Leo Büntener

Winterstory Hospental

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1,493m above sea-level, at the foot of the Gotthard Pass and right in the middle of the Urserntal valley.

Being the last village before the Gotthard Pass takes you south, Hospental was a major stopover for horseback traders in the Säumerzeit ("traders' era"). Even its name derives from the word ("hospitale") for hospitality. Tolls were exacted from traders and the locals endured not just the harsh climate but columns of troops passing through on the way north over the Gotthard massif. In 1799, Russia's General Suvorov engaged Napoleon's army here.

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ZToday this pretty village with its original houses and 13th century military tower is well worth a visit.
The Hospental municipality also includes Zumdorf, which is Switzerland's smallest village. Just four people live here all year round (Hospental itself numbers 205 inhabitants).
The hospitality embedded in Hospental's name is alive and well to this day. Holiday lets and hostels cater for visitors all year round. The village is the ideal base camp for hiking the mountain passes in the summer and for cross-country skiing in the winter.