We went to the Ballenberg Freilicht Museum (Ballenberg Open Air Museum), a collection of rural Swiss architecture spread across 200 acres in a beautiful, wooded setting. Near Brienz in the Aare River Valley, Ballenberg is truly a worthwhile experience. It is easily accessible by car or public transportation (trains from Luzern and Interlaken several times a day). Situated near Interlaken and completely surrounded by the Alps, the views are stunning.
The Ballenberg's collection is comprised of traditional Swiss rural architecture from the different regions of Switzerland. The approximately 100 buildings exhibited here were in danger of being demolished. Instead, they were painstakingly taken apart and the pieces carefully numbered before being transported to the museum grounds, put together again and restored after extensive research on their historical significance.
The buildings are grouped by region into one of thirteen "villages" with paths leading through the woods to connect the areas. I highly recommend you bring your walking shoes as the museum's grounds stretch more than 3 kilometers from the east to the west entrances. And this being Switzerland, there are always hills to climb!
Although a number of the paths are wheelchair accessible and a map is provided to lead visitors with disabilities through the more accessible areas.
Any preceived notions about all traditional Swiss architecture looking like a Swiss Chalet are dispelled. After all, Switzerland was influenced by multiple cultures and what we think of as a Swiss Chalet is typical only in Central Switzerland (in the alps around Interlaken). And architecture from the French and Italian areas is extremely different from what is found in the German areas.
Farmhouse from Ostermundigen, Canton Bern
And as this showcases Rural Switzerland, there are more than 250 animals living on the grounds...
And a few that are no longer living, such as this Bernese Mountain dog...
We fully intend to go again and enter the museum from the other entrance. In addition, we have found a fascinating and engaging museum which we can take visitors. It is even relatively inexpensive. Inexpensive compared to other Swiss attractions, of course!
Here are a few more photos:
Close Up of New Shingles
Dining area of large farmhouse from Villars-Bremard, Canton Vaud
Courtyard of Farmstead from Novazzano, Canton Ticino
Collection of Cow Bells: