Meet a local Appenzeller

Photo credits: Joel Lendenmann

Meet a local Appenzeller

As I have mentioned in a previous story, Appenzell is considered one of the most delightful and authentic gems among the Swiss cantons. Mr. Joel Lendenmann, a proud and genuine Appenzeller, has unlocked for Hospitality Stories, the secret charms of Appenzell. He shares with us below the many reasons why Appenzell is a town worth visiting once in your life:

Photo credits: Joel Lendenmann

The secret charms of Appenzell

As I have mentioned in a previous story, Appenzell is considered one of the most delightful and authentic gems among the Swiss cantons. Mr. Joel Lendenmann, a proud and genuine Appenzeller, has unlocked for Hospitality Stories, the secret charms of Appenzell. He shares with us below the many reasons why Appenzell is a town worth visiting once in your life:

Appenzeller Cheese – Appenzell’s trademark

“Switzerland is very well known for various types of locally-produced delicious cheese,” says Joel. “One of the most important trademarks of Appenzell is our cheese. It has a long tradition and characteristic taste, based on local recipes (considered well-kept secrets, as you can imagine) is combined with a premium ageing process and a rich mix of different herbs, which are used for its production.”

The story behind the coloured houses

In Appenzell, the facades of all the houses are decorated with different colours, themes and designs and resemble an open-air art gallery. Joel reveals, the charming story behind the coloured houses of Appenzell. 200 years ago, when local Appenzeller Johannes Hugentobler started painting his house in various colours and patterns, his neighbours grew jealous. Why should their homes be just dull old grey, without any bright colours or designs? So, they decided to paint their houses too, using many colours, and then, as one could imagine, all residents, spurred on by each other, painted their residences in various colours, inventing their own eye-catching designs and themes. Each house owner can decide the colours and patterns for themselves. For instance, the town pharmacist used as his theme “plants and herbs” symbolizing health; other houses have family signs painted. Each dwelling has a different theme. Nowadays, the colours and images of each house are deemed as protected monuments. This means that if you buy a house here, you are not allowed to change the theme, only the colours. This preserves the uniformity of this very special town.

Photo credits: Joel Lendenmann

Sunrises and sunsets in Appenzell

One of Joel’s most cherished childhood memories is camping out with his friends in a tent in the Appenzell hills and being woken up early by bird song to enjoy the incredible sight of Appenzell at sunrise. “The colours of both sunset and sunrise in Appenzell are just amazing – and so too is the alpine scenery!” says Joel.

A charmed childhood of happy village life in Appenzell

Another of Joel’s strongest childhood memories of Appenzell is the rich community life right at the heart of the town. Life in friendly Appenzell is similar to that of any village: people know each other, they gather for dinner; drink the famous local beer and let their hair down together in the town centre, surrounded by friends, family and little shops.

Voting like Ancient Athenians in Appenzell

In all Swiss cantons, Swiss citizens can vote also by mail. Residents fill out the designated forms and then post them to the authorities. This is not the case in Appenzell: every year, on the last Sunday in April, the voting takes place in central Landesgemeinde square. All residents, wearing their local traditional formal costumes, meet at the Landesgemeinde to cast their votes. Raising their hands is a formal acceptance of the law, exactly the same way it was back in Ancient Athens. 2020 was the only year that this unique voting system was suspended, due to corona virus health measures. I adore this kind of local custom which shines a fascinating light on the culture and heritage of this colourful region.

Photo credits: Joel Lendenmann
Photo credits: Joel Lendenmann

The traditional costumes of the Appenzellers

The traditional Appenzeller costume is a jewel in its own right. The dresses of the women (hats included) can cost up to 10.000 CHF (around 9.300 euros) because they are embroidered by hand. The costumes also have great sentimental value, being inherited from one generation to another. Appenzellers wear their traditional costumes on important occasions and celebrations.

I would like to thank Joel for his truly authentic stories and for unlocking the secret charms of Appenzell for Hospitality Stories.

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Photo credits: Joel Lendenmann