Photo courtesy of Laténium
While many associate them with the British Isles, the Celts were the dominant culture in Switzerland for about a millennium (from around 500 B.C.E. to 400 C.E.). The country's lakes, particularly Lake Neuchâtel, were the epicenter of Celtic culture here during the La Tène era, when Celtic settlements could be found from Turkey to Ireland. The Laténium Park and Archaeological Museum, named after extraordinary excavations in Neuchâtel, is home to the world’s premier collection of Celtic treasures unearthed in Europe. The museum boasts an übermodern design—by a consortium of four Geneva architects—that is impressive, but the hundreds of dazzling items that it houses are the real attraction: a Gallo-Roman ship, a Celtic bridge, and finely wrought gold, glass, and stone treasures found in and around the lakes. Ongoing exhibitions provide introductions to this culture that had a huge influence on the story of Europe. As the Laténium covers some 50,000 years of local history and not just the Celtic period, allow yourself a few hours to digest it all.
By Adam H. Graham, AFAR Contributor
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