Juliertheatre – Surses, Switzerland - Atlas Obscura


Surses, Switzerland

A tower-like theater in the Swiss Alps built to withstand the high winds and avalanches of the mountain pass. 


From Roman temples to medieval chapels, Julier pass in the Graubünden region of the Swiss Alps has seen quite a history of notable buildings. The latest to call this mountain pass home is the Juliertheatre, a unique multi-windowed wooden tower built to withstand avalanches and winds of up to 150 miles per hour. 

Although the tower is strong—it’s made of 1,220 pieces, held together with 24,400 screws, and weighs over 400 tons—it only took two and a half months to build. Perched at over 7,500 feet above sea level, the theater is meant to celebrate its stunning natural landscape.

The space was constructed so that theater-goers inside could still see and appreciate the surrounding views of the Alps. The project was spearheaded by the organizers of the Origen Festival of Culture, who sought to create “a direct dialogue between the performances and the landscape.”

The theater’s first performance, held in July of 2017, featured opera and dance. For the next three years, the theater plans to host works that reflect the diversity of the theater, with special consideration to pieces that make use of not just the physical building, but the nature surrounding it. 

The one thing the Juliertheatre wasn’t built to survive? Time. The performance space is only a temporary landmark in the Julier pass, and will be taken down in 2020. When it closes, the building will be removed and the area returned to its natural state. 

The organizers say the unique theater’s short timeline is a reflection of “the fleeting art form of the theater and will live on in the memories of its visitors.” Until then, it will be open year-round, with performances beginning when the sun sets, so each season brings a different schedule.

Know Before You Go

Check the Origen Festival website for information about ticket purchases, transportation, performance schedule.

If you use the word "Juliertheatre" in your search, you'll likely be directed to another Juliertheatre, in Riom, which is an old charming fort now used as a theatre. The tower described in this article is located in Silvaplana, and can be found by using the term "Torre Origen" in your search.  

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October 27, 2017

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