A BRIEF HISTORY
250 years ago, the poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was fascinated by the natural diversity of Andermatt: „Of all the places I know, this is the dearest and most interesting to me.”
The turbulent history of the region, specifically of the Gotthard Pass, goes even further back in time. Around the year 1200, the impressive Schöllenen Gorge was conquered. Later generations thought the construction of a bridge over the raging Reuss seemed so daring that they ascribed it to the devil. This newly opened gateway to the south was soon being regularly traversed by industrious traders. Locals profited hugely from this trade route as they were the only ones allowed to carry goods over the Gotthard.
There are also many legends surrounding the year 1799, which was the year the Russian general Alexander Suworow drove out Napoleon's troops from the Schöllenen Gorge.
In the 19th century, Andermatt became one of the first holiday destinations in the Alps. The Grand Hotel Bellevue, opened in 19721872, was the first luxury hotel in the Gotthard region and attracted illustrious guests such as Queen Victoria. Andermatt soon became one of the most renowned holiday resorts in Switzerland. This was largely due to the traditional openness of the Andermatt locals. In 1937, one of the first Swiss ski lifts became operational in the Nätschen Gütsch area.
Even larger feats of engineering were to follow. A railway tunnel through the Gotthard was built in 1882 followed by an autobahn road tunnel in 1980. The latest tunnel through the Gotthard was built in 2016; the 57 km long Neat Gotthard Base Tunnel has the distinction of being the longest train tunnel in the world.
Tunnels are not the only way to traverse the mountains. The Andermatt region has spectacular mountain passes, one of which was featured in the 1964 James Bond film “Goldfinger”. Sean Connery's chase scene over the Furka Pass has attained legendary status in cinematic history.
Andermatt Swiss Alps is another milestone in the history of Andermatt. Building of the resort started in 2009 and, in 2013, the 5- star deluxe hotel The Chedi Andermatt opened its doors. It is more than fitting that the luxury hotel is located on the exact same spot where the Grand Hotel Bellevue once welcomed its guests. The first apartments in the resort were ready for occupation in 2014.
1 | General Alexander Suworow 2 | Queen Victoria 3 | Sean Connery 4 | Dichter Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 5 | Teufelsbrücke (Zeichnung)
"OF ALL THE PLACE I KNOW, IT'S THE DEAREST AND MOST INTERESTING."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(after visiting Ursental in 1779)
HISTORY OF HOTEL BELLEVUE
The grounds of the The Chedi Andermatt Hotel are on the site of the former Hotel Bellevue. The luxury hotel in the Alps brought Andermatt fame far and wide as a holiday and spa resort.
How charming and elegant. A guest has just performed a skilful pirouette on the hotel ice rink. Wait for it – perhaps it will be followed by a double lutz. At 5 pm it’s time for high tea, to be enjoyed in the company of other guests with muted salon music in the hotel lobby.
In 1872 the Andermatt hotelier Sebastian Christen opened the luxury Bellevue Hotel. In the same year Louis Favre started on the construction of the Gotthard railway tunnel. Ten years later the mammoth project was completed – with serious consequences for Urseren Valley: the mail coach service was discontinued and suddenly tourist traffic over the passes ceased. And then Sebastian Christen hit upon a brilliant idea. He converted the luxury Bellevue Hotel into a spa and advertised Andermatt across half of Europe as a resort with an excellent climate at the heart of the Swiss Alps. And he was highly successful. Guests flocked to the spa, predominantly from England. In the summer the hotel, now renamed Grand Hotel Bellevue, organised open carriage rides over the passes. Or night walks to the Devil’s Bridge, illuminated by Bengal fireworks. Horse-drawn sleight rides were offered in winter. Later, new sports like skiing, bobsleighing, skijöring and curling emerged on the scene. A staff of up to 80 attended to the needs of the many guests at Grand Hotel Bellevue.
The outbreak of the First World War brought an abrupt end to the glittering Belle Epoque. Like many luxury hotels in the Alps the Grand Hotel Bellevue never recovered from the crisis. After the Second World War, the hotel closed its doors forever. In 1986 the historic building was finally demolised. And thus ended the hotel’s century-old history.
Mere coincidence or providence? At exactly the same place where the era of modern tourism dawned in Andermatt with the Bellevue around 150 years ago, a new chapter unfolded in the story of Andermatt luxury hotels in the shape of The Chedi Andermatt Hotel on 6 December 2013.