Appenzell is an attractive Pre-Alpine region in eastern Switzerland just south of Lake Constance reaching its highest point in Säntis at 8216 feet, in the Alpstein range.
It is the only Swiss canton that is entirely surrounded by another canton. It is subdivided into two independent half-cantons, established in 1597 following democratic votes in the two religious communities. Appenzell-Ausserrhoden being Protestant and Appenzell-Innerrhoden Roman Catholic. The division also reflects a geographical difference. Innerrhoden consists mainly of the Alpstein and Säntis massifs, while Ausserrhoden takes in the upland region to the north of the Säntis range. Both the half-cantons reach their most important political decisions at the Landesgemeinde, the annual meeting of all the men of the community which is held in the open air.
The countryside of the two half-cantons that make up Appenzell contains well-tended orchards, meadows, and fields. There are many dairy cows to be seen, many of them are Brown Swiss, a breed prized for its milk.
Neat farms are everywhere, with nothing out of place. Even the3 woodpiles look as if the logs had been cut and stacked by engineers.
In the Toggenburg Valley is the town of Wildhaus, where religious reformer Ulrich Zwingli was born. His home is open to tourists. It was built in the mid-15th century by the reformer’s grandfather and despite a number of changes, its basic structure has been preserved to this day.
The Wildkirchli area has exerted a singular appeal for centuries and is still today one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Appenzellerland.
The Cave Chapel was established in 1621; the Hermit’s House was built in 1658 and offered sanctuary to hermits until 1853. It later became an inn. Today the small museum is a reconstruction of the former Hermit’s House and was built in 1972 on the site of the old inn.
Folk art is deeply rooted in Appenzell tradition; in Innerrhoden, in particular, an ancient culture characteristic of these upland pastoral regions is still very much alive. Folk music played by string bands and the beautiful local costumes also play an essential part in the ancient traditions of the sociably disposed people of Appenzell.