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The Schillerstein, on the right as you cruise past the peninsula, is a spectacular natural rock obelisk extending nearly 85 feet up out of the lake, onto which has been carved a gigantic dedication: "To the author of Wilhelm Tell, Friedrich von Schiller. 1859." About 10 minutes beyond the rock, the lake steamer pulls up at the quaint, 19th-century landing dock for perhaps the most historically significant site in central Switzerland: the Rütli Meadow, where the confederates of Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Uri are said to have met in 1307 to renew the 1291 Oath of Eternal Alliance.
A five-minute walk up the hillside brings you to a grassy plateau where a rock and flagpole mark the sacred location. Nearby is a medieval rock bench nestled by towering trees—the perfect spot to think about another monumental event that took place here centuries later: amid threats of a 1940 German invasion, General Guisan, Swiss army commander in chief, summoned hundreds of officers to the meadow to reaffirm their commitment to the Swiss Confederation in a secret, stirring ceremony. Afterward, head back down the hill to study the small video presentation (perhaps also take a photo of a costumed historical interpreter) and be sure to stop in the time-burnished, 19th-century chalet snack shop, with its lovely stained-glass salons and picturesque wood verandas.
Rütli Meadow at a Glance
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