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Neuchâtel, located between Lake Neuchâtel and France, is one of Switzerland's 22 cantons. Lake Neuchâtel forms part of the southeastern border of the canton. The Canton of Bern neighbors Neuchâtel on the northeast, while the southwestern edge of Neuchâtel is shared with the canton of Vaud. To the northwest, the canton neighbors France.[3] Geographically, the canton of Neuchâtel stretches across the Jura Mountains and can be divided into three subdivisions, the vineyards region near the lake; Les Vallées (formed by the two largest valleys in the canton), which is further to the north; and the Neuchâtelois Mountains region being the northernmost subdivision of the region.[2] The canton's capital, also called Neuchâtel, stands on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel, surrounded by vineyards. The city's predominant feature is its castle on the hill, after which it is named.[6] One of the attractions in the city of Neuchâtel is the Laténium Museum, housing numerous local and foreign historical artifacts.[8] There are also several preserved territories within Neuchâtel canton's borders. One of them is the Creux du Van, which is a 160 m high rock wall shaped by prehistoric oceans. The local nature and species are protected by a nature reserve.[4] La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle, both villages have been found to contain historical heritage with considerable watchmaking traditions. The villages are protected by UNESCO primarily for their distinct city planning.[10] 

What Neuchâtel is known for

The Neuchâtel canton is named after its capital city, Neuchâtel, which is found in the southeastern part of the territory on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel. The city stands surrounded by vineyards, while its center has a historic character, as most buildings can be dated back to medieval times of the 16th and 17th centuries. One of the local attractions is Lake Neuchâtel, which is the most extensive water surface wholly located within Switzerland's borders. The lakes of Neuchatel, Murten, and Biel build the three-lakes-region. It is possible to experience a boat trip through all three lakes. Another attraction connected to local nature is the Botanical Garden of Neuchâtel City, where the local species can be found on the Jura hills.[6] The city's name derives from a relatively well-preserved castle, approximately 1,000 years old. The castle Neuchâtel stands on the lower hill above the old town, offering views of the city, lake, and surrounding area. The castle is nowadays a seat of the canton's parliament and the Grand Council.[7] For tourists seeking historical and cultural heritage, there's a historical and archeological museum located in the city of Neuchâtel, called Laténium. The museum holds approximately 525,000 objects, ranging from the Middle Palaeolithic to Modern times. Apart from the locally excavated artifacts, in Laténium there are also several foreign collections, namely from Italy, Greece, Russia, Palestine, and Tunisia.[8] From the local excavations to Laténium houses replicas of prehistoric settlements and pile dwellings, which have been found underground or covered by the waters of Lake Neuchâtel, are now protected by UNESCO.[9]

Beyond prehistoric dwellings, UNESCO also protects several relatively modern villages in Neuchâtel canton, namely the La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle. These two towns reportedly bear a considerable heritage of watchmaking. Thus, the towns' planning and architecture reflect watchmakers' needs and are reportedly rationally organized. The villages' watchmaking layout accommodated local watch producers' needs during the 17th century. Since then, the watchmaking tradition in the two towns has been alive to this day.[10]  


Neuchâtel canton can be found in the western part of Switzerland, in the area known as Romandy. The canton stretches between the French border to the northwest and the shores of Lake Neuchâtel located southeast of the canton. Thus, the Neuchâtel Lake drains the territory to the south, while the Doubs River drains the canton's northeastern areas. Most of the Neuchâtel's land is covered by the Jura mountain region. Neuchâtel canton tends to be divided into three parts. The viticultural area can be found near Neuchâtel Lake. Then, further to the north, there's Les Vallées, with the canton's two most extensive valleys, the Ruz Valley and the Val de Travers. The third part is represented by the highest region of the canton, the Neuchâtelois Mountains, with an altitude ranging from 900 m to 1065 m above sea level.[2] Concerning local produce, several wineries can be found in the Neuchâtel region. Additionally, in Le Vignoble, fruit is grown and horses are raised. There are also several cattle pastures where the cheese is produced as well. In terms of mineral wealth, asphalt is exploited in the Travers Valley.[3]

One of the natural landmarks in Neuchâtel is the Creux du Van, a 160-meter-high vertical rock surrounding a four-kilometer-long and over one-kilometer-wide valley basin. The prehistoric ocean has shaped the rock formation into its today's form. The rock facade is formed by the approximately 200 million-year-old lime deposits, which give insight into the geology of the Jurassic era. The local flora and fauna are arctic-alpine, with species such as chamois, ibex, lynx, and others inhabiting the area. Approximately 25 km of the surrounding land is protected by law as a nature reserve.[4] 

Concerning the average temperatures in Neuchâtel canton's capital, also called Neuchâtel, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 23°C. January is the coldest month, with 1°C being the average temperature. February tends to be the driest month in Neuchâtel due to having 59 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving about 115 mm on average.[5]


The earliest human traces in the Neuchâtel territory can be dated back to the ancient era, approximately 13,000 BC. There were found the remains of the Magdalenian hunting camp, consisting of fire pits with flints and remains of bones. Additionally, three lignite earrings were found at the excavation site as well. Allegedly, the earrings may have served as a symbol of fertility. To this day, the earrings are Switzerland’s oldest known piece of art. The exact spot later also served as a hunting camp of another tribe, the Azilians, who hunted deer and wild boars, in approximately 11,000 BC.[1]

The first written mentions of Neuchâtel can be dated back to 1032, when its ruler, Rudolph III of Burgundy, mentioned Neuchâtel in his will. The town and surrounding territories were, after that, ruled by the dynasty of Ulrich count of Fenis (Hasenburg). In 1405, Neuchâtel and Bern formed a union. At that time, the town's rule and the municipal area came into possession of the Zähringen Lords of Freiburg. However, by the end of the 15th century, the territory was governed by margraves ruling over the House of Baden. Additionally, for a brief period of time in the 16th century, the Neuchâtel territory also belonged to France.[2]

French preacher, Guillaume Farel, introduced reformation ideas to the Neuchâtel area in 1530. Consequently, in 1648, the territory gained the status of a principality. Over the following two decades, the area of Neuchâtel alternatively belonged to Prussia and later to France again. Finally, the area was admitted to the Swiss Confederation in 1815 as the country’s only non-republican member. The hereditary form of rule lasted in Neuchâtel until 1848, when the peaceful revolution occurred, leading to the territory gaining a republican form of government.[3]