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Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch

Schweizer Alpen Jungfrau-Aletsch (in new window)

The famous Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks at the very heart of the Jungfrau-Aletsch region.© swissworld.org

The Jungfrau – Aletsch – Bietschhorn World Natural Heritage Site lies at the very heart of the Alps. This fascinating and diverse site is a region of superlatives: the largest glaciated area in Eurasia, the longest glacier in Europe, 900-metre-thick ice, nine mountains standing over 4,000 metres high… in short, 850 square kilometres of unsurpassable natural beauty.

Facts & figures

  • What? High alpine landscape, 50% of which is glaciated and 80% with no vegetation cover.
  • Where? Cantons of Valais (57%) and Bern (43%), Switzerland.
  • UNESCO inscription: “Jungfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn” in 2001; extension and renaming of the site to “Swiss Alps Jungfrau Aletsch” in 2007.
  • Why? Site of exceptional natural beauty, outstanding example representing the development of landforms, as well as significant ongoing ecological and biological processes (Criteria 7, 8 and 9 of UNESCO Operational Guidelines).
A cairn by the Aletsch glacier (in new window)

A cairn by the Aletsch glacier© ch.ch

Background

The region is one of the most spectacular high alpine landscapes in the world. Around 50% of this vast area are glaciated and are an outstanding record of the geological processes that led to the formation of the High Alps. This World Natural Heritage Site is an exceptional record of how glaciers and mountains are formed, and of the effects wrought by climate change. However, there is much more to this World Natural Heritage Site than mountains and other natural wonders. It is also an important cultural landscape, particularly since its UNESCO extension in 2007. The challenge for the future is striking a sustainable balance between the economic development of the surrounding region and the protection of the natural environment. The aim of the municipalities in the region is precisely to preserve Swiss Alps Jungfrau Aletsch for current and future generations alike.

World Heritage and Swissness

Switzerland is Europe’s reservoir. Although Switzerland may account for a mere 0.4% of the continent’s total surface area, it is the source of 6% of Europe’s freshwater reserves. We have the Alps to thank for our abundant rain and snowfall, trapping the moist air that blows in from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Two thirds of this rain and snowfall are exported – to the North Sea via the Rivers Aare and Rhine to the North Sea, and to the Mediterranean via the Rhone. The Jungfrau-Aletsch area feeds both of these major drainage basins. Switzerland and Europe depend not only on the lakes for their water. Firms and glaciers are also important sources of water (26%). You will find more information on water and the impact of climate change in the Resources section of our website.

Let’s go!

Localization of the site on a map

Coordinates:
46.500000, 8.033333

Getting there by public transport: This World Natural Heritage Site which includes a total of 26 municipalities is accessible by public transport both from the North and the South (train, PostBus, cableways). Viewing tip: for a good view of the Aletsch glacier, take the cable car from Mörel to Riederalp. Mörel is easy to get to: from Geneva, Zurich, Basle, Berne, Milan, a direct train will take you to Brig/Visp. From here, you take the Matterhorn-Gotthard train to Mörel.

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