Simon Simon (1857–1925) [1]

Portrait of Simon Simon

Simon Simon, born in Allschwil (Basel, Switzerland), was an engineering student of Albert Heim at ETH Zurich, like Xaver Imfeld and Fridolin Becker. From 1880 to 1886, he worked as a military engineer for the Swiss Federation. 1886, not even 30 years old, he quit his job and dedicated his time to the construction of a relief model of the Bernese Oberland area. Simon Simon was honorary member of the Swiss Alpine Club. In the aftermath of the World War I, he became a pacifist. At the age of 68, he passed away, impoverished and sick of pneumonia.

Relief of the Bernese Oberland from Simon
Bernese Oberland (Switzerland) 1:10,000, 480 x 525 cm, 1886–1914,
Swiss Alpine Museum

He created several terrain models while working as a topographer. His masterpiece was a large model of the Bernese Oberland at a scale of 1:10,000. With an area of 25 m2 (480 x 525 cm), it is the largest model of the Swiss Alps ever built, besides Imfeld’s model of the Jungfrau group. Simon spent 28 years (1886–1914) to complete this work. During eight years, Joseph Reichlin (1872–1927) helped finish the model. The sheets of the “Siegfriedkarte”, 1,700 mountain climbings, 10,000 photos and some thousand drawings were used to model the miniaturised landscape. Simon mainly shaped the regions of the ridges, whereas Reichlin modelled the rest, which constitutes the major part of the area. The quality of this model varies from region to region.

At the Swiss national exhibition in Bern in 1914, this model was first displayed to the public. Today it can be visited at the Swiss Alpine Museum in Berne.

Panorama of the relief of the Bernese Oberland
Panorama of the relief of the Bernese Oberland (Switzerland)
Relief of the Bernese Oberland
Relief of the Bernese Oberland
Relief of the Bernese Oberland
Relief of the Bernese Oberland
Relief of the Bernese Oberland
Relief of the Bernese Oberland


[1] Caminada, Paul. Pioniere der Alpentopographie. 2003. S.209. and Gygax, Fritz. Das topographische Relief in der Schweiz. 1937. S.55-65.