Last week 12 villages across Switzerland were shortlisted in the country’s annual ‘most beautiful’ village competition.
Organised by a number of Swiss magazines and public broadcasters, the competition which sees the public voting online for their personal favourite, has been running since 2011.
Last year the village of Schwellbrunn in the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden took the top spot – the first time a village in German-speaking Switzerland had taken the gong.
In this year’s competition the public has until August 5th to select their winner from the 12 finalists – three from each of Switzerland’s four language regions.
To help voters decide, we zoom in on the candidates for the 2018 prize.
Perched above Lugano on the slopes of the Monte Brè (known as 'the sunniest mountain in Switzerland'), this art-inflected village is home to a museum dedicated to German painter Wilhelm Schmid while the whole area is an outdoor museum.
This village is set in a landscape of rolling hills with views down to Lake Constance and over to the Alps. In addition to being a paradise for walkers who don't fancy the high Alps, Fischingen is also home to Thurgau's only fully-functioning monastery.
This is canton Fribourg at its rustic best: a sleeper hit happily resting in the hollows between spectacular Bern and Valais.
Spectacular mountain setting in Switzerland's wildest canton? Tick. Rustic charm including traditional wooden houses? Tick. A cultural centre (Casa d'Angel) developed by a Swiss architect of international standing (Peter Zumthor)? Tick. Need we say more?
Situated in the Val d’Hérens, the village of Mase is Valais at its Alpine best. It's all about the food and drinks here.
This is another classic Bündner village with the added attraction of serious beer tasting at what is reputed to be Europe's highest brewery.
The castle is the undoubted highlight of this village by the water. Now a museum (with murals and a dungeon) it is the best-known sight. But Oberhofen also provides a great excuse to explore Lake Thun, often overlooked by people racing to Interlaken.
Poschiavo is a fairy tale village of towers and winding narrow streets. Just half an hour's drive from the Italian border, it has a distinctly southern air.
Santa Maria (Graubünden)
There is remote, and then there is Switzerland's Val Müstair which manages to be both on the way to Italy and on the way to nowhere at the same time. The valley is home to the Unesco-recognised Abbey of St John with its stunning murals that are around 1,200 years old. Meanwhile, if your tastes are a little different, Santa Maria has a bar where you can try over 280 varieties of whisky.
Another traditional Graubünden village on the list, Sent, still predominantly Romansh-speaking, is known for the murals on the facades of its houses.
This hamlet home to just 35 people has no electricity but plenty of back to basics charm in the form of stone cottages.
With skiing in winter and hiking in summer plus attractions including art museums and a jazz festival, the Valais village is a gem.
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