In the land of place names


Journey filmed in Swiss towns

There are plenty of exciting journeys to choose from. Along the way, they illustrate in a light-hearted manner the historical roots of Swiss place names in all their richness.

Some visitors will recall the pyramid of flags at the previous national exhibition held in 1964 and others may even remember the flagbedecked Höhenweg at the 1939 Expo, popularly known as the Landi. Onoma builds on this tradition. Researchers have sought to explain the names of all Switzerland’s towns and villages. There are some astonishing revelations.

Did you know, for instance, that Yverdon-les-Bains, Kloten and Rhäzuns all derive partly from the same Celtic word for a castle (dunum)? Sit down, enter any postcode or place name in the system, and you are off on one of 143 mystery tours created by 39 film-makers in some 600 villages all over the country.

The complete inventory can be accessed on computer terminals – you can peruse the key particulars, read an explanation of the name, study a map showing related names and watch an interview. And if there is no interview for your home town or village, you can rectify matters by submitting its name, traditions and particularities to one of the Onoma journalists.

Words of the curator

"Certain vanished peoples have left a last trace in the name of a place. This category also includes the memory of certain minorities who settled in regions with a different language, in particular certain Alemannic groups in French-speaking Switzerland. Ethnic names seem to be particularly common in Alpine regions where small pre-Romanic populations had retreated." 
selected from the onomastic study by Professor Andres Kristol "The Journey of the Disappeared Peoples". 


Visitor capacity per day

Total visitors

Swiss Post Ltd, Berne 
Swiss municipalities 
Swiss cities 

Université de Neuchâtel (Prof. Andres Kristol), Neuchâtel 

Scientific study
Université de Neuchâtel (Prof. Andres Kristol), Neuchâtel 

Project management
Urs E. Gröflin

Artistic supervision Films
Christoph Schaub

Production Management Films
Amka Film Production SA (Tiziana Soudani), Savosa www.amka,ch 

Burkhalter Sumi Architekten GmbH (Marianne Burkhalter,Ivo Bertolo), Zurich 

Burkhalter Sumi Architekten GmbH (Trix Wetter), Zurich 

Project management construction
Archobau AG (Peter Diggelmann), Zurich 

Pine Point Systems AG (Rolf Zemp), Alpnach Dorf 
Forum Informatik AG (gelöscht) (Jens Lassau), Zurich

Coordination municipalities
TextCom AG (Silvio Weilenmann), Rüfenacht
Swiss Association of Municipalities  (Sigisbert Lutz), Berne 
Swiss Association of Cities  (Dr. Urs Geissmann), Berne 

Coordination Swiss Post
Thomas Küffer
Reiny Schnyder

Coaching Expo.02
Sergio Cavero (Head)
Deborah Rozenblum

Sandra Bigler, Barbla Etter, Célia Francillon, Roger Huber, Michel Kaenel, Marisa Mattey, Jacqueline Meisser, Thierry Muller, Michel Remy, Salomé Schardt, Reto Siffert, Pierre-Alain Sonderegger, Jürg Thomi, Caroline Wirz, Tamara Zehnder

Photos: Press kit Onoma; © Martin Lüchinger