1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Altdorf

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ALTDORF, the capital of the Swiss canton of Uri. It is built at a height of 1516 ft. 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. In 1900 the population was 3117, all Romanists and German-speaking. Altdorf is 34 m. from Lucerne by the St Gotthard railway and 22 m. from Goeschenen. Its port on the Lake of Lucerne, Flüelen, is 2 m. 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 Zürich) 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 Schächen valley and over the Klausen Pass (6404 ft.) to the village of Linththal (30 m.) and so to Glarus. One and a half mile 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.  (W. A. B. C.)