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Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona

Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona

The Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona is a significant example of the process of mountain building.

The area of this "tectonic arena" encompasses 32.850 hectare of mainly mountainous landscape in 19 communities between the Surselva, Linthtal and Walensee. In the arena are a number of peaks higher than 3000 meters, such as Surenstock (its Romansh name is Piz Sardona, from which the name comes), Ringelspitz and Pizol.

The Tectonic Arena contains a major break in the Earth's crust: the Glarus thrust. The Glarus thrust is a well accessible example of thrust faults in general, and has as such played an important role in the development of geological knowledge on mountain building.

Map of Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona


  • Natural

Visit August 2012

For my visit I chose the approach from the south side. Two chairlifts and a cable car ride from the town of Flims brought me up on the Fil de Cassons, at the altitude of 2634m. This mountain ridge itself is part of the core zone of the WHS. The best thing however is the view on the surrounding mountains: no less than 555 Alpine peaks can be seen from here on a clear day. And although IUCN did not value the scenery as exceptionally beautiful, I found the 360 degree view pretty spectacular.

August 2012

There's an easy hike at the ridge of the Cassons with displays to tell you all about the geology, flora and fauna. In preparation I had tried to read the nomination file for this WHS, but it seems to have been drafted specifically for geology experts. It includes so many specific words that I did not really got a clue what it all is about. The only element that I can reproduce is that older rocks occur here on top of younger rocks, an effect created by the movement of the earth crust. The different effects this has on the layout of the mountains can indeed be easily seen from here.

August 2012

The area also is the starting point for several hikes. From Cassons I walked down to the lowest cable car station in Naraus. The path descends very steeply all the way. It is narrow, and loose stones and muddy stretches keep you on alert all the time. Including stops it took me 2.5 hours to get down, an hour more than the hike is advertised with. As I am writing this a day later, I can still feel the pain in my upper legs...

August 2012

Community Reviews

Clyde Malta 04-Jul-14

Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona by Clyde

I visited this WHS in June 2014. I based myself in Flims and already getting there by car made my trip worthwhile. About 100m from the tourist information centre, I bought my tickets to the Fil de Cassons. From Flims I went up to Foppa (1420m) by chairlift, up to Naraus (1843m) again by chairlift, and up to Cassonsgrat (2695m) by cable car. The return trip cost around 35 euros. At every stop there are information boards, a bar or restaurant, a panoramic viewpoint and toilets. I suggest taking your time to acclimitise at each stop to avoid any possible altitude sickness. The temperature difference from Flims to Cassons was around 18 degrees so wear layers and bring a good windjacket and good hiking boots. Once I arrived at Cassonsgrat, I hiked at the panoramic viewpoint with the UNESCO information boards and a clear view of the Tschingelhörner. From there I ventured on a strenuous hike on a trail called "Fuorcla Raschaglius" (30 minutes) and another trail called "Pass dil Segnas" (2.5hours). Although I visited in late June, it was quite cold and there was quite a lot of snow left. After spotting several marmots and alpine birds and flora, I found my way back to Cassons and down to Flims.

John booth New Zealand 20-Sep-11

Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona by john booth

I visited the Sardona range from two sides. From the north by the bergbahn from Flims, accessed by postbus from Chur. The next day I approached from the south, by cable car from Elm, accessed by Postbus from Schwanden.

More of the tectonic area is visible from the south side.

Alliosoncita La unica Peruchita Switzerland 16-Jul-10

The most impressive mountains of the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona are the Tschingelhörner. To go there I suggest you travel to Elm, a small picturesque village in the Glarus region. The village is easily reached by car. Otherwise take a bus from Glarus (the city) as there is no train. In Elm you will find a small funicular that brings you close to the mountains. To get a closer look the only way is to hike. There are (quiet expensive) 1 to 2 days guided tours on weekends that bring you close to the Tschingelhörner. To see the whole area you can hike from Elm to Flims. The trip takes about 6.5 hours and shouldn't be done by inexperienced mountain hikers.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 2.77. Based on 11 votes.

Site Info

Full name: The Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona

Unesco ID: 1179

Inscribed: 2008

Type: Natural

Criteria: 8  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2008 - Inscribed 
  • 2005 - Requested by State Party to not be examined As Glarus Overthrust


The site has 1 locations.

  • Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona


The site has 10 connections.



  • Damaged by Landslide: The Glarus Alps are ... the site of the largest post-glacial landslide in the Central Alpine region (AB ev)


  • Alps
  • Glaciers: Inludes the summit of Piz Sardona 3055m - "To the east of the summit you find the glacier "Sardona-Gletscher" and to the south the glacier "Glatscher dil Segnas""


  • Eocene: Entlang der weit herum sichtbaren Linie, der "Glarner Hauptüberschiebung", schoben sich 250-300 Mio. Jahre alte Gesteine über eine Distanz von 35- 40 Kilometern auf viel jüngere, 35-50 Mio. Jahre alte Gesteine. Link

WHS Hotspots

World Heritage Process