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Heritage sites


Map: Wanderkarte Zugerland 1:25000

Horgenberg is a lovely region for walks.
Hirzel is a pretty village, but has something special: it is the birthplace of Johanna Spyri, the writer of the Heidi story. Here Johanna Spyri has spent her time as a girl.

Hirzel is easily reached:
private car: the pass road runs from Sihlbrugg to Horgen and Waedenswil.
train (SBB) Zug-Horgen/Oberdorf;
then short walk (5 Min) to Bus Stop "Bergli", Bus to Hirzel (or Wüeribach, Bruppacher, Zimmerberg, Höhi).
train (SBB) Zug-Horgen/Oberdorf-Thalwil (change train) Thalwil-Horgen/See or Wädenswil;
then Bus to Hirzel.


Sihlbrugg Station-Zimmerberg-Hirzel km  h
Zug - Sihlbrugg Station (SBB)    
Sihlbrugg-Wüeribach-Bruppacher-Zimmerberg-Hoehi-Hirzel 5 1.5
Hirzel-Chalbisau-Tobelmueli-Ruebgarten-Sihlbrugg Dorf 3 1
Sihlbrugg Dorf - Zug (Bus)    
Our route begins at the Railway station Sihlbrugg.
The bridge over the river Sihl is about 200 m downriver, along the main road.
The marked hiking trail undercuts the rail track of the SZU-Line, crosses the bridge over river Sihl and undercuts the SBB-railway line.
A good although steep gravel road in leads up through the forest to the plains on Horgenberg.
After about 20 Minutes we reach the crossing at Unterhus: to the left you reach Wueribach. We choose the road to the right and, now on Bitumen roads are ascending to Bruppacher.
Here is a turnoff for the "Bergweiher" (little mountain lake), a popular place especially during summer.
View over upper lake Zurich and alps View into the alps and over lake Zurich
Drumlins (moraine hills) Moraine hills, 
leftovers of last ice age.

We choose the road to Zimmerberg, Hoehi.
Every now and then we are being rewarded by marvelous lookouts. One time we see the lower end of the Zurich lake with Zurich. At another place we would see the upper end of the lake or even the whole length. Additionally as a supplement gorgeous views into the alps with Saentis, Glaernisch, Rigi, the Bern alps, Pilatus, the view into the Zugerland.
On the last part to Hirzel we meet the "Doktorhaus", where Johanna Spyri passed her youth.
Remarkable from here is the view south with the many moraine hills that were left behind by the glaciers.
The route down to Sihlbrugg Dorf begins about 100 m after the church on the right. The field track starts at the end of local road with parking lots and newly built homes.
First the track is smoothly ascending, but then a rather steep descent to Chalbisau follows.
At Tobelmueli walking to Ruebgarten and down to Sihlbrugg we are following the old "Saumweg" (old traffic route) Horgen-Sihlbrugg-Baar-Zug. Quite remarkable when you imagine, that this steep have been used 400 or 500 years ago by horse driven wagons.

The old "Saumweg" Zug - Horgen as part of the trade route from Italy to Germany in the middle ages has only lately been marked (brown signs). A remarkable and interesting walking route.

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Johanna Spyri and Heidi

Church on Hirzel Church on Hirzel

Smooth hills, view into the alps, lively household, a mother with a flair for poetry... For the lively Johanna her youth in general probably was a pleasant one. She obviously loved the urban environment. Unquestionably  she was formed by what her mother told her of her own childhood. Johannas grand parents had lived through bitter times with local wars, envy, resentments, prejudices.
Johanna has probably seen a lot of pain in the eyes of her fathers patients. After her marriage she lived with her husband in Zurich where she wrote her books. They had a son. After she had lost son and husband she continued her writing and traveled frequently into the mountains.
old schoolhaus The old schoolhouse, now with a museum.
Johanna Spyris birthplace "Doktorhaus" (Meta Heusser Haus)
Johanna Spyri's birthplace. (left part)

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Johanna Spyri, borne Heusser:
her grandfather,
was pastor on Hirzel. The tombstone is on the side of the church.
her father,
Johann Heusser
was doctor on Hirzel. He built the relatively large house on the hill (the "Doktorhaus"). The house not only served for his family and the many aunts. It was also practice, pharmacy, hospital, rehabilitation place. In a small appendix surgeries were done. Mentally ill patients were treated and hospitalized as well.
her mother,
Anna Margaretha Schweizer
was one of the pastor's daughters. She was later  the "doctor's wife" and as such did all those jobs that were expected of her. She was also a poet.
She was called Meta.
her husband,
Johann Spyri
was lawyer in Zurich and later a civil officer (recorder) in Zurich city.
Heusser, after marriage Spyri
was borne on June 12th, 1827 on Hirzel in the "Doktorhaus". The house (Meta Heusser Haus) is still there on "Vorder Hoehi" and it can be seen from the church.
Primary school in the public school on Hirzel for six years (1833-1839). Her schoolhouse is still there. It's near the church and today it accommodates a little museum.
primary school
Johanna visited the repetition class. Later, during her stay in Zurich for about 3 years, she had lectures in French and music. In Zurich she met Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, one of the great Swiss writers. Like many other girls, Johanna went for a year to the French talking part of Switzerland.
back on Hirzel At age 18 Johanna returned to Hirzel. Here she helped teaching  her sisters. Sometimes she visited friends in the Grisons (Graubuenden) in Chur and Jenins. She loved literature.
with Johann Spyri
At 25 she got engaged to Johann Spyri. After the marriage in 1852 she moved with her husband to Zurich. In 1884 her son died and in the same year her husband passed away too.
She died in Zurich on July 7th 1901.
Johanna Spyri


Jürg Winkler: Biographisches zu Johanna Spyri,
"Ich möcht dir meine Heimat einmal zeigen"
Verlag Jürg Winkler, CH 8811 Hirzel, 1982.
Jean Villain
"Johanna Spyri und ihre Zeit"
Nagel  & Kimche
Roswitha Fröhlich, Jürg Winkler
"Johanna Spyri, Momente einer Biographie, ein Dialog"
Neue Arche Bücherei
Georg Thürer
"Johanna Spyri und ihr Heidi"
Verlag Haupt Bern
Museum in the old schoolhouse (built 1660):
open: sundays 2 PM to 4 PM,
or by special appointment (phone: [01] 729 9157).

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