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Switzerland is characterized by three major linguistic areas, and its culture is influenced by its neighbouring countries. This allows Switzerland to offer a glimpse of France, Germany and Italy within its own borders, while at the same time developing a unique culture of its own. The rich and varied cultural offerings range from traditional events to the trendiest exhibitions and performances. Seasonal traditions such as Advent, Carnivals and Spring Festivals are still very much alive throughout the country. At the same time, Switzerland enjoys a thriving modern arts scene.
Well-known painters and sculptors of the 19th and the 20th centuries (Albert Anker, Ferdinand Hodler, Alberto Giacometti and others) were Swiss or Swiss-born. Jean Tinguely and his creative crazy machines also hail from Switzerland.
Switzerland boasts a long tradition of architecture: visitors will enjoy opulent Romanesque cathedrals (such as those in Geneva or Basel), as well as Gothic churches (in Zurich and Lausanne) or the Jesuit Church in Lucerne, which, dating from 1666, is the first example of the Baroque style in Switzerland.
Styles have evolved, but the tradition of architecture has remained: some of the most famous and influential architects of the 20th century, such as Le Corbusier, Mario Botta or Herzog & de Meuron are Swiss. In recent years, several innovative Swiss-designed contemporary structures have been recognized with international awards.
Switzerland hosts an amazing concentration of galleries and museums displaying fascinating collections of history and traditions, natural and human sciences, ancient and modern art. The website of the Swiss Museums Association and ICOM Switzerland offers a database of most Swiss museums and has different search tools available to find topic-specific museums.
Last but not least, music is simply part of the Swiss way of life. Not only are important music festivals and prestigious concerts organized throughout the country, but many Swiss people enjoy making music: the number of local bands and choirs is impressive.