Report: 6. Appenzell

Appenzell, in the northeast of Switzerland, is a unique canton. In actuality, it comprises two half-cantons, Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden, the former almost entirely agricultural and Catholic, the latter more industrial and Protestant. Oddly, Appenzell is completely surrounded by the canton of St. Gallen. Appenzell's landscape is unusual, consisting of mostly meadows with some wooded areas, interrupted (or underlain) by rock formations that appear to have swung up out of the ground:

37. A shot of the Appenzell landscape shortly before sunset.

Also, its particularly independent people have held on to many traditional cultural elements, a few examples being ornate ceremonial costumes, culinary specialties, and folk landscape paintings. Interestingly, because of this loyalty to tradition (the negatives of it as well as the positives — in Innerrhoden, women were granted suffrage on the cantonal level only in 1990), Appenzellers are often prejudicially regarded by other Swiss people as country bumpkins. But the built environment goes a good length in belying this perception. Appenzell's architecture, like that of several other Swiss regions, is unique. Once you've been around it for just a bit, it is instantly recognizable, both in real life and in the traditional landscape paintings, which, as Marcia Lieberman writes in Walking Switzerland the Swiss Way, are "almost indistinguishable" from the physical landscape itself (p. 255) (for an illustration of this, compare 38 with 39 below).

38. An example of Appenzeller folk painting.

39. A typical Appenzeller farmhouse in real life.

Farmhouses, the predominant building type since Appenzell is primarily agricultural, are characterized by several unusual features: the gable of the house portion faces front while the barn's roofline runs perpendicular to the house's; the house has whole rows of adjacent windows in front that often take up most of the house's width; the house's façade is paneled; the side wall of the house is often extended past the front wall a little ways, for wind protection; and often the building is painted in multiple bright colors. Picture 39 above shows a farmhouse with most of these elements. The Appenzeller style is not limited to older farmhouses; village houses, as well as modern buildings, almost always reflect the farmhouse style in some way or another:

40. House on a small plot of land in the town of Appenzell. Note the projecting wall on the left.

41. Modern industrial building in downtown Appenzell still shows the influence of tradition in its paneled façade and mixture of colors.

The town of Appenzell, which is the capital of Innerrhoden, is filled with tall, colorful, fanciful houses, especially along its main street and square:

42. Appenzell Main Street medley. Note all the colors, designs on the panels, and roof forms, some with classical or Flemish-like influences.

The siding of houses is, if not smooth wood paneling, sometimes small semicircular shingles, which show up in other places as well, such as the Emmental and the Bernese Oberland:

43. Round shingles in (top) Appenzell and (bottom) Langnau, Emmental.