Ballenberg, Swiss Open-Air Museum
Acting as a microcosm of Swiss rural tradition and history, the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum covers 66 hectares in area and displays a collection of around 100 historic buildings from different regions and different times, all carefully reconstructed in scenic Alpine foothills. The museum was opened in 1978 with just 16 wooden chalets and barns; since then stables, bakeries, mills, ornate half-timbered townhouses, a chapel, and cuckoo-clock-cute chalets have been added to the mix, with many Swiss francs spent relocating these buildings brick by brick. They are located among flower gardens and crop fields to create a convincing 17th-century rural community, where horses and cows – complete with tinkling bells – roam free and costumed characters farm the land, work the waterwheel, weave textiles and make cheese and chocolate. There are exhibitions of clothing, tools and herbal medicines in many of the buildings; a full schedule of craft demonstrations –and even Swiss wrestling – throughout the day; pony-and-trap rides across the park; and beautiful mountain vistas to fall in love with.