The Swiss Pyramid

It captivated the imaginations of Swiss painters, boasts one of the steepest funiculars in Switzerland and promises a 360-degree panorama. Mt Niesen’s pyramidal shape meant it was never destined to be just another Swiss mountain.

Overlooking Lake Thun in the Bernese Oberland region, the peak stands detached from a mountain chain, cementing its mirage-like appearance. But your eyes don’t deceive you: it is indeed a pyramid. Just one formed by tectonic plates that you can hike to the top of or even forecast the weather with – according to a local saying, clouds at the summit make for a beautiful day.

Perhaps it was this separation from a mountain range that caught the interest of the artists Ferdinand Hodler, Cuno Amiet, and supposedly even Paul Klee. Though not nearly as imposing as neighbouring mountains like the Matterhorn, Mt Niesen watches over a stretch of water, marking it as a guardian of sorts. And it’s precisely this image the painters immortalized in their depictions of it.

It’s not only painters, though, that are drawn to this mountain. At 2,362 metres in elevation, what Mt Niesen lacks in height, it makes up for in accessibility coupled with picturesque views. Not only is it easy and quick to get to by public transport but the Niesenbahn funicular allows visitors to reach the summit in half an hour.

Completed in 1910, the 3.5km funicular route runs from April to mid-November and has a gradient of 68% in places. Visitors can also choose to book specific rides for children in which they listen to the children’s stories written by various authors including Judith Josi. For adults, meanwhile, there are crime thriller and climate and sustainability rides if you’re looking for a day out in Swiss nature with a twist.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to do for good old-fashioned hikers. There are a variety of hiking routes to the summit – though be prepared for the steep climb.

For an even bigger challenge, with a total of 11,674 steps, you’ll find the longest stairway in the world. It’s open once a year for the annual stair run event and you can register online.

At the summit, while there ain’t no mountain high enough to touch the heavens, you’ll enjoy views that certainly feel that way. So, take in the panorama of the Bernese Alps and grab a bite at the Berghaus Niesen Kulm. Or if you should feel so inclined, do as the Swiss painters did, and preserve your moment on Mt Niesen in art – but this time, from the top.