In the quaint medieval city of Gruyères, Switzerland, you may meander the cobblestone streets, visit a 13th Century Chateau and take in the stunning valley panoramas from the historic rampart walls. But a far more fascinating site here contrasts with the Swiss scenery and piques the modern curiosity. Along the way to the fromagerie is the H.R. Giger Museum.
Even if the name H. R. Giger doesn’t mean anything to you, chances are you are familiar with his best known creation. H. R. Giger is the mind behind the titular monsters from the Alien movie franchise, among many other works frightening works of art. Swiss-born, Giger fell in love with the village at an exhibition there in the 1990s, and now the town’s medieval walls house his museum dedicated to his art, it contains the world’s largest collection of his works.
The Museum’s interior was designed entirely by Giger himself. The Museum is intentionally dark, grim, and slightly disturbing: stepping inside feels like entering an alien’s lair. His oeuvre is available for view, including paintings, drawings, even furniture. The disparity between bucolic Switzerland and the obsessive, bizarre works of Giger will lend a Surreal tint to a day spent in Gruyères.
While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the Museum’s HR Giger Bar open 10:00-8:30 daily, opposite the museum. The ceiling is like the inside of a ribcage, with vertebrae twisting along its vaulted ceiling.
A beautiful panoramic photograph of the museum can be seen at the museum’s website.
Know Before You Go
From Zurich HB (main train station) it’s an easy two and a half-hour trip to Gruyères, first to Fribourg, then a second change of trains in Bulle. There you can catch the RegioExpress towards Montbovon for the last 20-minutes to Gruyeres. From Geneva, it's about the same distance as from Zurich, it’s a lovely run along Lake Geneva to Montreux. There, you can catch a classic Swiss hill-climbing train to Montbovon. There, a ride on the RegioExpress train to Gruyeres (direction Broc Fabrique) is a total of two and a half hours of breathtaking scenery, particularly the hill climb out of Montreux.