Welcome to the canton of Uri
We were mesmerized by the steep Alps and deep valleys of canton Uri. Our travels took us through winding mountain passes with magnificent waterfalls behind hairpin turns. The scenery was breathtaking!
The canton of Uri is located on the north side of the Swiss Alps and is home to the Reuss river valley and its tributaries. The terrain is extremely hilly and therefore not suitable for cultivation; however, many mountain slopes can be used as pastures for dairy cows. The cows who spend their summers high in the Alps produce beautiful milk for making alpine cheese and other dairy specialties.
We were excited to visit canton Uri and taste the delicious alpine cheeses made here!
Our Discoveries in Uri
Overview of the Canton
Land Area: 1 076,56 km2
Population: 36 299 (December 2017)
Admission to the Swiss Confederation: 1291 (founding member)
Language: Swiss German
Traditional Cheesemaking in Uri
The craft of cheesemaking in the alpine dairies of canton Uri was mentioned as early as 1479. It was believed that a type of low-fat soft cheese was made here first. However, these soft cheeses are perishable and there was a need for cheeses that could be stored longer without spoiling. By the middle of the 17th century, hard and semi-hard cheeses, which could be matured in caves, replaced the production of delicate soft cheeses.
These alpine cheeses are made during the summer months with fresh, raw milk from cows that feed on the grass and herbs high in the Alps at an altitude up to 2000 meters. Once the cheese has been made, the complex flavors of the alpine cheese continue to develop during a maturing period which can last from 2 to 12 months. Many of the traditional recipes are still used today in the dairies of Uri.
Have you heard of “alpabzug” (in German) or “désalpe” (in French)? During early Autumn, cows that grazed in the alpine pastures all summer long are brought down to the valley to spend the winter months there. The alpine breeders decorate their cows with colorful floral headdresses. The farmers wear their traditional clothes and carry large cowbells that ring across the path as they descend from the mountains. The parade is welcomed by the villagers with a town festival and artisanal markets selling local crafts and cheeses. It is a time-honored tradition not only in Uri but in other cantons across Switzerland. If you have not experienced an Alpabzug before, we encourage you to go this year! It is a wonderful, colorful celebration enjoyed by all ages!