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...