The literary tour continues. After reading the Goethe excerpt, I had to visit the Trient Gorge.
The walkway provides a sense of scale, as it’s human-sized. The gorge itself is 200 m deep, cut open over time by a mountain stream. According to legend, on the night of a new moon, the pure of heart can see a fairy in that cave. Although the photo offers a glimpse of the space, sound also fills it, between the echoes of our voices and of the water rushing to exit.
After a walk through and picnic, we went to Martigny, where we hiked to the Château de la Bâtiaz, a fortress built between 1260-1268.
Inside, we saw medieval torture devices and climbed to the top of the keep. Here’s the view looking down after completing part of the climb.
And the view from the roof of the keep:
We hiked back down and across the city, getting a bit lost along the way, and finally ended up at:
Yes, I got to pet one, and yes, half of the museum is devoted to the breed. Pretty amazing. And next door to the museum is a Roman amphitheatre, built sometime between the second and fourth centuries.
As a bibliophile, my first thought was, “What a perfect venue for Shakespeare in the Park!” The acoustics are fantastic.
Next we visited the Fondation Pierre Gianadda, a museum that has a floor of Gallo-Roman artifacts, an expressionist show with work by Van Gogh, Picasso, and Kandinsky, and an automobile museum with cars from 1897 – 1939. Behind the museum lies an enclosed sculpture park and a separate Leonardo da Vinci exhibit with models built from his diagrams. The sculpture park also contains the foundation of an ancient Celtic temple from around 300 B.C.E. that was later incorporated into a Roman temenos complete with thermal baths.
The inner sanctum walls of a temple to Mercury remain in the heart of the museum.
A wall built in 50 A.D. runs through the grounds.
The park itself had sculptures by Rodin, Calder, and Miró, among others. As we headed back toward the train, we passed by a Mithraeum, a temple built between 150-200 C.E. that was dedicated to Mithras. It’s the only such temple in Switzerland.
The entire day, I kept thinking about perspective — how unsurprising the Romantic fixation on the sublime when faced with Mont Blanc and the Trient Gorge and how impossible to capture that sensation. Was it Wordsworth who focused on suggestion? Of small hints conveying glimpses of an incomprehensible whole?
I had thought the medieval fortress was ancient, and we tried to imagine navigating the narrow corridors and winding stairs by candlelight in armor while under siege, and then we saw the temenos and Celtic ruins from when Martigny was known as Octodure. Caesar sent troops to capture the city in 57 B.C.E. and was defeated by the Veragri. It joined the Roman Empire in 47 C.E. Centuries later, in 1800, Napoleon’s army passed through to Italy to attack the Austrian army from behind. Martigny rests at the junction between Switzerland, Italy, and France, with the Great Saint Bernard and Col de la Forclaz passes through the Alps into each country.
All of human history and the grandeur of nature. And, at the end, a sunset over Lac Léman, turning the mountains violet blue.
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Anindita is a writer, educator, book addict, geek, and occasional dog rescuer.
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