There is a place in Switzerland where the idyll of Heidi's world becomes real: fresh mountain air, picturesque little houses and the distant ringing of goat bells. In the Heidi village, tourists can immerse themselves in the magical pages of Johanna Spyri's famous work.
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With thick hiking boots and in joyful anticipation of the Swiss delicacies, I set out for a walk through the lines of one of the most famous children's books. With the constant mountain panorama in the background, which seemed to have sprung straight from a canvas, an enchanting story came to life before my eyes.
Perched on rolling hills among the lush alpine meadows, the Heidihaus stretches its facade upward as if it has survived the decades since its creation with a smile on its face. And when you enter the grandfather's house, it's as if the grumpy Almöhi could step out the door at any moment, ready to chat with you about life, the mountains and maybe even cheese.
When literature became reality
The idea of making the world of Heidi tangible grew out of a deep appreciation for the timeless story and its connection to Swiss culture.
It was in the years following the publication of Johanna Spyri's classic "Heidi" that the idea arose that the beauty of the Alpine landscape in which the stories are set should not exist only on the pages of a book.
Swiss entrepreneur Willy Michel was one of the main initiators and visionaries behind the Heidi Village. His passion for the Heidis world led to the realization of this project.
Over time, historic buildings were identified that served as inspiration for the settings of Heidi's adventures. These buildings were carefully restored or recreated to preserve the authenticity of the setting. Every beam, window and brick helped capture the feeling readers have felt about the Heidi books for generations. Everything was designed to match the style of the 1880s era in which Heidi lived.
The Heididorf was officially opened to the public in 1998. It is located in Maienfeld, in the canton of Grisons, in the east of the country - which is already titled Heidiland.
Active and interactive immersion in the book
Imagine you could witness firsthand how Heidi gets her grandfather to eat goat cheese. Or how she skips across the alpine meadows between the goats and Geißen-Peter. The Heidi Village regularly hosts interactive performances and shows where actors in period dress bring the characters to life. These performances offer a unique opportunity to experience the stories and become part of the action.
The surroundings of the Heidi village are characterized by breathtaking beauty and there are various hiking trails that lead you through the idyllic alpine landscape. So you can literally walk in the footsteps of Heidi and feel her love for the landscape.
The Heidi Village also offers workshops and activities especially for children. From craft classes to treasure hunts and interactive learning opportunities ? young visitors can actively engage in the world of Heidi and learn about the culture and traditions of the region through play.
A special feature is also the smallest post office in Switzerland with its own Heidi stamp. Who wouldn't suddenly want to write a letter to their loved ones?
But the most beautiful thing in the Dörfli is undoubtedly the reconstruction of the Heidi cottage and the grandfather's house. You can explore the house where Heidi and her grandfather lived and feel the humble but warm atmosphere.
Another fascinating replica is the school that plays a significant role in the Heidi stories. Here visitors can not only admire the scenery, but also take the opportunity to learn and play like Heidi in the Alps.
The school's architecture and furnishings reflect the simple elegance of 19th century rural schools. As with other attractions in the Heidi Village, lively performances are staged, with actors re-enacting historic school lessons. This allows visitors to sit in Heidi's school desk and experience the educational system of the time firsthand.
However, whether it makes you want to go to school more (and on vacation to boot) is another question entirely.
A story becomes a meeting place
The Heidi Village is an excellent example of literary tourism, where the attraction is based on the traces of a well-known literary character or story. It shows how literature can be used to attract tourists from all over the world while preserving cultural heritage.
In any case, it made me want to delve into the book again and compare my memories with the impressions.