El Castillo, Chichen Itza’s giant pyramid, has stood for a thousand years, more or less. Not so a replica of the monument that was built, in all places, at Interlaken, Switzerland. If the plans of two developers come to fruition, Switzerland’s version of the Temple of Kukulcan will be torn down this fall, five years after it was first built.
El Castillo was part of a theme park dedicated to the writings of Erich von Daniken, who has sold millions of books dedicated to his theory that aliens from other planets came to earth and helped found the world’s ancient civilizations, including the Maya. “Mystery Park” opened in 2003 and quickly became the largest attraction in Switzerland. But in November 2006 it shuttered its doors, a financial failure.
Now two entrepreneurs propose to demolish much of the theme park to build a visitor attraction devoted to less worldly concerns. Peter StÃ¤hli and Stefan Linder purchased Mystery Park for $13.4 million. They have renamed it “Two Lake City” (after the twin lakes that Interlaken straddles) and are now seeking financing to build a hotel and disco, and to convert the attractions into experiences that hew more closely to the country of origin. “We want to emotionalize Swiss stereotypes,” according to the new owners.
As part of the proposed renovations, the current color scheme will be replaced by red with white crosses. The owners plan to repurpose the “flight over the Nazca lines of Peru” and turn it into a simulated Imax flight over the spectacular mountainous region surrounding Interlaken. Another new attraction will be reproducing the experience of climbing north face of the Eiger mountain (Eigernordwand), one of the most dangerous and spectacular climbs in the world. The Eiger is visible from Interlaken, and will be recreated as closely as possible (meaning the attraction will be cold, windy and sheer).
Should the owners get financing by September, the new Two Lake City will open in spring of 2009. Demolition will begin this fall, with construction through the winter.
The fate of the El Castillo pavillion is unclear, but it is unlikely a Maya pyramid will survive demolition. As part of Mystery Park, visitors could go inside the pyramid and view replicas of monuments and artwork by the ancient Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures. There was also a film that promoted a theory that an alien space ship crash landed in Mexico several thousand years ago, and the primitive people who lived there helped the aliens. In return, the aliens took several teenaged boys with them into space, and returned them 52 years later with their minds full of the teachings of their hosts, which they used to found the Maya civilization.
Instead of tearing down the faux-Maya pyramid, the new owners may just throw up a new facade. That’s the way the Maya did it a thousand years ago.
Mystery Park, October 2006 (photo by Evan J. Albright).
An excellent, and very complete article about the new “Two Lake City” can be found HERE. (WARNING: German language)
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