Inventories and advisory

Neue Aargauerstrasse

The new Aargauer road near Schönbühl BE; cobblestones from the 18th century



IVS-GIS (external Link)

Website of the IVS (ASTRA) (external Link)

20 years of work for a unique enterprise: the Inventory of Historical Traffic Routes in Switzerland (IVS)

The Inventory of Historical Traffic Routes in Switzerland, IVS, is a unique enterprise worldwide: on behalf of the Swiss Confederation ViaStoria has created a cartographical and descriptive survey of all roads and paths, based on their historical traffic importance or on the preserved historical structures of national importance. The project has finished in 2003.

The inventory rests upon Article 5 of the Swiss Federal Law for the Protection of Nature and Landscape (NHG) and is one of three federal inventories, the others being an Inventory of Built Areas to be Protected (ISOS) and the Federal Inventory of Landscapes, Sites and Natural Monuments of National Importance (IFP). The IVS is a tool for the protection and preservation of important elements of our cultural landscape but it also supplies precious fundamental information to traffic research and tourism.

The work has started in the mid 1980’s and according to the federal mission finished by the end of 2003. This, however, only represents a small step towards an effective protection of historical ways of communication. Further steps will be: holding hearings on the IVS in the cantons, bringing the Inventory into force by the Federal Government, introducing the IVS in the list of federal tasks and enforcing an efficient completion of the inventory by the cantons. These tasks, as well as the publication of the IVS in an appropriate form, are in the hands of the respective authority, the Swiss Federal Roads Office (FEDRO).


The Method and the Product

For the inventories established according to Article 5 (NHG), the Federal Law for the Protection of Nature and Cultural Heritage prescribes a classification of the objects in one of three categories of national, regional and local importance. This classification is established on the one hand according to the role played by the historical way of communication, and on the other by its morphological substance, in other words the historical records still visible in the landscape. Only historical ways of communication of national importance are placed in the national inventory. The topographical Atlas of Switzerland, better known as the «Siegfried map», established at the end of the 19th century, is used as a time limit to define the roads taken into consideration by the inventory.

After a selective analysis, completely distinct from the NHG classification that intervenes later, the network of historical ways itemized by this set of maps is walked on in the terrain and the historical substance still present is systematically surveyed. This survey is the basis for the field map that is a part of the IVS documentation.

The communication function of each way is documented and evaluated with the help of historical works, ancient maps and iconographic documents. The historical research and the results of the field survey are recorded in the descriptive part of the IVS documentation. Together they allow to establish the NGH classification of each way of communication that has been recorded graphically on the inventory map.

A committee formed of representatives from organizations, universities, political authorities and organizations concerned has accompanied the work of the IVS and guarantees the quality of the product.


Field map IVS


Inventory map IVS