Belvedere: the famous Swiss hotel near the Rhone Glacier (4 photos)

Located in one of the snowiest regions of Switzerland, the Fourcapasse Pass, connecting the cantons of Uri and Valais in the south-central region of the country, is considered one of the “most iconic, exciting and fascinating roads” running in the Swiss Alps.

Photo: WikiImages

The scenic route with sharp turns curving along the beautiful mountain slopes attracts a large number of tourists. There is the Rhone Glacier with an ice grotto — a hundred—meter tunnel glowing from the inside with an unearthly shade of blue – as well as attractive opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and skiing. Some episodes of the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger were even filmed at Fourcapass Pass.

A winding road skirting the mountainside at the top of the pass turns out to be 200 meters from the glacier. It was here, on one of the sharp turns, in 1882, the young hotelier Joseph Seiler built the Belvedere Hotel, which for decades became one of the iconic hotels in the Swiss Alps. Nowhere else in the world is it possible to drive up by car so close to the glacier, check into a room with a balcony overlooking a huge icy river, and then go down a paved path to the glacier located just a couple hundred meters below.

Photo: LoggaWiggler

The construction of the Belvedere Hotel belongs to the last major wave of development that took place throughout Switzerland in the 1880s. During this time, the number of hotels in the canton of Valais increased from 79 in the 1880s to more than 320 in the first decade of the 20th century – 4 times in just three decades. The number of seats increased from 4,000 to more than 15,000 during the same period.

The panoramic view from the Belvedere Hotel attracted a pampered audience, who sometimes stayed there for several weeks in a row during the summer. At the turn of the 20th century, when the hotel industry was booming throughout Switzerland, Joseph Seiler decided on a new extension to the hotel: a gable roof with two additional floors, which gave the hotel its current appearance. The number of beds in the hotel increased to 90 by 1907.

During the 20th century, the number of tourists coming to the Rhone Glacier and the hotel was constantly growing due to the opening of two new railway lines: Furka – Oberalp and the Glacier Express. With the increase in the number of personal vehicles after World War II, more and more people could afford to enjoy a trip along the mountain pass with a stop at the Rhone Glacier and accommodation at the Belvedere Hotel.

Photo: maartenpijn

However, starting in the 1960s, the number of visitors to the Belvedere Hotel and other Alpine hotels began to decline rapidly. Cars have become too powerful and fast, so a trip through the pass, which used to take 2-3 days, has turned into a day trip there and back. Guests who had previously stayed overnight at the hotel now quickly made their way to the Rhone Glacier, had lunch or had a cup of tea at the hotel and left.

The number of guests at the Belvedere and in the village of Glech, located just below the mouth of the Rhone Glacier, where the Seilers built another hotel, has sharply decreased. Since then, the Belvedere Hotel has ceased to be the same.

The hotel closed a couple of years ago, and although there was no official statement on this matter, it will most likely never reopen.

Photo: ilirjan rrumbullaku


Leave a Reply

We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By clicking "Accept", you agree to our use of cookies.