Camping Giessen im Binntal, Wallis
Camping Giessen im Binntal, Wallis
Camping Giessen im Binntal, Wallis
Camping Giessen im Binntal, Wallis
Camping Giessen im Binntal, Wallis

The Joy of Gemstones

The "Binntälli" (little valley of Binn) as it is affectionately called by the locals has for hundreds of years a magnet for academics, researchers, and rock collectors. Documents in the community archives dated 1609 and 1714 attest to this fact.

K. Jost wrote a history of history of Binntal in 1946, which includes: "Binn – the valley of crystals – was not named as such because of the rocky, narrow gateway that forms the entrance, nor because it was particularly rocky. No, this name stems from the crystals which are peculiar to Binntal…

…Crystals and passes aren’t merely two words for residents and guests; over the course of the last two centuries they have come to be central ideas intimately connected with the development and renown of the valley."

The Lengenbach quarry was reopened in 1958, and has been in continuous operation ever since. It is one of the ten richest mineral deposits in the world. Its fame is thanks not only to the fascinating contrast of blood-red Realgarkristalle on snow-white Dolomite, but especially the much less common Arsen-Sulfosalzen such as Hatchit, Imhofit and Edenharterit, to mention a few. Finds have included a variety of semi-precious gemstones such as Adula, aragonite, barytes, Chrysokoll, lodestone, pyrite and many more.

For mineralogists the valley of Binn is one of the most famous in the world due to the multitude of gems and their fine crystallization. Gems from Binntal fill not only entire departments in big museums of metropolises like Paris, London and Berlin, but also the showcases of many private collectors.

These local museums host especially interesting collections of the treasures of Binntal:

The André Gorsatt minerals museum

Apart from the mineral specimens found in Lengenbach, there was for many years no collection in Switzerland of the local fissure minerals from the Binntal area. André Grosatt from Imfeld was a passionate collector of mineral specimens in the Binntal, assembling a unique collection over a period of 55 years. For 16 years, up until the autumn of 2011, the collection was on display in an exhibition room in his home. To prevent the collection from later being split up and scattered all over the world, André Gorsatt then made an important decision, and the collection has now been housed since July 2012 in a newly built minerals museum, making the Binntal minerals readily accessible to the public. The non-profit foundation, the André Gorsatt Minerals Foundation, was founded at the same time to ensure that the Binntal minerals remain in the valley and are preserved for posterity in their place of origin. The Andre Gorsatt minerals museum holds over 1,000 unique mineral specimens.

On 25 November 2016, André Gorsatt was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Basel in recognition of his services recording the mineralogy of the Binntal and the discovery of new minerals. For more informations (in German):

The Binn regional museum Binn

The Binn regional museum was opened in 1982. It is housed in the former dependence of the Hotel Ofenhorn. Whereas the first floor is devoted to archaeology and local history, the ground has an exhibition of minerals from the extensive collection of the local community of Binn, which is legally entitled to a share of the minerals extracted from the Lengenbach quarry (3 km to the east of Schmidigehiischere).

Other exhibits are by kind permission of the local mineralogist Prof. Stefan Graeser, several Swiss museums and local radiographer Toni Imhof, whose father used to run the quarry. Visitors can also admire geology maps and two models of the Lengenbach quarry (not open to the public). For more informations (in German):

Further Information for Excursions, Polishing courses, Sales, etc.

Picture captions from above:

  • band of Dolomite in Wyssi; A. Gorsatt
  • Aquamarine with copper; A. Gorsatt
  • Quartz from Halsensee; S. Weiss
  • Octahedrite from Mittlenberg; S. Weiss
Last update: 01.05.2020