HalalBooking guide to halal-friendly holidays in Switzerland
Switzerland is a small jewel knotted right in the centre of Europe, modest in size but extravagant in reputation and activities. Swiss culture is unlike any other culture, its character is an amalgam of French, German and Italian magnetism as well as a little-known language, Romansh. Switzerland will enchant you with the magic of grand mountain scenery, melting chocolate and European history within its small borders.
Islam in Switzerland
The history of Islam in Switzerland is difficult to decipher, because of the dichotomy in the religious landscape in Europe. However, Professor Manfred W. Wenner in his academic work "The Arab/Muslim Presence In Medieval Central Europe" reveals evidence of the presence of Muslims in Switzerland in 930 through linguistic vestiges. For example, the mountain Monte Moro (the mountain of the Moors), located between Italy and Switzerland, and the Ain river, which comes from the Arabic word "al ain" meaning source in Arabic, which is in the department of Ain on the Swiss and French border.
Today, most Muslims live in the big cities of Switzerland. Although Switzerland is known to be associated with the wealth of the United Arab Emirates, most Muslims in Switzerland come from the Balkans. Statistics show that 76% of Muslims live in the German part of Switzerland and come from Kosovo, Turkey, Albania and North Africa. The controversial Swiss documentary "The Converts of Allah" and the article "Why Islam? The story of three female converts“ on the Swissinfo information platform, highlight the wave of women who convert to Islam and address this misunderstanding.
Mosques in Switzerland
Although there is a mosque in all the capitals of Switzerland, it is the country with the fewest mosques compared to the number of Muslims with only 260 mosques in the whole country and 1 mosque for every 4000 believers.
Here are a few :
Bashkësia Islame Shqiptare (Mosque of the Albanian Islamic Community), Bern
This mosque was founded by Albanian immigrants, with a beautiful Turkish interior.
Mahmood Mosque, Zürich
The first mosque in Switzerland with a minaret. It is open 24 hours a day.
Petit-Saconnex Mosque, Geneva
The largest mosque in Switzerland with a capacity of 1,500 worshippers.
A Turkish mosque that has separate prayer rooms for men and women, a small shop and even a hairdresser.
Swiss gastronomy is renowned for its regional ingredients and luxurious flavours. Unfortunately for Muslims, cheese-based recipes like fondue, raclette, and cheese crust often use white wine, and meat and pork are staples in Swiss cuisine. There are, however, vegetarian options such as Älplermagronen (a pasta recipe), Rösti (potato pancakes), Zibelechueche (onion pie) and Cholera (vegetable pie).
Switzerland has no shortage of desserts: meringues are eaten with cream, Cuchaule AOP is a Swiss brioche and Haselnuss Lebkuchen are hazelnut biscuits.
As Switzerland is also an international model in the culinary field, it is easy to find a varied cuisine in halal restaurants.
Nature in Switzerland
Switzerland offers a diverse and grandiose nature. Majestic mountains, spectacular waterfalls and calm lakes guarantee adventure for all nature lovers.
Matterhorn, Little Matterhorn
The Matterhorn, one of the highest mountains in the Swiss Alps, is also one of the most photographed in the world. It is popular for its stunning views, hiking trails and the Stellisee and Riffelsee lakes below. The gondola company Matterhorn Glacier Ride takes you to the height of 3,883 m in nine minutes.
Rhine Falls, Neuhausen am Rheinfall
The Rhine Falls are a series of tireless falls that provide a sensory experience. Board a boat that will take you close to the waterfall to feel the tremor of the gushing water and enjoy the incredible view of nature and Laufen Castle.
Aare Gorge, Halsi Valley
The Aare Gorge in the Hasli Valley is 1,400 m long. Visitors can venture onto the footbridge built of limestone which will guide them safely through a fascinating world.
Jungfrau and Jungfraujoch station
The 4,158 m high summit of the Jungfrau, one of the most impressive peaks in the Swiss Alps, is hidden in the massif of the Bernese Alps. You can take a train to the highest station in Europe, the Jungfraujoch, at 3,463 m above sea level. Train tickets are expensive, but the adventurous experience is worth it!
Lake Geneva, king of lakes in Switzerland and of the Alps, is one of the largest in the whole country. The lake connects the French border and extends beyond Lausanne to Montreux. You can admire spectacular panoramas all along the lake, for example the Château Chillon perched on the shore not far from Montreux, or the Lavaux vineyards planted by the Romans.
Main cities in Switzerland
The cultural divisions in the major cities of Switzerland are one of the interesting facts that make the country so attractive. The German region is the most dominant in Switzerland with the cities of Zurich, Bern and Basel. To the west of the country, Lausanne and Geneva are French-speaking cities. To the south, Lugano is Italian in spirit and in name.
Bern is the capital of the country thanks to its central position between the German and French region. And yet it is often overshadowed by other more sumptuous cities. Bern is home to unique sights: stroll through the perfectly aligned streets of the Old Town and snap photos of the Zytglogge, an astronomical clock in the west of the city. Next, visit the rose garden which is particularly beautiful in the summer months, and finally, don't miss the Zentrum Paul Klee museum, built in the design of an oscillating wave. Most halal restaurants are near the university.
Zurich, designated the “costliest city in Switzerland”, enjoys the exclusive status of being the financial and banking centre of Switzerland. The lifestyle in Zurich is filled with high-end shopping, luxurious leisure and countless choices of shops, cafes and chocolatiers in Niederdorfstrasse, Zurich's promenade. The Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum), housed in a French Renaissance-style castle, is one of the most visited museums in the whole country. The museum takes its visitors on a journey through Swiss art and history from the Middle Ages to modern times. You will find many halal restaurants in the city centre.
In Basel, the cultural capital of Switzerland, there is a museum for every square kilometre. Bridges, streets and rivers create picturesque, charming and romantic scenes. The city overflows with an incomparable cultural heritage with an eclectic choice of museums. The most popular are the Fine Arts Museum and the Stationery Museum. The University of Basel's Pharmacy History Museum is key to understanding the impact of the city's chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Climb to the highest point of the city, the Münsterhügel (Minster Hill), the site of the former Roman fort that is now the Münsterplatz, an elegant square. The city centre has a modest choice of Turkish and Albanian restaurants.
Geneva, located on the shores of Lake Geneva, facing a fantastic alpine setting, is a cosmopolitan city steeped in history, which is home to the European headquarters of the United Nations. Discover the typical sites of Geneva such as the Jet d'eau inaugurated in 1891, visible from a distance of 10 km, the famous Palais des Nations, site of transformative events, and the Place du Bourg-de-four, an unmissable center that preserves the town's identity. The shores of Lake Geneva enliven the landscapes of Geneva with its greenery and alpine mountains. The Pâquis-centre has halal restaurants.
Lugano, a city that shines with its clear skies, is the sunniest city in the whole country. Located to the south, it shares an almost Mediterranean climate and is sometimes nicknamed the “Swiss Monte Carlo”. Lake Lugano is a truly breathtaking spot in the sunlight and Parco San Grato is a floral paradise in the alpine fields. The summit of the small mountain Monte Bre at 925 m height can be reached with the funicular or by hiking. The three castles of Bellinzona, Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro, with their medieval defensive walls, are classified as World Heritage by Unesco and represent the history of a long and complicated region.
Lucerne and its surroundings are considered the ideal microcosm for living a Swiss experience. The city is picturesque and preserves historic and impressive sites such as the Chapel Bridge, the Ramparts of the Musegg and the Lion Monument. What makes Lucerne special is its idyllic nature mixed with innovative inventions. From the Bürgenstock spa, you can take Europe's largest open-air lift, the Hammetschwand lift, to the Hammetschwand lookout point. And the traditional open wooden carts with which one reaches the Mountain of Pilatus are perfect technologies to recognize Swiss ingenuity.