Mythical figures

There are several mythical figures that have helped forge Switzerland's identity.

Helvetia on the 2 Swiss franc piece
"Helvetia" on the 2 Swiss franc piece. © EDA, Präsenz Schweiz

  • The adventures of Heidi, a young girl from the Swiss Alps, is famous around the world. The book by Johanna Spyri has been translated into more than 50 languages and has been made into many films.
  • The story of William Tell, the legendary hero of Swiss independence who successfully fought off a bailiff working for the House of Habsburg, is part of Switzerland’s founding myths. Historians believe that Tell’s story has its roots in Viking legend. It was the famous play by German writer Friedrich von Schiller in 1804 that made William Tell a household name.
  • ‘Helvetia’ is a female allegorical figure, who is the personification of the Swiss Confederation. The best known image of Helvetia, with her spear and shield, is the one which appears on Swiss coins (50 centime, 1 franc and 2 franc pieces).