On this 90-minute audio tour with 14 stops throughout the Cherry Town, you will experience Zug as a place of blossoming cherry trees, aromatic kirsch and as home to the famous Kirschtorte. Learn about an age-old tradition full of life, unique customs and a sustainable resource that has become a popular symbol for an entire region. The tour is available in German or English. We hope you enjoy your walk through the Cherry Town!
The Cherry Tour was developed for the Stadt Zug as part of the CityBot Zug project. Research/texts: Ueli Kleeb. Narrators: Irina Schönen, Sarah Robins. Translations: Yanik Riedo. Sound recordings: Ueli Thalmann. DNS-Transport GmbH Zug / Stadt Zug © 2023. Financial support: Stadt Zug; Eidgenössisches Departement des Innern, Bundesamt für Kultur.
Zug is small but diverse. It has low taxes, global commodity trading and is at the pulse of the crypto-finance scene. It has beautiful sunsets and superb ice hockey. It has blossoming cherry trees, juicy cherries, aromatic Kirsch and is home to the famous «Zuger Kirschtorte». But which one of these has come to symbolise Zug like no other? Welcome to this tour through the town of Zug which explores how cherries, or «Chriesi» as they are known locally, have shaped the town's identity.
Bahnhof Zug, Perron Gleis 3 (Baarerstrasse 37)
If you look north-east from Platform 3 in Sector D, you can see a striking, seven-storey glass building. In its placed used to be the previous headquarters of the Etter distillery, Zug's most important kirsch distillery. Located in the middle of what was then the industrial district, it had good connections to the railway. Nowadays, Etter Kirsch is available at high-end establishments almost all over the world.
Welcome to the birthplace of the famous «Zuger Kirschtorte»! Here in this shop on Alpenstrasse, where there is now a hairdresser, the young pastry chef Heiri Höhn invented the Zuger Kirschtorte over 100 years ago. Höhn was based in Hirzel and had come to Zug from Appenzell to try his luck. Over the decades, his boozy invention became one of Switzerland's most popular desserts.
You are standing in front of the headquarters of the Protestant Church of the Canton of Zug. However, this used to be the headquarters of the Kirschwasser Gesellschaft in Zug, an organisation which ensured the international distribution of cherry brandy, or «Kirschwasser», as far away as Cuba and made many a kirsch distiller rich. While other cantons mainly distilled schnapps from pome fruits, the people of Zug successfully relied on their distilling cherries and the kirsch they made from them. All that remains of the Kirschwasser Gesellschaft building is a stone coat of arms with cherry branches, mounted on the wall facing Chamerstrasse.
Bundestrasse 5 (Bundesstrasse 1–9/Alpenstrasse 1/Chamerstrasse 2)
The Weiss cidery and distillery used to be located here, where the Zum Erlenbach development now stands. Between Bundesstrasse, Alpenstrasse and Chamerstrasse lie the roots of Switzerland's oldest still existing family-owned commercial distillery, which produces its beverages in Cham now. In addition to kirsch, apple must, a kind of non-alcoholic sweet cider, was also good business for Weiss. Soon the Weiss family was able to build a villa with gardens and a fountain next to their old farmhouse.
To this day, numerous celebrities are among the many people that love the «Zuger Kirschtorte». Some ordered it by post, others stopped by as tourists and some were even among the many regular customers who bought the famous kirsch pastry right here in this shop on Bundesplatz. The Zuger Kirschtorten Museum, which is integrated into the café, shows the colourful history of the Kirschtorte and its famous fans.
In this backyard, hidden in an inconspicuous side street of Poststrasse, lies the Konditorei Treichler's bakery. Around 80,000 Kirschtorten are made here every year. They are sold in the shop or sent by post to Switzerland and abroad. The former head confectioner himself made over 1 million Kirschtorten by hand in 40 years. Would you like to try a piece? Knock on the door, name the year when the Kirschtorte was invented, and receive a free taster!
In the past, if you had looked westwards from where you are standing now, your view of the lake would have been obscured by houses. However, during the Vorstadt Disaster on 5 July 1887, the houses on both sides of Vorstadtstrasse sank into Lake Zug. This included parts of the building that stood where Rigistrasse now joins the Vorstadt. It is here that the veterinarian, photographer and cherry distiller Joseph Schmidt once ran his business.
If you study the entrance of the mighty baroque building more closely, you can still make out painted lettering that translates to «Kirsch-Destillation, Wines, Aug. Wyss, formerly M. A. Wyss. Founded in 1851». The Wyss distillery was once located here in the «Münz», the town's mint. It exported Zuger Kirsch abroad and also supplied the future King of Romania.
Unter Altstadt 12/14
Here, on the outside wall of the Altstadthalle, ladders and wicker backpacks that are used for the «Chriesisturm» are stored. The Chriesisturm (Cherry Run) is a race that takes place in Zug's old town every year at the start of the cherry harvest. At the end of June, as soon as the «Chriesigloggä» (Cherry Bell) rings out, women, men and children race along a circular course equipped with ladders and wicker backpacks. The winner is rewarded with fame and glory and a basket full of tasty cherries. The traditional «Chriesimärt» (Cherry Market) also takes place on the same day.
Unter Altstadt 13
Around 1800, the town of Zug consisted mainly of the old town and the Vorstadt district. A little more than 1000 inhabitants lived here. In the lower part of the old town, the Bossard brothers set up a food and spice trading business. They were probably the first people in Zug to start distilling cherries commercially. Their business with kirsch and dried fruit was so successful that they were soon able to buy the manorial «Zurlaubenhof» in the south of the town.
Signalling the start of the cherry harvest: From where you are standing now, you should be able to see St. Michael's church, which lies on the slopes of the Zugerberg. The church's bell tower contains five bells, the largest of which is the «Chriesigloggä» (Cherry Bell) weighing almost 3.7 tonnes. Every year, it is rung to signal the start of the cherry season. For some time now, the church bells of Baar and Ägeri have joined in ringing out again, loudly announcing that the cherries are ripe. It is on this day that the cherry farmers begin harvesting their sweet fruit.
This barn that is attached to the town wall contains storage rooms and a distillery and is of particular significance for Zug's kirsch culture. Not only did various distillers work on Ägeristrasse and Knopfliweg in the past, but the politically influential Kirschwasser Gesellschaft in Zug und Oberägeri, the association that used to represent all the canton's kirsch distillers, also had a kirsch depository and distillery here.
You have reached the end of the tour. Thank you very much for your time and curiosity! If you fancy taking a piece of Zug's cherry culture home with you, the best places to visit are the Konditorei Treichler, which houses the largest selection of Kirsch, or the Kirschtorten manufacturers Treichler, Strickler-Meier and Speck, which are located in the Neustadt district. Or you can always visit Zug's countryside in early summer when the cherries are ripe.