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Sarnen coat of arms
State : SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
Canton : Canton of ObwaldenCanton of Obwalden Obwalden (OW)
District : No district division
BFS no. : 1407i1 f3 f4
Postal code : 6056 Kägiswil
6060 Sarnen
6062 Wilen
6063 Stalden
Coordinates : 661499  /  194193 coordinates: 46 ° 53 '46 "  N , 8 ° 14' 44"  O ; CH1903:  661499  /  194193
Height : 471  m above sea level M.
Height range : 459-2039 m above sea level M.
Area : 73.11  km²
Residents: i10,368 (December 31, 2018)
Population density : 142 inhabitants per km²
Proportion of foreigners :
(residents without
citizenship )
14.3% (December 31, 2,015)
Mayor : Jürg Berlinger ( CVP )
View from the Sarnersee to the south-western parts of the village: Goldmattquartier, parish church St. Peter and Paul and above Ramersberg

View from the Sarnersee to the south-western parts of the village: Goldmattquartier,
parish church St. Peter and Paul and above Ramersberg

Location of the municipality
Bannalpsee Blausee OW Brienzersee Eisee OW Engstlensee Eugenisee Hinterburgseeli Lutersee Lungerersee Melchsee Sarnersee Seefeld OW Sewenseeli Steinsee BE Tannensee Trübsee Vierwaldstättersee Wichelsee Kanton Bern Kanton Luzern Kanton Nidwalden Kanton Schwyz Kanton Uri Alpnach Engelberg Giswil Kerns Lungern Sachseln SarnenMap of Sarnen
About this picture

Sarnen is a municipality and the capital of the canton of Obwalden in Switzerland .


The community is located at the northern end of Lake Sarnen at 470  m above sea level. M. in the Sarneraatal . The lowest point is the Wichelsee at 459  m above sea level. M. , the highest point is the Fürstein at 2040  m above sea level. M. The municipality Sarnen include the districts or hamlets Bitzighofen , Kägiswil , Kirchhofen , Ramerberg , Stalden and Wilen / Oberwilen. The hillside area on the other side (west) of the Schwandbach is called Schwendi . The Sarnersee and the Wichelsee are partly in the area of ​​the municipality of Sarnen.


Sarnen, historical aerial photo from 1919, taken from a height of 150 meters by Walter Mittelholzer

The name Sarnen is of pre-Celtic origin and as "flowing water" contains the Indo-European root ser or sar with the meaning to flow (compare: Saar ). According to this, Sarnen was likely to be in the early Bronze Age , i.e. in the first centuries after 2000 BC. BC, have been settled. The first written mention of Sarnen comes from a deed of donation from the nobleman Recho to the St. Leodegar monastery in Lucerne . There the place name appears as Sarnono , the donation took place at an unspecified time between 825 and 909. In a document from Count Ulrich the Rich (Ulrich I) of Lenzburg from 1036, the place appears with the name Sarnuna , in the old Sarn calendar as Sarnon .

During the Helvetic Republic between 1798 and 1803, Sarnen was the capital of the Sarnen district in the canton of Waldstätte . In the mediation of 1803 the sovereignty of the half-canton Obwalden was restored and Sarnen has been the capital of Obwalden again since then.

Country transmitter Sarnen

Up until the mid-1990s, the Sarnen state transmitter was located near Sarnen , a transmission system for broadcasting in the medium wave range with a steep-beam antenna . It was used to broadcast the Beromünster radio program at night . This system is now out of service as a medium wave transmitter, but still exists and may be functional.


On August 14, 1468, between one and two in the afternoon, a devastating fire destroyed at least twenty-two houses, including the town hall built in 1418 . Brother Klaus is said to have extinguished the fire with a sign of the cross from Flüeli . On the night of April 5 to 6, 1919, there was a fire disaster in the village square of Sarnen. The guild and inn “Zum Schlüssel” and the residential building “Joller” burned down.

On August 9, 1831, there was a great flood by the Great Melchaa . Since this was not the only one, the Melchaa was relocated between 1878 and 1880 and since then no longer flows through Sarnen, but into Lake Sarnen. As a result, between 1881 and 1882 the outflow from the Sarnersee into the Sarner Aa had to be lowered. During the Alpine floods in 2005 , Lake Sarnen flooded its banks again and caused great damage in Sarnen.

After earthquakes in the 14th century, several earthquakes with an intensity of at least Io = VII occurred in the area of ​​Sarnen in the years 1774–1777. In the earthquakes of February 17 and March 14, 1964, several buildings in Sarnen were damaged so that they had to be supported. The Sarner parish church of St. Peter and Paul was also affected by the magnitude 5.7 earthquake.


Population development

In the 18th century there was no growth in the population because of the high child mortality rate. Between 1799 and 1880, the number of residents grew by around 60 percent. The population fell between 1880 and 1888. The reason for this was the lack of jobs and the resulting migration to other regions of Switzerland and overseas. The population has been growing steadily since 1888 and has exceeded the 10,000 mark in recent years. Numerous jobs were created in larger companies and there was also immigration from abroad. Therefore, the population increased by 13.37% or more than 1200 people between 2000 and 2018.

Population development of Sarnen since 1743. Source: Cantonal censuses, Federal censuses (1850–2000), Federal Statistical Office (2010)


Almost the entire population speaks Obwalden German, a high Alemannic dialect in Swiss German. In the 2000 census, 91.0% stated German, 1.6% each Italian and Albanian, 1.2% Serbo-Croatian, 1.1% Portuguese and 0.5% Turkish as their main language.

Religions - denominations

The population used to be fully members of the Roman Catholic Church. The denominational relationships in 2000 still show this original structure: 7,180 people were Catholic (78.51%). In addition there were 7.75% Protestant and 1.22% other Christians (mostly Orthodox Christians), 4.06% Muslims and 4.33% non-denominational. 314 people (3.43%) did not provide any information on their creed. The secularization of the church and immigration from other communities and abroad has led to an increase in other denomination groups in Sachseln.

Origin - nationality

Of the 10,368 residents, 8,872 (85.57%) were Swiss citizens at the end of 2018. The majority of the immigrants come from Central Europe (Germany 331, Austria 41, Netherlands 32, Poland 16 and United Kingdom 13 people), Southern Europe (Portugal 284, Italy 170 and Spain 21 people), the former Yugoslavia (Kosova 128, Croatia 59, North Macedonia 58 , Serbia 36 and Bosnia-Herzegovina 14 people), Sweden (15 people), Turkey (43 people), Russia (22 people), Africa (Eritrea 53 people) and Asia (Sri Lanka 46, China 33, Afghanistan 16, Syria 13 and Thailand 12 people). At the 2000 census, 7,890 people (86.28%) were Swiss citizens; 235 of them had dual citizenship.

age structure

The municipality has a high proportion of middle-aged residents. While the proportion of people under the age of twenty makes up 18.75% of the local population, 27.93% are senior citizens (60 years and older). The largest age group are people between 45 and 59 years. For every 100 people of working age (20–64 years; 6246 people) there are 31 young people (1944 people) and 35 people (2178 people) of retirement age.

The following age structure emerged at the end of 2018:

Age 0–6 years 7-15 years 16-19 years 20-29 years 30–44 years 45–59 years 60–79 years 80 years and more
number 688 846 410 1200 1936 2392 2342 554
proportion of 6.64% 8.16% 3.95% 11.57% 18.67% 23.07% 22.59% 5.34%
Source: Federal Statistical Office, population by age at the end of 2018


The Obwalden Cantonal Hospital employs 440 people. Other major employers are the Leister Group in Kägiswil and the Obwaldner Kantonalbank .

In 2008 there were 7,140 employees in 853 companies in Sarnen. 5.7% of the employees in Sarnen worked in agriculture / forestry / fishing (sector 1), 27.8% in industry and trade (sector 2) and 66.6% in service companies (sector 3). The unemployment rate in 2011 was 0.94%.

In 2017, of the 8,411 employees, 4,324 were men and 4,087 were women. The numbers for the 3 sectors are as follows:

1st sector
1st sector
Full-time positions
1st sector
2nd sector
2nd sector
Full-time positions
2nd sector
3rd sector
3rd sector
Full-time positions
3rd sector

Total full-time positions
number 144 363 229 142 2019 1792 961 6029 4365 1247 8411 6386
proportion of 11.55% 4.32% 3.59% 11.39% 24.00% 28.06% 77.06% 71.68% 68.35% 100% 100% 100%
Source: Federal Statistical Office; Statistics of the company structure STATENT, workplaces and employees by municipality and economic sector


Landsgemeinde 1987 on the Landenberg

The most important sights are the Landenberg (former seat of the governors, from the 17th to the 20th century the meeting place of the Obwalden Landsgemeinde), the village square , the Grundacherhaus and the Obwalden Historical Museum in the former Sarnen barracks .

The Hexenturm on the left bank of the Sarner Aa is also worth seeing . It is one of the few remaining castle towers from the time when the Swiss Confederation was formed and is a listed building by the Central Swiss Heritage Protection. It was built before 1291 and came into the possession of the state of Obwalden around 1308 after being taken without violence. In the following years it served as a prison, interrogation chamber, treasure tower, archive and museum. Today the Obwalden State Archive is housed in the tower, which also includes the White Book of Sarnen . In 2009 a new self-supporting steel staircase was added.

The parish church of St. Peter and Paul in the Kirchhofen part of the village is a closed, late Baroque building that, with its location above the lake, radiates far into the surrounding area. It is listed as a cultural asset of national importance . The collegiate church of St. Martin is also under monument protection, and its design is reminiscent of the work of the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier . The St. Andreas convent is a place of pilgrimage with the Child Jesus from Sarnen from around 1360. In addition, the collection and music collection of the convent is one of the cultural assets of national importance.


culture and education

Sarnen is known for its traditional music. In summer there is a small music festival, the HUIS Festival . The Obwalden canton library with an important historical book inventory is housed in the listed Grundacherhaus .

Sarnen is the seat of district school Obwalden , the work and training center Obwalden , the advanced school medical technology , the school sarnen (kindergarten, primary school and secondary / Integrated Orientierungsschule), of two private schools and leisure center Obwalden .

Information at the end of each year


Sarnen is well developed thanks to a full connection to the A8 motorway . The journey time to Lucerne is around 20 minutes. The Lucerne – Interlaken cantonal road runs right through the village.

Sarnen station on the Brünigbahn (today: Zentralbahn ) has made it possible to reach the village by rail since 1888. There are also bus connections with post bus lines . These lead to Alpnach -Dorf, Kerns , Wilen and on the Glaubberg . In summer, the Seestern cruise ship operates on Lake Sarnen and goes to all places around Lake Sarnen from Sarnen.

The Kägiswil airfield is located in the Kägiswil district .

For the historical traffic situation in Sarnen, see the information from the canton of Obwalden .


The former Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard has been the first and only honorary citizen of Sarnen since May 2019 .

Born in Sarnen:


The life reform sanatorium Friedenfels was opened in Sarnen around 1900 .

The Sarner Schnegel (Limax sarnensis) nudibranch, first found by René Heim on the Faith Mountain near Sarnen, was recognized as a new species of snail in 2009 and named after the place where it was found.


Web links

Wikisource: Sarnen  - Sources and full texts
Commons : Sarnen  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Permanent and non-permanent resident population by year, canton, district, municipality, population type and gender (permanent resident population). In: bfs. . Federal Statistical Office (FSO), August 31, 2019, accessed on December 22, 2019 .
  2. Obwalden in numbers .
  3. ^ Johann Jakob Egli : Nomina geographica. Language and factual explanation of 42,000 geographical names of all regions of the world. Friedrich Brandstetter, 2nd ed. Leipzig 1893, p. 817 (Sarnen) .
  4. von Flüe 2012, p. 13
  5. Sarner Prozess 1591 (protocol), source No. 301 , source work Bruder Klaus - Niklaus von Flüe by Werner T. Huber, accessed on May 7, 2016
  6. Flood Obwalden 2005 (PDF, 4.7 MB) Report of the canton Obwalden with many photos
  7. Flood situation August 2005 Flood report by Verner Nielsen, accessed on January 23, 2012
  8. Seismicity of Northern and Central Switzerland Technical Report NTB 00-05 of Nagra (National Cooperative for the Storage of Radioactive Waste), December 2000
  9. Earthquake damage in Sarnen ( Memento of the original from July 22, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Video by SF Wissen from March 27, 1964, 1:13 min. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. Memories of earthquakes in Obwalden - On March 14, 1964, the epicenter was in Sarnen ( Memento from March 18, 2012 on WebCite ), article in the ONZ Obwalden and Nidwalden newspaper from March 18, 2011. Archived from the original online version on March 18, 2011 March 2012.
  11. Expert report : Earthquakes and cultural assets (PDF) of the working group on earthquakes and cultural assets on behalf of the Federal Office for Civil Protection (FOCP), end of December 2004, page 15 f.
  12. Memory of the earthquake in Obwalden ( Memento of January 4, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), article on the Bluewin news portal.
  13. ^ Hexenturm, Sarnen Page on the Sarnen website
  14. Entry in the Obwalden Cantonal Library, Sarnen in the handbook of historical book collections in Switzerland
  15. ^ BWZ Obwalden: Vocational and advanced training center BWZ Obwalden . 22nd March 2017.
  16. ^ Higher Technical College for Medical Technology Sarnen .
  17. Home .
  18. Obwalden leisure center .
  19. 1850–1950, INSA Inventory of Newer Swiss Architecture 1850–1920, Volume 8 , published by the Society for Swiss Art History, Orell Füssli 1996, ISBN 3-280-02410-2
  20. 1990–2000: Swiss Statistics - Balance of the permanent resident population by cantons, districts and municipalities (XLS)
  21. 2010: Obwalden in numbers , website of the National Economic Department Obwalden
  22. Former Federal Councilor Doris Leuthard is now double Sarnerin. In: Obwaldner Zeitung , May 7, 2019
  23. Newly discovered snail is named Sarner Neue Obwaldner Zeitung, September 18, 2009