Altdorf is best known as the place where, according to the legend, William Tell shot the apple from his son's head. This act by tradition happened on the market-place, where in 1895, at the foot of an old tower (with rude frescoes commemorating the feat), there was set up a fine bronze statue (by Richard Kissling of Zurich) of Tell and his son.
The newly appointed Austrian Vogt of Altdorf, raised a pole in the village's central square, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the local townsfolk bow before the hat. When Tell passed by the hat without bowing to it, he was arrested. He received the punishment of being forced to shoot an apple off the head of his son, Walter, or else both would be executed. Tell had been promised freedom if he successfully shot the apple.
On 18 November 1307, Tell split the fruit with a single bolt from his crossbow, without mishap.