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Historical anecdotes

This page contains various stories relating to the history of swisstopo. From the establishment of the “Bureau topographique fédéral” in Carouge in 1838 to the creation of the Mont Terri rock laboratory in 2006. Discover some amazing historical and scientific facts.

Higher Aarburg elevation and the 1754 survey plan

In Aarburg, there are two phenomena or sites that are important in the context of the Swiss national survey. The key element today is the control point group AG 471–476 of the national levelling...

Sion - the 1831 baseline

The magnificent cultural and historic achievement of the Dufour map is due among other things to the fact that this work was created against the background of an as yet ununited nation. Dufour...

Carouge - Bureau topographique fédéral 1838

Why is it that 1838 is regarded as the founding year for one of the oldest elements in what was to become the Swiss government – a full decade before 1848?

Chasseral - how Switzerland found its own level

The iron surveying pyramid on the Chasseral underlines the importance of the prominent Jura peak for the national survey even today. Although situated at the highest point of the Bernese Jura, the...

Eggstock - The volumetric centre of Switzerland

This centre point is a symbol of the technological development which swisstopo has been involved in since its 150th anniversary in 1988. At that time the “geographic centre of Switzerland” was marked...

St-Ursanne - Swiss Geological Survey / Mont Terri Project

The Swiss Geological Survey is the latest department to join the Federal Office of Topography (swisstopo).

Aarau - “surveying capital” of Switzerland at the turn of the 19th century

Aarau: a city which, given the prominent role it played in the development of Switzerland’s modern national topographical surveys at the turn of the 19th century, could also be called the “capital of...

Säntis - 1832 Säntis disaster

From 4 to 9 June 1832, Ludwig Wurstemberger summoned five experts to Bern to take part in the first meeting of the Commission for Topographic Surveys. Among the issues discussed at the meeting, it...


The Federal Office of Topography, founded in Geneva in 1838 by Guillaume-Henri Dufour as the Federal Topographical Bureau, is one of the oldest parts of the Swiss Federal Administration. The Dufour...

Giubiasco - 1881 baseline

The "fantastic 1860s" were an important time for the surveying of Switzerland: in 1861 the Swiss Geodetic Commission (SGC) was established.

Dübendorf - Flight Service

The “Golden 1920s” was a great time for topographers too, as the engineers began, literally, to take off.

Filisur - sheet 1216

Whenever we go hiking we almost always find that our route lies on more than one map. It’s like dropping buttered toast – it almost always lands on the buttered side!. This is why we conceived the...

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern
+41 58 469 01 11


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Infodesk history

Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern

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