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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 with a triangulation point on Alp Älggi to the south of Sachseln. The calculation was based on the national borders, which had then just been digitised for the first time and were one of the first data sets which hinted at the possibility that, in the digital age to come, the organisation would be using geodata as well as maps.

At the time of the 175th anniversary, the idea emerged that we should calculate the volumetric centre of Switzerland as a symbol of the significant progress in digitisation of the landscape that has occurred since. The acquisition of the required data, i.e. the DHM25 elevation model, was still in its early stages in 1988. So at the time of the 150th anniversary, swisstopo was unable to calculate the position of its August geocache.

The horizontal and vertical position of the volumetric centre were calculated by Urs Marti of swisstopo’s Geodesy Division. Volume elements with a surface area of 25 x 25 metres were created and applied to the whole area of Switzerland. Sea level was used as the reference height. This produced the following values:

Volumetric centre of Switzerland: 674533 / 167450 / 902 

Map extract with depiction of the volumetric centre
Location of the volumetric centre of Switzerland on the 1:100,000 national map.

Map extract with depiction of the volumetric centre
… and on the 1:25,000 national map.

As the images show, this point lies on the glaciated northern flanks of the Eggstock on Urner Boden, but very close to the cantonal borders with Valais and Bern.

Thus it is clear that the volumetric centre or its penetration point on the surface of the terrain would be accessible to mountaineers at best. However, the penetration point of the volumetric centre perpendicular is visible from the Chelenalp hut in the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) Aarau section in fine weather.

Two of the four members of what later became the Aarau section were there when the Swiss Alpine Club – which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year – was founded on 19 April 1863 in Olten. Early in 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel Hermann Siegfried joined the Jura section as it was then called.

At the time, Siegfried was already charged with setting up the successor organisation to Dufour’s Bureau topographique fédéral, the Swiss headquarters of which he was the director. Thus for 150 years the history of the SAC has been closely associated with that of today’s Federal Office of Topography, an association which is still fostered today.

Historic photo, with the volumetric centre drawn in
The volumetric centre of Switzerland is on the red line, 2,428 metres below the penetration point at 3,300 metres. Montage based on a photo by J. Moser, SAC Section, Pilatus, from the Club Cabins album of the Swiss Alpine Club, 1911.


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


Federal Office of Topography swisstopo

Seftigenstrasse 264
P.O. Box
3084 Wabern


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