Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bern, Switzerland

Today we are going to be traveling to Switzerland's capital city, Bern. German is the official language of Bern. The language is called Alemannic dialect, Bernese German. However, most residents speak both. English and French are also fairly spoken, but to a lesser extent. There are numerous spellings of Bern deciding on the language. German pronunciation is Bern; French is Berne; Italian is Berna; and Romansh is Berna.

Bern is one of the most popular cantons in Switzerland and was ranked among the world's top ten cities for the best quality of life.

Bern was founded by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen, founded the city on the Aare river in 1191 and allegedly named it after a bear (Bär in German) he had killed. It was made a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Emperor Federick II in 1918 after Berthold died without an heir. In 1352 Bern joined the young Swiss Confederation becoming a leading member of the confederation. It invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories, thereby becoming the largest city-state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when it was stripped of parts of its territories. In 1831 the city became the capital of the Canton of Bern and in 1848 it additionally became the Swiss capital.

A statue of Berthold in Berne.

The Swiss parliament and government building, the Bundeshaus, with its imposing green dome, stands high above the Aare river in the capital, Bern. It has become so much of a landmark that it is hard to imagine what the city skyline looked like before it was there. But the building was only completed in 1902.

The Münster of Bern is the Gothic cathedral. Over the main portal is one of the most
complete Late Gothic sculpture collections in Europe. This collection represents the Christian belief in a Last Judgment where the wicked will be separated from the righteous. This sculpture shows the wicked naked on the left, while the righteous stand clothed in white on the right. In the center is Justice, with Saints and the wise and foolish virgins around her. In the center stands Micheal the Archangel with a raised sword.

The sculptures of the Last Judgement were the only statues in the Münster to survive the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation. The 47 large free-standing statues are replicas (the originals are in the Bern History Museum), and the 170 smaller figures are all original. The Last Judgement was the work of one sculptor, Erhard Küng from Stadtlohn, Westphalia, which gives the collection a unity of design.

Zytgloggeturn is the oldest building and is now the focal point of the city. The oversized clock is one of the biggest attractions in Bern. It was built in the 12th century!!! And the tower still plays a puppet show precisely four minutes before the hour. How amazing.

Rathaus is the oldest city structure is now a government office. This gorgeous building serves as the meeting place of the Bern Municipal Council. It was built during the beginning of the 15th century and has been renovated over the years. Tourist can visit and take walking tours and see medieval artifacts and antiques scattered throughout the building.

The Nydeggbrucke is a stone arch bridge that hovers over the famous Aare River. The scenery is out of this world with a beautiful blue crystal water and lush forests. Bern looks as if it were in a fairytale.

After taking in the sites you might want to sit down and indulge in Swiss cuisine at the famous underground restaurant, Kornhausskeller. Absolutely stunning!!!

Did you know that Albert Einstein lived in Bern? Tourist can visit his apartment where he published his "Special Theory of Relativity." Wow, I would leap at the opportunity to see Einstein's home.

This is a very unique post because I recently was researching my ancestry and found out that my great, great, great, great grandfather was born and raised in Bern. I had no clue we had any connections to Switzerland. My family, both sides, are both very German. This relative is the furthest back I can trace. I wonder where he lived in Bern?


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, I lake it!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post, I lake it!

midnight macaroons said...

Thank you, Zondra. I really had a wonderful time learning about Bern. It is such a lovely city.


GamecockQueen said...

Oh, it does look like a little fairy tale city!! Just precious. I don't always have patience for touristy stuff, but that really looks fun!

hoteldemuenchen said...

Hi Gigi

Thanks for the great insight. The pictues are just fantastic.

If you're interested, I can send you the experiences I made in Bern and you could publish them as a guest post. What do you think?



Antonio Gabriele Fucilone said...

Beautiful blog.
I love medieval art.
It's fantastic.
I'm interested about it.
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