German Swiss - Settlements

German Switzerland is a modern economic landscape of cities, towns, and villages. Urbanism is a feature of the plateau, while the mountains remain the domain of villages. Towns are found throughout the German Swiss area, being concentrated along the larger valley floors and plateau. The pre-World War II agricultural villages of the mountain areas are generally a thing of the past. Many villages of this type have shifted to tourism as their principal economic endeavor. Villages have post offices, Gasthofs (guest houses), churches, and houses with barns. Chalets and field buildings are found outside the alpine villages. Villages and towns are located on avalanche-free slopes. Tree lines and barriers are maintained to prevent avalanches. In the major valleys, villages and towns are along principal automobile routes or rail lines. Less and less construction of houses is of wood. Modern homes are brick or block, even in the most remote areas. The older homes in the mountain and foreland areas are wooden with shingled or tiled roofs. These houses have carved gables, other ornamentations and inscriptions. Regional styles Differentiated the carved Bernese farmhouse from the rock-roofed, inscribed Valais home. With the advent of stone or masonry construction, these embellishments have all but disappeared on modern homes. The exceptions are chalets built by urban dwellers as vacation homes, which imitate the older rustic forms. Towns and cities are characterized by a center with older buildings. The newer homes, apartments, malls, and industrial buildings lie on the periphery. The train station or Bahnhof is still a central focus in the larger towns and cities.

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