment deposits were vaulted into the sediment casing of the crystalline mountains, but the rock in the area of the Kirchet is autochthon, which means that it was barely moved. As a result, the limestone here is very solid and resistant to water and ice. The glaciers of the ice age, which began approximately 1 – 2 million years ago, were able to erode the cliffs of the Kirchet, but not to carry them away. In the first warm periods, as the glaciers receded, the water eroded a gorge through the cliffs. In the cold period which followed, the glacier once again covered the Kirchet which filled the gorge with moraine. During the next warm period, the melting water did not wash out the moraine, but instead cut out a new gorge between the cliffs and many new Aare Gorges were created during the ice ages. According to Müller’s detailed observations, five further gorges exist which are partially or completely filled with moraine. The "Lautere Schlucht" which begins at the car park of the Aare Gorge and runs more or less parallel to the present gorge is a good example. It has not been possible to date the formation of each gorge and the different ice ages.


Until the Aare Gorge was opened for tourists, only two side gorges were passable, the "Lautere Schlauche" and the "Finstere Schlauche" by which one could reach the Aare River at approximately the middle of the gorge as it stands today. Otherwise, the gorge was only able to be reached by the dangerous option of the river, which was rarely used. It was no wonder that fables began about this unknown gorge and its inhabitants.

Samuel Studer, a natural scientist from Bern, reported in 1814 about the monster in the Aare Gorge: "From Unterseen up to Grimsel and towards Gadmen, people believe that a type of snake with an almost round head and short feet can be seen at present." Many tales tell that this snake, known as a "Tatzelwurm", lives in the Aare Gorge. One woman who lived in Innertkirchen in the century before last tells: "As my father was collecting hazelnut sticks on the Kirchet, he saw all at once a thick worm with thick stumpy feet, a large mouth with pointy teeth and evil looking eyes coming towards him". When the monster began to make whistling noises, my father ran home as fast as he could…

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited the Aare Gorge in the autumn of 1779 during his travels in the Bernese Oberland. He climbed down through the “Finsteren Schlüüchen” at Lammi to the Aare River. His impressions of this journey are vividly described in the story “Indescribable Days”.

To get to the Aare Gorge, I took the train from Interlaken Ost to Meiringen. Then, I changed to the Meiringen-Innertkirchen-Bahn and got off at the Aareschluct West exit.

I crossed the bridge and headed to the gorge.

Wild brambles grow along the river. The fruit of the bramble is the blackberry, but in a strict botanical sense, the blackberry is not a berry. Each tiny juicy ‘blob’ on the blackberry represents a tiny fruit or drupelet, and there are many of them so it is an aggregate fruit . A drupe is a fruit that has a fleshy, outer part that surrounds a stone or seed. So, a drupelet is a tiny drupe.

There are many picnic areas along the river, too.

Cute playground

Map of the area

The small gap

"Rock Face" Can you see it?

The train station is in the mountain. It is quite a unique train stop. You press the button for the direction you wish to go. This is a stop on demand station. You can feel the wind coming through the vent in the door just before the train arrives. The driver presses some button and the door slides open. He leaves his seat to make sure everyone gets onboard. The tunnel is dark except for the lights on the train.

I wanted to go to Città Vecchia tonight for dinner but they were closed. The Goldener Anker was my next choice. I had the veal steak with a brown gravy and morel mushrooms. The meal included a nice variety of vegetables: kohlrabi, fennel, broccoli with sliced almonds, cauliflower, yellow squash, carrots and sugar peas. They was a nice dollop of whipped cream that was placed on top of the meat and it just oozed into the sauce. Also included were homemade noodles swimming in butter! Wonderful ending to a great day.

Flower petal garnish on top of the homemade noodles with butter.


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