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The Adventures of Switzerland’s Most Famous Stone

Never mind it’s a duplicate. Photo: Patrick Frauchiger/flickr

Fans of yodeling, dancing and schwingen got their money’s worth last Sunday at Switzerland’s biggest celebration of traditional culture, the Unspunnen festival. If the sight of men wrestling in lederhosen isn’t exciting enough for you, the festival showcases another pearl of entertainment: stone throwing. No less than 83kg of massive granite has to be shifted by each competitor, the further the better.

The first Unspunnen festival was held in 1805. Napoleon had just invaded Switzerland, and the event – and the ‘Unspunnen Stone’ with it – became a symbol of Swiss unity. But it was not until 1984 that the stone rose to international fame, when it was abducted by a group of Bélier activists – part of quiet Switzerland’s very own separatist movement.