unique. varied.

Enough pen and printer's ink for a tatzelwurm.

HISTORY – The Loch Ness wonder in Haslital.
Please smile. «Click». And that's when it happened. In print. We've got the Meiringen «tatzelwurm» – in other words: immortalised in a photo. The tatzelwurm found an idyllic place for its portrait. A place where the «young river Aare» rushes through grottos, hollows and down steep rockfaces. The Aare Gorge.

Terrible mythical creatures in animal form

It's no joke: when a tatzelwurm crawls through the sand, the sand directly turns into glass. Crazy, the amount of heat this worm must radiate. Quite a big glow worm. It's also related to the dragon and lindworm. Let's call it a «half dragon», with a snake-like belly and front legs full of claws. Scary.
A tatzelwurm is made like a Basilisk. Fans of Harry Potter know this creature all too well. Lord Voldemort is back. Come on, what do we mean? A chicken lays a black egg in a lake. This egg then is quite literally incubated by sunbathing. Et voila: a tatzelwurm.

Herkules und Hydra

Dragons, snakes and worms appear in manifold stories. In Greek mythology too: here, Hercules is slaying the nice Hydra. Captain America couldn't have done it better himself.

Heilige Georg im Kampf mit dem Drachen

Dragons are ever-present in the middle-ages. St. George is finishing off the baddie in this picture.

Thor und die Midgardschlange

In nordic Mythology, Thor fights the Midgard serpent heroically. The avengers take him on after that.

Seeungeheuer Ketos

Of course Perseus is a must here. He heroically defends Andromeda from the sea monster Ketos. That's so romantic.

Sigurd und Fafnir

The battle between Sigurd and Fafnir. An epic duel.

Loch Ness

This terrifying «watersaur» is well-known. It lives in Scotland. More precisely: in a lake called «Loch Ness».


There he is – just sitting there, on a mountain of gold treasure, probably waiting for Bilbo. Our smaug.

Game of Thrones

Even George R. R. Martin, and later HBO, make the dragon (almost) real in «Game of Thrones».

The dragon in the Aare Gorge

When a «half dragon» doesn't want to breath fire or fly over the mountains and scare people, he lives hidden under the water. The Aare Gorge is the perfect place for this of course.

Charon auf dem Acheron

Until the beginning of the 19th century, the waters of the Aare Gorge could only be crossed by boat. Hard-going. It's not uncommon that the Aare Gorge is associated with Acheron, Dante's underground river of death which Charon tirelessly rows across. The ideal place to reinforce the legend of a water beast.

Aareschlucht_grosse Enge

Really narrow. The Aare Gorge has the width of just a metre in some parts.


It lies between Meiringen and Innertkirchen. No one has dared to enter this gorge for centuries. Fear of the unknown is just too big. Who knows what monsters can be found there...


With the increase of tourism in the Alps in the 20th century, the community decided to build walkways above the water. A monster hype like this was certainly not an inconvenience for the marketing people.

metres long and 200 metres deep is the size of the Aare Gorge.

«The secret mythical creature of the Alps, photographed for the first time?»

What a sensation. In 1935, a Russian photographer called Balkin succeeded in photographing the monster. Unbelievable. The photo was published in the «Berlin Illustrirte Zeitung» newspaper. The whole of Europe was in uproar.
There it is. The Meiringen tatzelwurm. Its home: the Aare Gorge.


(in the: «Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung», No. 17, April 1935)


The visitors can find a green tatzelwurm without any problems today. It's made of wood, nevertheless, it greets all visitors in a very friendly manner at the entrance of the Aare Gorge. A beautiful memory of the legend.

The editors of the «Berlin Illustrirte Zeitung» send the employees twice to Haslital.

The reward is 1,000 Reichsmarks. Not bad. Now we just have to find this damn worm. Whoever manages this and brings the tatzelwurm to a scientific institute to be examined gets the jackpot. Come on, off we go.

Josef Viktor Widmann,
author, on the Aare Gorge

«Towards the exit, a type of niche or cave is hewn out of the rock. Made to measure so to speak, to shelter a being that symbolises this place.»
minutes is the time it takes to walk through the Aare Gorge.

The grand hunt for the tatzelwurm

«The huge effect of the propaganda on the Bernese Oberland has been confirmed», wrote «The Bund» in 1935, raising awareness of the monster hype.

Karrikatur_Berliner Zeitung

They're still waiting there for the tatzelwurm now. To no avail. It's not coming.

The legendary tatzelwurm's guest appearance in Haslital caused a whole «Grimselsee» full of pen and printer's ink.

It just won't leave the people of Berlin in peace. A year previously, a prehistoric monster had been sighted in the area of the Grimselsee. No one believed the rumours though. The cleverness of the tourism agency was said to have been behind this. No idea. The whole thing was quickly forgotten.

The Haslital, with its much-appreciated natural beauty, can do without such questionable advertising.

Even the NZZ covers this topic: «The fact that something (a monster) should be living near the Aare Gorge of all places, which is already a popular sight, after doing its duty last year for the tourists of the Grimsel is somewhat strange. The Berliner Illustrirte doesn't seem to have noticed this though», this was the NZZ's ironic stab at the Berlin colleagues in 1935.
Even the Aare Gorge and the tourist office in Meiringen and the surrounding area distance themselves from all publications on the appearance of a tatzelwurm. Nevertheless: they are sure to be secretly having a good laugh. The project is a complete success.


Hmm, I wonder whether the photo was faked? The prize money was never awarded. That animal just does not want to be found. The fact is that the film wasn't developed by the photographers themselves, it was done at an official office in Berlin.

Berliner Ilustrirte_Nebelspalter

(from: Nebelspalter, No. 25, 1935)

S.J. Blaupot ten Cates,
has seen a tatzelwurm himself

«In my opinion, the ‹ Balkin› picture of 1935 is a newspaper hoax, which the Berlin photographer wanted to pull over the eyes of the Meiringen people. Something like this can easily be done if you base it on old tatzelwurm drawings. At least I now know what a tatzelwurm really is. People prefer to believe in a mythical creature than in their sober daily life.»

We Swiss are lagging behind with our own zoology. The ungrateful worm just won't pose for a local photographer. I wonder whether it exists?

Of course. The tatzelwurm has stood the test of time – in a seductive manner. There's valid evidence in the shop windows of Meiringen. Just waiting to be eaten, covered in chocolate with a marzipan tongue.


Who can resist these sweet little monsters?


The tatzelwurm can be everywhere.

They are particularly attractive when the last dragon in the Bernese Oberland finally passes on: the Aare Gorge and Grimsel world. Open your eyes on the hike. There's loads to see.

Additional information

Aare Gorge

More information

Photos: Jungfrau Region, Aare Gorge
Story: André Wellig
Autumn 2017


Haslital Tourismus

Tourist Center Meiringen
Bahnhofplatz 12
CH-3860 Meiringen

Tel. +41 33 972 50 50
Fax +41 33 972 51 50