Switzerland is famous for its awesome alpine mountains and their glaciers, beautiful lakes, lovely meadows and fine cities with excellent museums. Bern has the Paul Klee centre. The Beyeler Foundation, in Riehen, near Basel, has an amazing modern and contemporary collection including works by Monet, Cézanne and van Gogh, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon and Jackson Pollock, Louise Bourgeoise and Wolgang Tillmans. It also has works of tribal art from Africa, Oceania and Alaska. Zurich’s remarkable Kunsthaus has an equally fine collection including Swiss artists Alberto Giacometti, Johann Heinrich Füssli and Ferdinand Hodler. It also has works by Monet, van Gogh, Manet, Matisse and René Magritte, Edvard Munch, Picasso and Jacques Lipchitz. Geneva’s Musée d’Art et d’Histoire has The Miraculous Draught of Fishes by the little-known but important artist, Konrad Witz, credited as the first artist to portray European landscapes accurately.
The country has its own strong literary heritage and has also attracted many of the world’s greatest writers. Swiss born literati include Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Madame de Staël and Johanna Spyri, author of Heidi, who all influenced world literature. Later Swiss writers include crime novelist Hansjörg Schneider and poet and novelist Robert Walser, whom Hermann Hesse and Franz Kafka admired deeply. Among foreigners the Shelleys and Byron escaped calumny back home. Mary Shelley invented Frankenstein here. For Voltaire, Switzerland was a haven after his outspoken writings were attacked in France. Dickens happily roamed its vineyards knowing his Little Dorrit would find peace there. Robert Louis Stevenson sought a lung cure in Switzerland. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought its precipices suitable for a Sherlockian death. Mark Twain found comedy here for a travel book. Tolkien was inspired by its awesome landscapes. Hermann Hesse was profoundly influenced by the stunning scenery of Montagnola. Anita Brookner found her ideal ‘Hotel du Lac’ on Lake Geneva. Those who ended their days here include James Joyce, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Mann and actors Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin.
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