The Swiss Pyramid
The Niesen is a mountain of slate. Its history began around 70 million years ago when layers of slate were deposited on the bed of the ancient Mediterranean sea. With the folding of the Alps, the Niesen was shifted up from the south to its present position.
Yesen (the old name of the Niesen)
The original name was Berg Yesen. «An Yesen» was eventually shortened to Niesen. Yesen is nothing other than the yellow gentian, which flowers to this day on the Niesen. The roots of this plant were dug up and used as remedies, expecially in the olden days. This remedy tastes bitter but is supposed to improve appetite, strenghten the stomach, lower temperature, improve libido and the quality of blood.
Demons and Dragons
It was only in the 19th century that mountain climbing became popular. Before that the belief was that mountains were the place where demons and dragons lived (Drunengalm is another mountain in the Niesen chain and «Drunen» means dragon).
Berghaus Niesen Kulm
The first guesthouse was built on the Niesen Kum in 1856, 50 years before the funicular. All food and beverage had to be carried up the mountain. The ordinary guest climbed the Niesen on foot, but the well-to-do hired horeses or mules or were taken up in sedan chairs carried by four men. In 1859 such a carrier earned 8 swiss francs a day to climb the 1700 meters from Wimmis to the top of the Niesen and a hired horse cost 15-20 swiss francs. Quite a sum in those days. In 2002 was the opening of the transparent restaurant pavillon to the public.
The composer Johannes Brahms climbed the Niesen in 1886. He was not very enthusiastic about the hard and long climb but he found the view at the top was worth it.
Niesen Funicular - 100 years jubilee
26th August 1906 was the first day of work on the construction of the new funicular railway to the Niesen summit. Until 1910, an average of over 200 men were employed on this challenging construction. In those days there were neither cranes nor helicopters. This complicated construction was achieved with the use of an auxiliary timber structure and manual labour. The Niesen Railway began services on 15th July 1910 and the first guests were carried up the mountain.
World record - the longest stairway in the world
The stairway alongside to the Niesen funicular has 11'674 steps. According to the Guiness Book of Records this is the longest stairway in the world. Unfortunately we have to strictly forbid you from climbing up this way - unless you belong to our maintenance team.