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Altdorf is the capital of the Swiss canton of Uri. The municipality covers an area of 1023 hectares. It is built at a height of 462m above sea-level, a little above the right bank of the Reuss, not far above the point where this river is joined on the right by the Schächen torrent.

Of the total population of 8757 (2002), 4524 are male, and 4233 are female. The population density of the community is 856 inhabitants per km². In 1900 the population was 3117, all Romanists and German-speaking.

Altdorf is 55 km from Lucerne by the St Gotthard railway and 28 km from Göschenen. Its port on the Lake of Lucerne, Flüelen, is 2 miles distant. There is a stately parish church, while above the little town is the oldest Capuchin convent in Switzerland (1581).

Altdorf is best known as the place where, according to the legend, William Tell shot the apple from his son's head. This act by tradition happened on the market-place, where in 1895, at the foot of an old tower (with rude frescoes commemorating the feat), there was set up a fine bronze statue (by Richard Kissling of Zurich) of Tell and his son. In 1899 a theatre was opened close to the town for the sole purpose of performing Schiller's play of Wilhelm Tell.

The same year a new carriage-road was opened from Altdorf through the Schächental and over the Klausen Pass (1948 m) to the village of Linthal (46 km) and so to Glarus. 2 kilometres from Altdorf by the Klausen road is the village of Bürglen, where by tradition Tell was born; while he is also said to have lost his life, while saving that of a child, in the Schächen torrent that flows past the village. On the left bank of the Reuss, immediately opposite Altdorf, is Attinghausen, where the ruined castle (which belonged to one of the real founders of the Swiss Confederation) now houses the cantonal museum of antiquities.

External link

Altdorf Official site

From a 1911 encyclopedia

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