19 March 2007

A Capital Experience: Bern


Bear guarding Bern on the shores of Aare River.


On Saturday some friends came with us for a visit to Bern, the capital of Switzerland.

Established in 1191, Bern's city center is quiet and compact. After a fire in 1405, wooden buildings were no longer allowed. So the city center is rather imposing with many grey stone buildings.

I have to admit, I had thought Bern would be prettier than it was. But it was still a lovely day and we enjoyed our visit. I do not have a burning desire to return, but I will at some stage as we did not have time to visit the Paul Klee Center, dedicated solely to the artist's works.

Here are some photos of what we did see...


The Prison Tower (Käfigturm) was once part of the city wall. Built around 1256, it was renovated in the 1640's and served as a prison until 1897.







Swiss Mercenaries returning from the Netherlands brought smoking back to Bern. It was outlawed within the city walls, so they hid their habit in the Dutch Tower.

If only that were still true!













Promenade behind Parliament (Bundeshaus) with an impressive view. On a clear day you can see peaks of Eigerm Mönch and Jungfrau. Saturday was not a clear day, but it was pretty none the less!

I did not take a photo of the Parliament Building as it was covered with scaffolding and sheeting. The renovations will not be completed until 2008.





















This water fountain by Swiss realist Meret Oppenheim caused an uproar when it was first put up in 1983. The locals thought it incredibly ugly and tried to force it's removal. They did not succeed. I can only imagine they have become accustomed to it...



View of city and Bern Cathedral from the Kirchenfeld Bridge.




Right next to the Bern Cathedral are some lovely old apartments with terraced gardens. This was perhaps my favorite part of the city!





5 comments:

Di said...

I agree! I was a little disappointed by Bern but I can't recommend the Zentrum Paul Klee highly enough! Klee is my all time favourite artist so when visiting friends in Lausanne I took a day trip to Bern just so I could go to the Zentrum. They only display about 200 paintings at a time and I still managed to be there for nearly 3 hours. The kids centre looked great too! Definitely make a trip back.

Un-Swiss Miss said...

I noticed it was a bit cloudy when you were there. While Bern isn't cute and charming, with its cobblestoned streets and fountains, it's got a stately elegance that really shines through when the sun's out and the flowers are in bloom. I love the walk up from the Barengraben to the Zytglogg! Also, the Aare has lovely parks (and a zoo) running along its banks, and the farmer's market beats any other one that I've seen. (Admittedly, the only market I've seen in Zurich is the specialty market that's at the train station evey Wednesday.) So if you're thinking of going back for the Klee museum (great architecture, not a fan of his painting), give the rest of the city another shot!

Global Librarian said...

How about this, Un-Swiss Miss? I'll come back on a sunny day in the Spring and you can show me the best that Bern has to offer?

Expat Traveler said...

I think you need to go back on a great spring day when the markets are up and the streets are buzzing and window shopping is on the list.

you also might note there is a great English book section in one of the book stores on the opposite side of bundeshaus... Now I forget the name but I'm sure with research you'd find it...

Lovely pics, and again I'm so jealous of your nice weather! Compared to dull Canada I think those buildings are paradise to look at...

Kirk said...

I think one of my favorite things in Bern was the fountain with a child-eating ogre just off the main shopping street...I could just imagine parents walking their kids past it to remind them what could happen if they were disobedient.