Travel Advice

Visit Tolkien’s Inspiration for Middle Earth

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Last Updated: Mar 10, 2016

New Zealand has become the archetype of what The Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth would look like, especially since director Peter Jackson has used his homeland as the setting of his film adaptation of the book.

However, it was Switzerland that truly inspired JRR Tolkien to fabricate in his imagination creatures such as elves, dwarves, and 4ft-tall hobbits.

Most tourists visit Zurich to shop at Bahnhofstrasse and see the beautiful views offered by the old town of Niederdorf. They also go to this city to head to resorts located in Davos, Klosters of St Mortiz.

However, if you want to go to JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth, head southwest to the region of Bernese Oberland. There, let your imagination take control of your conscious mind and slip pass the real world through the realms of Rivendell, Hobbiton, and other LOTR locations.

When Tolkien was still 19 years old, he trekked the beautiful Bernese Oberland during one summer holiday and ultimately, it consumed him. After 57 years, he expressed in one of his journals how he regretted leaving Jungfrau, which is a place of eternal snows with a pyramid-shaped mountain called Silberhorn peak resting against the dark blue misty skies. Tolkien wrote that it was the “Silvertine” of his dreams. Silvertine is one of the peaks looming over the Dwarven City of Moria.

If you are an aspiring author, a diehard LOTR fan, or someone who has a Hobbit hangover and you are looking to escape to the wonderful world of Middle Earth, you can visit Switzerland and just follow its train networks.

The train network is perfectly efficient since it transports you to the paths that Bilbo or Frodo has taken in their expedition. Tolkien scholars believe that it is the inspiration the Esgorath, Lake-Town from the book The Hobbit, while the mountain village of Mürren is somehow identical to Mount Doom.

Try the aerial rail or cableway that leads you to Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen-Mürren. Experience dining at its rotating restaurant of Piz Gloria. Also, go to Kleine Scheidegg aboard the Wengernalpbahn shuttle to see Eiger peak’s North Face. In Junhfrau stands a three-story giant observation station called Sphincx, which is the highest viewing area in Europe at 3,741m.

Tolkien hiked various mountain passes such as the Grosse Scheidegg until he reached the town of Meiringen near the famous Reichenbach Falls. Tolkien climbed Grimsel Pass, to the Valais. He also reached the Zermatt mountain resort.

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