Route 16 ~ Zurich to Lucerne, over the Albis (by the High Albis)


10 stunden = 32 ¾ English miles.
A diligence daily in 7 hours.

Or, today, 3 ½ hours by bicycle and less than an hour by train, which goes through the mountain, rather than over it.

The high chain of the Albis intervenes between Zurich and Lucerne, running nearly parallel with the Lake of Zurich.  Two roads are carried across it.

Having already cycled over the first, easier “Low Albis” road on Route 16, this time I’d tackle Murray’s preferred route, and possibly the only one he travelled, by following his notes for the second route over the mountain.


The second route crosses the High Albis, and in its present (1837) state is dangerous for a heavy carriage, and not fit for any vehicle but a char of the country. It is exceedingly steep, and resembles the bed of a torrent rather than a road.

Indeed, avoiding the traffic on the car road, I took the adjacent footpath over the pass itself, which would have been the original road Murray refers to in 1837, that, instead of following the zig zagging traffic, takes an “exceedingly steep” more direct route up the mountain.

This line of route, however is remarkable for the very beautiful view of the chain of the Alps, and a large part of Switzerland, which is seen from its summit.

Given that the view from the top of the Uetliberg, on the lower route, gave extensive views of Lake Zurich, I was intrigued to see how “remarkable” this panorama would actually be, with the road crossing the Albis 10km further down the lake.

It skirts the shore of the lake as far as Adliswyl, where it crosses the river Sihl, and ascends to the Albis Wirthshaus, or Inn of the Albis, which affords only moderate fare of accommodation, but a magnificent prospect.


Today, you can only enjoy food and drink at the Albishaus, which uses local ingredients from neighbouring Langnau am Albis, with dishes starting at CHF 10.50. No ascent of the Albispass is complete without making the additional effort to climb the extra 600m up to the historic restaurant, where you can enjoy the “magnificent” view over a rewarding drink. [menu].

The grandest feature, however, of the view is the snowy chain of the Alps, from the Sentis to the Jungfrau, which fills up the horizon.


Photo: Tschubby Wikipedia

The panoramic view from  the Albis has been engraved by Keller.

Whilst his work is no longer on display at the watch tower, like much of the Murray’s notes, Heinrich Keller’s information map was also mentioned by Ebel in his 1820 guide. Keller’s many etchings of the Albis and its various views still change hands for hundreds of Francs today, like this one “Der Zugersee vom Albis”:


Back on the road once more…

Bullinger explains:

“Above all there was tremendous joy when Zwingli’s body was found among the dead. All the morning, crowds came up, everyone wanting to see Zwingli. The vituperation and insults hurled against him by many jealous people are beyond description.”

“Vituperation”: now there’s a word that I vow to use more regularly. I wonder in which “German : English Dictionary” the translator found that back in 1531.

“Later that day, a crowd of wild young men collected, including pensioners and mercenaries, whom Zwingli had vigorously attacked and who were equally incensed against him. They considered dividing Zwingli’s body into five parts, sending one portion to each of the Five States. Others disagreed: who would want to carry round or send forward a heretic? He should be burnt. Some of the leaders, like Schultheiss Golder and Amman Doos, came forward, saying that a dead man should be left in peace. This was not the place for action of this sort.”

Amman Doos not.

“No one could tell how it was going to be settled—some talked about the need for luck, and so on. To this the noisy gang replied that they had discussed the matter fully and they wanted some action to be taken. So injustice triumphed, and when the leaders saw that there was nothing to be done they went off.

“The crowd then spread it abroad throughout the camp that anyone who wanted to denounce Zwingli as a heretic and betrayer of a pious confederation, should come on to the battlefield. There, with great contempt, they set up a court of injustice on Zwingli which decided that his body should be quartered and the portions burnt. All this was carried into effect by the executioner from Lucerne with abundance of abuse; among other things he said that although some had asserted that Zwingli was a sick man he had in fact never seen a more healthy-looking body.”

Probably because he’d given up eating Communion bread.

“They threw into the fire the entrails of some pigs that had been slaughtered the previous night and then they turned over the embers so that the pigs offal was mixed with Zwingli’s ashes.”

News of his death lead to celebrations amongst Catholics and other religious leaders and theologians.  Luther Tweeted, “Oh, what a triumph this is, that they have perished. How well God knows his business.”, whilst Erasmus updated his Facebook status to say, “We are freed from great fear by the death of the two preachers, Zwingli and Oecolampadius, whose fate has wrought an incredible change in the mind of many. This is the wonderful hand of God on high.” 

“I admire your courage, Miss errr?”
“Trench… Sylvia Trench…. I admire your luck, Mr?”
“Oecolampadius… John Oecolampadius.”

Goethe, meanwhile, without any further comment, choose only to share a Youtube clip of a parrot dancing to “Another One Bites the Dust” [here]. It remained the most watched video on the platform until the release of “Gangnam Style” many years later.

This being religion though, it was important that Make Believe be used to recruit more gullible pagans, and an alternative account to Bullinger’s seemingly reliable eyewitness account, came this one from fellow Zwinglian, Oswald Myconius, who also claimed to have been there:

“Three times Zwingli was thrown to the ground by the advancing forces but in each case he stood up again. On the fourth occasion a spear reached his chin and he fell to his knees saying, “They can kill the body but not the soul.” And after these words, he fell asleep in the Lord. After the battle, when our forces had withdrawn to a stronger position, the enemy had time to look for Zwingli’s body, both his presence and his death having been quickly reported. He was found judgment was passed on him, his body was quartered and burnt to ashes. Three days after the foes had gone away Zwingli’s friends came to see if any trace of him was left, and what a miracle! In the midst of the ashes lay his heart whole and undamaged.”

Arise Saint Ulrich!

The spot where he fell is marked by a tree, about 5 minutes walk from the church.

The tree, and a monument to Zwingli and his men, still stands proud in the field by the left hand side of the road, on the hill that leads down to the village and medieval church.


The plaque reading, “Love can kill them, but not the soul, so spoke at this place, Ulrich Zwingli, for truth and freedom of the Christian Church, dying 11th October 1531”.

The Gothic church of Cappel, anciently attached to a convent suppressed soon after the commencement of the Reformation, was built in 1280.

Just down the hill from the battleground is the church, whilst impressive in size is largely bare inside.




The road opposite the church leads to the pretty village of Rifferswil, and back onto Murray’s original Route.


With impressive views of the Alps, it drops down to meet the alternative road over the Albis at Mettmenstetten.


before heading to Knonau, where we rejoin Murray’s notes from the aforementioned route.


I’ve added a few different photos for those of you who may have already read my musings on these places in Route 16.

There is an inn at the castle. At this place the two roads unite.

Dating back to 1525 as the seat of the Landvogts, Schloss Knonau became the council’s offices in 1816 before being sold to the village President in 1832, who presumably was involved in both the selling and buying transactions. The castle remained in the hands of his family until 1900, and they ran both the post office and Goldener Löwen guest house from the building until 1887, possibly serving John Murray a nice cold beer and stamping his postcards when he passed by.


In 1926, a doctor bought the entire castle and set up a private mental hospital and in 1998 it was bought by its current owner who converted it to private accommodation, with various rich (foreign) families living in the surrounding buildings.

The road from Knonau to Lucerne proceeds by Rümeltiken and St Wolfgang – where a good carriage-road turns off on the left to Zug and The Righi .


It’s a beautiful road through open farmland to “Rümeltiken” (Rumentikon Hagendorn), via Niederwil with its Kirche St. Mauritius, dating back to 1510 but rebuilt only ten years after Murray’s visit. The church is idyllically located in the centre of the tiny farming village, with its red, domed baroque tower roof standing out amongst the surrounding old wooden buildings.


St. Mauritius was a proper Swiss saint. Well, a proper Swiss saint who was born in ancient Egypt and was a soldier in the Roman army before eventually becoming leader of the 6,600 strong Theban legion, dispatched with orders to clear the St.Bernard Pass across Mont Blanc.

Despite offering his military allegiance to Rome, as a Christian, he refused to engage in wanton slaughter and that service to God superseded all else, including his Emperor, Maximian, and the Roman gods, whom he also refused to worship.


When Max ordered the Theban Legion to harass some local Christians, they refused. As punishment, the Roman Emperor ordered that every tenth soldier be killed, a military punishment known as decimation and possibly the scariest lottery you could ever buy a ticket for.

As Maurice and his men grew more obstinate, refusing further instructions from Rome, a second decimation was arranged before Maximian grew so impatient he ordered all the remaining members of the 6,600 unit be executed (that would be 5,346 if my maths is correct and the previous decimations had gone to plan). History doesn’t state if this was done in further rounds of ten, although I’m sure that InFront Sports in Zug would have been awarded the TV rights, with Maximums allocating 85% of the tickets to sponsors and friends of the FIFA-family.


The mass execution is said to have taken place at Agaunum – now known as Saint-Maurice d’Agaune, 240 km south in the canton of Valais; the spot now being the site of the impressive Abbey of Saint Maurice-en-Valais.  However, again, this being religion, historians and researchers have struggled to find anything to confirm whether or not the story of the Theban Legion is based on truth, fact or evidence.

It was normal for members of the military in those days to follow Isis – the Egyptian god, not the Islamic State – meaning it would have been incredibly unlikely that an entire squadron would consist of Christians. Either way, the story certainly achieved its aim in attracting pilgrims to the abbey at Agaunum.


Switzerland seems to have taken the story of St.Mauritius to heart; as well as Saint Maurice-en-Valais, he has given his name to St.Moritz, as well as seven churches or altars in Aargau alone – the canton itself being given to the abbey by Henry I in return for Maurice’s lance, sword and spurs; a transaction that must have made a monk or two smirk. As well as Einsiedeln Abbey, there are six churches in his honour in Luzern, four in Solothurn, one in Appenzell and this one in Zug.

As well as being the patron saint of swordsmiths, weavers and dyers, the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden and numerous cities around the world, he is also the patron saint of the Italian army’s alpine troops, Order of Saint Maurice, Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, the Order of the Golden Fleece, and the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a historical military order of unmarried merchants in Estonia and Latvia. More importantly, he is also the patron saint of gout.

St. Maurice had been portrayed as a black African knight ever since the 12th century, however due to the developing slave trade in the mid-sixteenth Century, he suddenly enjoyed a Michael Jackson colour change, much to the approval of the SVP (Swiss People’s Party), explaining his pale complexion here in Niederwil.


The route continues across the main road at Rumentikon, passing near the Ziegelei (Brickwork) Museum, through somebody’s farmyard and an extremely steep unpaved woodland path.


Alternatively you can also head to St.Wolfgang along a brief stretch of the “good carriage-road”, heading up the hill at Kloster Heiligkreuz instead, which was only a small school during Murray’s time, with construction on the huge monastery not starting until 1862.



St.Wolfgang is a pretty little hamlet, built around the 15th Century church and popular Landgasthof Rössli Hünenberg, which dates back to the 16th Century when this was the main trade route between Zurich and Luzern. A fine view is had from its terrace over the Reuss valley directly below.


The village is named after its Catholic church, dedicated to St. Wolfgang von Regensburg, the German priest from the swinging 930’s who studied as a child at Reichenau (Route 7). He retired as a hermit, to what is now Wolfgangsee in Austria, apparently to escape the distractions of worldly life. This was AD 994, what the bloody hell was he escaping? Facetome, 24 Hourglass News, and Tabloid Scriptures?


He was canonised in 1052 after many miracles supposedly took place at his tomb, including various noted healings from stomach aches, and he remains a patron saint of such ailments today. So who would have thought that there was a patron saint of constipation, flatulence and IBS?.

He is also the patron saint of carpenters and wood carvers, so one can only guess the disappointment on Jesus Christ’s face when he was overlooked for that gig.


Bizarrely, Murray doesn’t detail St.Wolfgang nor the Wart (or Gesellenhaus) in Hünenberg, just a few metres down the road. Built in 1684 as a courthouse it is now a restaurant and wedding venue.


The Schützenhaus opposite also dates back to 1686, whilst the adjacent Wirtschaft zum Wartstein also offers excellent dining in a historic building.


Thence it proceeds along the banks of The Reuss to Gysliker-Brücke, Dierikon, Ebikon, and passing near the monument of the Swiss Guards (Route 16), enters Lucerne.

The road drops down to Rotkreuz and follows the river through the industrial outskirts of Luzern, scattered throughout with many picturesque buildings from the early 1700’s;


Gysliker-Brücke” (Gisikon),




and Ebikon, home to the Schindler elevator company since 1874.


Elevators had only just been introduced to coal mines in the 1830s, so you can only speculate what Murray would have made of the idea of escalators and travelators back in 1837, let alone Wolfgang von Regensburg, who was already trying to escape ‘modern life’ 850 years earlier:

“This the writer knows to be unquestionably fact; yet he must candidly add, what he also knows from observation, that the absurd conduct and unreasonable folly of travellers on these moving walkways have strengthened the spring of my disdain for my fellow human beings in a very great degree. These mechanical floors were invented by a remarkable fellow who presumed, with reasonable expectation, that they would assist in making one’s journey from A-B somewhat more expeditious, yet, despite years of research and manufacture, the annoying fuckers still decide to stand still on them!

I have even observed on many occasion, languorous travellers standing still, two abreast in some cases, so you too must also stand motionless behind them, moving slower than had you chosen to take the stairs.”

With hindsight, I can now see why St.Wolfgang von Regensburg, decided to escape ‘modern life’ in AD 994.

Leaving Schindler’s Lift behind, it’s a straight run into the city centre.

The route ends in Luzern at the famous Lion Monument, which Murray pays more attention to in Route 16.





 Inns: Schwan –  a new house, in the best situation, and good; in 1837 complaints were made that it was dear

Restaurant Schwanen above the Perosa store on Schwanenplatz, overlooks the lake with its Cafe de Ville offering terrace seating outside and a menu that, whilst good, in 2015 complaints could still be made that it is dear. They don’t offer hotel rooms.


Balances (Waage) – an old-established house, good, clean, and moderate charges. The four daughters of the late host take the management of the establishment, and the traveller will find in it extreme civility and most excellent attendance.

The chic 4 Star gourmet Hotel de Balances on Weinmarkt dates back to 1807 as “Wirtshaus zur Waage”, and was actually refurbished and renamed in 1837, the year Murray visited; going on to host the likes of famous Irish poet George Bernard Shaw, Princess Louise of Baden and, on numerous occasions, the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina. The restaurant boasts 14 Gault Millau points and is reasonably priced (5 courses for CHF 105, or 3 course lunch for CHF 45), although the rooms are no longer moderately charged, starting at CHF150.


Rossli (Cheval)

The former grand Hotel Rossli is now a Co-op supermarket on the corner of Mühlenplatz and Rössligasse. It boasts a restaurant.

Whilst not exactly the same, you can still stay at a Guest House Roesli, at Pfistergasse 12, with rooms starting at CHF 80. Belonging to the Baslertor Hotel, you can use their summer pool too.


There is a good pension overlooking the lake close to the Kapel Brücke

Nowadays, the best fit for this is the popular English pub Hotel Pickwick, where I’m sure Murray would have gone to watch Preston North End beat Notts County to be crowned Champions of the first ever Football League, had he not arrived exactly 50 years too early and exactly 100 years before the first televised game.  Unlike the beer, rooms are reasonably priced from CHF 90.


Alternatively, the excellent boutique Hotel des Alpes next door also fits the bill and offers a terrace restaurant too, serving regional dishes (3 courses from CHF 30). Rooms start at CHF 135.



Zurich to Lucerne, over the Albis (via Albisrieden)
10 stunden = 32 ¾ English miles.
A diligence daily in 7 hours.

At around 50km (plus optional 10km excursion up the Uetliberg mountain), this is a short cycle, although the steep zig zag climbs out of both Albisrieden and Landikon will seriously test your fitness. The possible excursion up to Uetliberg is the only off road section and can also be done by train (although you will need to leave your bike at the station in Uitikon Waldegg). Whilst still enjoyable, it is not as interesting as the alternative over the High Albis.

0km ~ ZURICH

9km ~ ADLISWIL  up80 m   down  40 m

16km ~ ALBISPASSHOHE  up340 m

18km ~ HOCHWACHT  up  85 m   down  30 m

20km ~ ALBISPASSHOHE    up  30 m   down  85 m

21km ~ ALBISHAUS    up  50 m   down  10 m

24km ~ TURLEN (Luzern/Zug Albisstrasse junction)   down  165 m


Possible Excursion:


3km ~ HAUSEN-AM-ALBIS   down  50 m

4km ~ KAPPEL-AM-ALBIS (Zwingli Denkmal)   down  20 m

5km ~ KAPPEL-AM-ALBIS (Kloister Kappel)   down25 m

8km ~ OBER-RIFFERSWIL   up  30 m

9km ~ UNT. RIFFERSWIL    down  10 m


27km ~ UNT. RIFFERSWIL    down  100 m

30km ~ METTMENSTETTEN  up  25 m   down  130 m

33km ~ KNONAU   down  40 m

35km ~ NIEDERWIL up  20 m   down  20 m

38km ~ RUMENTIKON HAGENDORN  up  10 m   down  30 m

Possible Route 1 ~ via farm & forest:

40km ~ St. WOLFGANG  up  50 m

Possible Route 2 ~ via main road:

39km ~ HEILIGKREUZ   up  20 m

41km ~ St. WOLFGANG  up  30 m

46km / 47km  ~ ROTKREUZ  up  20 m   down  45 m

49km / 50km ~ GISIKON → flat

54km / 55km ~ DIERIKON → flat

57km / 58km ~ EBIKON → flat

61km / 62km ~ LUZERN~ Löwendenkmal  up  35 m   down  15 m

65km / 66km ~ LUZERN ~ Bahnhof → flat

Route 16 ~ Zurich – Luzern via Albisrieden

Route 16 ~ Luzern >

~ All routes ~  Introduction ~

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