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Rigi behind Lake Lauerz
Highest point
PeakRigi Kulm
Elevation1,797.5 m (5,897 ft) [1]
Prominence1,290 m (4,230 ft) [1]
Isolation13.1 km (8.1 mi) [2]
Coordinates47°03′24″N 8°29′08″E / 47.05667°N 8.48556°E / 47.05667; 8.48556Coordinates: 47°03′24″N 8°29′08″E / 47.05667°N 8.48556°E / 47.05667; 8.48556
Rigi is located in Switzerland
Location in Switzerland
CantonSchwyz and Lucerne
Parent rangeSchwyzer Alps
Topo mapSwiss Federal Office of Topography swisstopo
Easiest routeTrain and Cable-car

The Rigi (or Mount Rigi; also known as Queen of the Mountains) is a mountain massif of the Alps, located in Central Switzerland. The whole massif is almost entirely surrounded by the water of three different bodies of water: Lake Lucerne, Lake Zug and Lake Lauerz. The range is in the Schwyzer Alps, and is split between the cantons of Schwyz and Lucerne, although the main summit, named Rigi Kulm, at 1,798 meters above sea level, lies within the canton of Schwyz.

The Rigi Kulm and other areas, such as the resort of Rigi Kaltbad, are served by Europe's oldest mountain railways, the Rigi Railways. The whole area offers many activities such as skiing or sledging in the winter, and hiking in the summer.


Name of peak Height above sea (in meter) Canton
Rigi Kulm 1,797.5 m (5,897 ft) SZ
Rotstock 1,658 m (5,440 ft) LU/SZ border
Dosse 1,684 m (5,525 ft) LU/SZ border
Scheidegg 1,658 m (5,440 ft) SZ
Vitznauerstock (LU)/Gersauerstock (SZ) 1,452 m (4,764 ft) LU/SZ border
Rigi Hochflue (Urmiberg) 1,698 m (5,571 ft) SZ


Depiction of Rigi as the center of the Swiss Confederacy (Albrecht von Bonstetten, 1479)

The name Rigi is from Swiss Old High German *rigî "horizontal stratification, strip, band", from OHG rîhan "gird; pleat, string", cf. OHG rîga "row, stripe, furrow", after the horizontal rock ledges and grass strips surrounding the mountain from west to east.[3][4] The name is first recorded in 1350 as Riginun.

The name was interpreted as Regina montium "queen of mountains" by Albrecht von Bonstetten (1479), who however gives Rigena as alternative form.[5]

Bonstetten's interpretation as Regina was influential in the 17th century, and was still repeated in 18th-century travelogues. Karl Zay (Goldau und seine Gegend, 1807) criticized this latinization, arguing for mons rigidus instead. Later in the 19th century, many authors repeated either rigidus or regina as the name's supposed origin. The two possibilities were also adduced as explanation the name's grammatical gender alternating between masculine and feminine.[6] Brandstetter (Die Rigi, 1914) finally discredited these interpretations and established the origin in Old High German rîga (whence modern German Reihe, Reigen; cognate with English row).


Rigi-Kulm station with trains of Vitznau-Rigi and Arth-Rigi railway
Postcard from Rigi (1906).

There are multiple public transport options available to ascend Mt. Rigi:

  • By rack railway from Arth-Goldau and Vitznau, operated by the Rigi Bahnen. The Vitznau-Rigi-Bahn started operation on May 21, 1871 and was the first mountain railway in Europe. On June 4, 1875 the Arth-Rigi-Bahn was finished, allowing access from the other side of the mountain. They were electrified in 1937 and 1907 respectively, with the Arth-Rigi-Bahn becoming the first electrified standard gauge rack-railway in the world. Both lines go all the way to the summit, Rigi Kulm.
  • By gondola lift from Weggis to Rigi-Kaltbad.
  • By cable-car from the Kräbel station on the Arth-Rigi-Bahn line to Rigi-Scheidegg.


Mt. Rigi offers an area for recreation and sports measuring approximately 90 square kilometres (35 sq mi) offering a variety of well-maintained walking trails or mountain hikes where visitors can have a panoramic view of 150 km (93 mi) from various marked points. There are also numerous public grilling stations located near the hiking trails.

Rigi is also a destination for people practising winter sports and other winter recreation activities.

Mt. Rigi in culture[edit]

The Blue Rigi, Sunrise by J. M. W. Turner (watercolour on paper, 1842)

Mt. Rigi has been featured in many works of art, including both paintings and literary publications. Perhaps the most famous paintings of the Rigi were a series by JMW Turner, including The Blue Rigi, Sunrise, several of which are in the collection of the Tate Britain art gallery in London.[7]

Mark Twain also visited Rigi during his tour of Central Europe in the late 1870s, and wrote about his travels in chapter 28 of his "A Tramp Abroad."

There is a Catskills resort called the Rigi Kulm in Abraham Cahan's novel The Rise of David Levinsky (1917).

The Rigi, a downhill road in Wellington, New Zealand, is named for the mountain and for many years was used as a main thoroughfare for coach riders.[8]

On 9 July 1868, during a three-week tour through Switzerland, Gerard Manley Hopkins ascended Rigi-Kulm, the highest peak of the Rigi massif: "From Lucerne by steamer to Küssnacht, thence walk across to Immensee, thence by steamer over lake of Zug to Arth, whence up the Rigi."[9]


Technically, the Rigi is not a part of the Alps, and belongs instead to the Swiss plateau. It is mostly composed of molasse and other conglomerate, as opposed to the Bündner schist and flysch of the Alps.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Swisstopo maps
  2. ^ Retrieved from Google Earth. The nearest point of higher elevation is north of the Buochserhorn.
  3. ^ Schweizerisches Idiotikon, vol. VI, col. 753, article Rigi, 3a ("horizontal laufende Schichtung, Streifen, Band im Gebirge") and 3b ("spec. der bekannte Berg zw. ZG- und Vw-See").
  4. ^ Luzerner Namenbuch 2. Rigi. Die Orts- und Flurnamen der Luzerner Rigigemeinden. Ed. by Erika Waser. Gamma, Altdorf 2009, ISBN 978-3-906200-26-2, p. 377–379: "die von weitem sichtbaren, horizontal laufenden Fels- und Grasbänder, die den Gipfel in einem weiten Bogen von Westen nach Osten umgeben".
  5. ^ "Und ist das der berg Rigena, die die alten ein küngin der bergen geheyssen habent. Dann in dem selbigen berg sint vor langen, alten ziten heiligen verborgen gelegen, die noch zuͦ disen ziten (als man redt) mit himelscher sinphonie und lobgesang oft gehöret werden got lobent, und ir liplichen fuͦsstritten oft gloubhaftigen lüten erschinen sind." "Superioris Germanie Confoederatis descriptio" / "... der Obertütscheit Eidgnosschaft ... kurze beschribung" ed. Albert Büchi, QSG 13 (1893), 217–267.
  6. ^ "Die Wurzelwort-Forscher und Urkunden-Leute haben schon gelehrte Untersuchungen angestellt, ob der Name 'Rigi' von rigidus mons (der rauhe Berg) oder von regina montium (die Königin der Berge) abstamme und er somit ein Masculinum oder Femininum sei; jede Vermuthung hat gleich Viel für sich." (Berlepsch, Hermann, Alexander): Der Rigi, der Vierwaldstätter-See und die Urkantone. Ein Führer für Fremde. Leipzig 1858.
  7. ^ "The Blue Rigi, Sunrise, Joseph Mallord William Turner". Tate, London. Retrieved 2013-01-06.
  8. ^ Joseph Romanos (2013-03-22). "When The Rigi was the main coach road". The Dominion Post.
  9. ^ The Journals and Paper of Gerard Manley Hopkins. London: Oxford University Press. 1959. p. 170.

External links[edit]