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The town of ZUG (pronounced tsoogk), 22km from Luzern on the north side of the Rigi, is the richest place in Switzerland, which makes it very rich indeed. Tiny Canton Zug has the lowest tax rates in the country – about half the national average – which attracts flocks of multinational corporations, which in turn pushes average per capita net income up to an incredible Fr.70,000 (£30,500) a year. Zug’s modern, business-driven existence proceeds without pomp amidst the glittering offices and malls of the new town, a world away from the picturesque medieval churches and cobbled waterfront lanes of the compact Old Town adjacent. Over the centuries, Zug’s Old Town has regularly suffered from landslides which have deposited buildings and people into the lake, most recently in 1887; today, with the addition of modern retaining lake walls, the danger has receded.

The town’s location on the crystal-blue Zugersee is very attractive, framed by the high wooded plateau of the Zugerberg rising 600m to the east and the peak of the Rigi (see above) on its southwest shores.

The tale of a rat
An apocryphal story tells of how the Zytturm – once the town’s watchtower – came to acquire a painting of a rat. Watchmen holed up in the tower night after night used to complain of the fat, long-tailed rats that scampered around them and stole their food. No way was found to keep the rats away, until a foreign scholar, passing through Zug on his way to Salerno, heard of the problem and advised the watchmen to paint a big, fat rat on the wall where the creatures got into the watchrooms. They did so, and the following night, when the rats appeared again, the watchmen saw them catch sight of the painting, sniff around it, and flee in fear. The painting stayed, and rats have never plagued the Zytturm again.

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