Wildkirchli and Äscher
Wildkirchli the cradle of tourism in Appenzell
For centuries the Wildkirchli area has exerted a singular appeal and is still today one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Appenzellerland.
A cable car transports visitors in comfort from Wasserauen up to Ebenalp. From Ebenalp, a short walk on a well-maintained hiking trail passes through the Wildkirchli Caves to the hermitage and the chapel. The trail then continues eastwards along a rock face, through a wooden gallery, to Berggasthaus Aescher, a mountain inn and restaurant.
The Cave Chapel was established in 1621; the Hermit’s House was built in 1658 and offered sanctuary to hermits until 1853. It later became an inn. Today the small museum is a reconstruction of the former Hermit’s House and was built in 1972 on the site of the old inn.
The hermits and herdsmen began selling food and drink on Alp Aescher as far back as 1800. During the early 19th century, the mountain chalet gradually evolved into Berggasthaus Aescher, one of the oldest inns in Switzerland.
Enjoying a spectacular location nestled on a rock face 100 metres high, the mountain hostelry has always been – and continues to be – extremely popular. Indeed, the Aescher was named “Mountain Inn of the Year 2012” by a jury comprising experts from the fields of conservation, architecture, history and the hotel and restaurant industry.
It is also famed on news portals and blogs for its unique beauty. The Huffington Post, the USA’s most-read online newspaper, named Berggasthaus Aescher the “world’s most interesting restaurant”, while Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher extolled the extraordinary ambience of this stunning location on Facebook.
The Aescher photo (see image, above) taken by Peter Böhi from the Swiss town of Altstätten even adorned the front cover of a book entitled “Destination of a Lifetime” issued by National Geographic. This magazine is renowned for its spectacular photographs of the natural world and is published in 30 languages and 50 countries with a total circulation of 2.5 million copies. It is the oldest monthly journal on the market with an uninterrupted publishing history.
Wildkirchli guided tour
Duration: 1 – 1½ hours
Dates and times: On request
Participants: For families and groups of up to 25 persons
Start of tour: Cable car valley station in Wasserauen
Provider: Appenzellerland Tourismus AI
Hauptgasse 4, CH-9050 Appenzell, T 071 788 96 41, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.appenzell.info
Visitors to the Hermit’s House can view attractive temporary exhibitions focusing on different historical aspects of this important cultural monument.
From the foundation of the hermitage to 1853, the house was occupied by around two dozen laymen, who lived solitary lives in the Wildkirchli as guardians of this holy place. The hermits rang the bell five times each day at prayer times. They were permitted to keep two goats and received butter, cheese and whey from the local herdsmen. After hermit Anton Fässler died when collecting leaves in 1853, the hermitage was no longer occupied, and the “Wildkirchli” inn was subsequently built on the site of the derelict hermit’s house.