The Last Place You'd Ever Expect to Find in Switzerland

This may be the least Swiss place in Switzerland – and that's a very good thing

Robert Schrader

If there's one thing Switzerland is known for, it's secrecy. OK, perhaps the tiny country is also known for quality, design, and sophistication, but secrecy is definitely the most notorious trademark of the Swiss, followed by (and certainly, in many historical instances, entwined with) neutrality.

Indeed, the quality of life is so high in Switzerland, and the uniformity in thought about how to maintain that quality, there you could very easily argue that Switzerland is a boring place. This would, unfortunately, be a true statement in many contexts, but not when it comes to a bizarre park on the outskirts of Zurich.

What is Bruno Weber Park?

As you walk up the hill from the station in Dietikon, one of Zurich's northwestern suburbs, toward Bruno Weber Park, you might miss it, particularly if it's shaded by the thick foliage of summer. But as you walk closer, the bizarre ceramic and metal structures are impossible to ignore – it wouldn't be entirely inaccurate to compare Bruno Weber Park to Gaudí's Parc Güell, in Barcelona.

The brainchild of the Swiss artist Bruno Weber (duh!), Bruno Weber Park is his masterwork, a surreal wonderland of animals real and take, structures grand and Lilliputian, colors brighter than any you see around the park. As is the case with Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia, Bruno Weber died before he could finish the park, which his wife and several artists are currently trying to complete.

How Did Bruno Weber Park Come To Be?

According to his widow, whom I spoke with, Bruno Weber began building sculptures at the site of the park back in 1962 to create a burst of color among the gray of Switzerland. If you've ever been to Switzerland (the winter lasts forever), then you realize what a daunting task this was, to say nothing of what goes into maintaining it.

Ironically, most of the park's woes began just before and just after Bruno Weber himself died: Neither the canton where the park is located (Argovia) nor the Swiss Federal government saw the park as worth saving, let alone to be of any cultural importance, and so were it not for a massive fundraiser in 2014, the park might be on its way to getting bulldozed.

How to Get to Bruno Weber Park

The anticipation of getting to Bruno Weber Park might make it seems like it's farther away than it is, but I assure you: It's practically in Zurich. To reach the park, which is technically located near the city of Dietikon, board a train bound for the city of Baden at Zurich's Hauptbahnhof, then get off at Dietikon and walk southward up the hill – you literally can't miss it.

Entrance to Bruno Weber Park is 18 Swiss francs as of March 2015, although you should be away that the park closes most winters, so it's a good idea to call – or, if you don't speak Swiss German, to have a local friend call – the park before you go to make sure your journey won't be in vain. The phone number is +41447400271, dialed as "0447400271" from any Swiss phone.

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