A village on two levels – Gurtnellen-Wiler and Gurtnellen-Dorf
Back in the 14th century, the village of Gurtnellen was on the Alpine trading route known as the Säumerweg, but it was probably first settled several hundred years earlier. The name derives from "cort-in-ella", which in Romanic means "little courtyard". Today Gurtnellen boasts Michelin starred restaurants and idyllic year-round excursions (to Lake Arnisee, for example). Winter hiking, children's play areas, and relaxing on the Arni sun terrace are just some of the pleasures on offer here.
Gurtnellen lies at the geographical centre of the canton of Uri at 935m (Dorf) and 741m (Wiler) above sea-level. From traders to soldiers to pilgrims, millions of outsiders have over the centuries passed through the area, and especially through Gurtnellen-Wiler, which is situated on the Gotthard Pass. Napoleon's troops passed through at the end of the 18th century, as did, much later, waves of immigrant Italian labourers during the heyday of the quarrying industry. The Antonini Quarry, not far from Wassen, can still be visited today.
The inhabitants of Gurtnellen have always had to live with the threat of avalanches, and over the centuries have protected their houses with various fortifications. The themed trail at Geissberg provides an interesting insight into this aspect of local life. Like the granite that was once mined from the mountains here, the villagers' steely determination is what has given this tiny community its unique identity.