Lake Walensee connects two Swiss cantons, St. Gallen and Glarus, and forms the western tip of the resort region known as “Heidiland” after the world-famous Heidi stories by Swiss writer Johanna Sperry. On the northern side, the Churfirsten mountain range rises almost vertically from the water, while on the other side of the lake, the Flumserberg is also striking with its height of more than two thousand meters in places. The valley, reminiscent of the Norwegian fjord, was once “cut” by a huge Rhine glacier.
Upon reaching the site, it becomes clear that Walen Lake has been a challenge to traffic since ancient times due to the steep rocks rising from the lake, sometimes over a thousand metres. This is why the lakeside roads are mainly hewn out of the rock surface, passing through a kind of galleries and tunnels.
There are many small places around the lake and each one has its own speciality. Case in point Quinten: This small, car-free town is particularly interesting and unique because of its almost Mediterranean climate. In a place well sheltered from the cold north winds, certain types of grapes live, as well as kiwis and figs. Moreover, the settlement is unique in Switzerland and can only be reached by boat or on foot.
To the west of Quentin is the small village of Bitlis. Here, when the snow melts or after heavy rains, the almost 720-meter-high Seerenbach waterfall, which is one of the highest in Europe, is truly impressive. Thanks to the mild climate, mixed chestnut and linden forests also grow around Lake Walen.
The landscapes of the region are also impressive from a geological point of view, researchers have long been looking for an explanation of why the layers of ancient rocks are located on top of the younger ones here. After intense scientific debate, at the beginning of the 20th century, they came to the conclusion that the giant rock layers were folded on top of each other.
What do we know about the history of the region? Well, the Walenstadt Museum can help us with that. In 15 BC, Roman Emperor Augustus commissioned his sons, Tiberius Claudius Nero and Nero Claudius Drusus, to subdue the Celtic tribes north of the Alps. Tiberius’ army pushed east from Gaul, using the rivers and lakes at the foot of the Alps for logistical purposes. To protect these supply routes, watchtowers were built along their route, for example at today’s Quinten and Walenstadt, but nothing remains today. Not much is known about the former inhabitants of the area, but it certainly could have been inhabited because of the mild climate. Close to Grapplang and St. . The first rulers of the region were the bishops of the seat of the canton of today’s Graubünden, from the 7th century. This is likely when Walenstadt got its name.
And one more insider tip: A tour to the slopes of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mount Sardona starts from Lake Wallen. The so-called tectonic circuit of Sardonna (Sardona tectonic arena) provides a unique insight into the history of the origin of the Alps and valleys. The line visible from afar is sometimes called the “magic line”, as rocks between 250 and 300 million years old have been “squeezed” onto much younger rocks “only” 35-50 million years old in part. The region is quite literally a bastion of geological research, bearing witness to the building processes and plate tectonics of the mountains. It has been studied by scientists from around the world for more than two centuries.