Bernese Highlands, Switzerland
Berner Oberland, Schweiz - II
- guest starring Tink (Tiny Kitty Collier) -
Berne is the capital both of Switzerland and the canton of Berne. The name is generally thought to be derived from "bear", and a local legend tells of the city founder in the 12th century naming it after a bear he had caught. Historians consider it more likely that he named the town after the Italian city of Verona, which was also called "Bern" in German at the time. There is a famous circle of legends about Dietrich von Bern - the Ostrogoth king Theoderic.
Nevertheless, the bear is the symbol of Berne to this day, and there are plenty of bears everywhere in the city. This friendly fellow here is one of four guarding the Erlachdenkmal.
The fellow on the horse is Rudolf von Erlach, the victor of the battle of Laupen.
Berne had become a free imperial city after its founding family had died out. In the 14th century, it was expanding its wealth and territory, much to the dislike of the Burgundy and Habsburg families who owned the surrounding territories. It came to a battle, wich Erlach won for Berne, securing its freedom. Soon after, Berne then joined the Swiss conferedacy as its 8th canton for protection.
The streets - and Erlach´s statue - are already decorated for the upcoming national holiday. Berne´s Old City has retained its original medieval character - a fact which it owed to a disaster. In 1405 a fire broke out, which destroyed most of the buildings in town which at that point had been predominantly wooden. In the wake of this disaster, the city was rebuilt with all stone houses in similar medieval styles. The arcades were added throughout the 15th Century as houses expanded in the upper stories out into the street. Throughout the next three centuries houses were modified, but the essential elements (stone construction, arcades) remained.
Zytglogge (time bell) tower was one of the former city gates. Built in the early 13th century, it has served the city as guard tower, prison, clock tower, center of urban life and civic memorial. The astronomical clock was installed in the 15th century.
A "time bell" was one of the earliest public timekeeping devices, consisting of a clockwork connected to a hammer that rang a small bell at the full hour. It also served to alert the bell-ringer to ring the tower bells. (Wikipedia)
Souvenir booth at the foot of Zytglogge.
Käfigturm (prison tower), another one of the former city gates which was also used - as the name implies - as a prison.
In its front, you can see the first of many 16th century fountains all over Berne. They served to show the power and wealth of the city, a a powerful and rich city-state at the time, as well as providing fresh water for the citizens.
The statue on this fountain depicts a woman filling a cup from a jar, thought to represent the cardinal virtue of temperance. Since the woman is thought to portray Anna Seiler, the founder of Inselspital, it is called the Anna Seiler Brunnen.
Schuetzenbrunnen (musketeers´ fountain). The statue depicts a captain of the musketeers with a banner in one hand, a sword in the other. Between his legs, a bear cub is aiming a musket at passers-by.
No, we haven´t been suddenly teleported to Paris. The pointed tower in the backgroun that looks a bit like the Eiffel tower is the top of Berne Minster. Construction on the Minster began in 1421 and finished with the bell tower in 1893. The bell tower is 100m (328 ft) and is the tallest in Switzerland. The largest bell in the bell tower is also the largest bell in Switzerland. This enormous bell, weighing about 10 tons and 247 cm (8.1 ft) in diameter, was cast in 1611 and is still rung every day. (Wikipedia)
The city theatre.
The Kindlifresserbrunnen (child eater´s fountain). The statue depicts an ogre eating a child while more victims are struggling in a sack by his side. Some have associated it with the Greek god Chronos, others claim it alludes to the ritual murder of children people once thought Jews did commit (because of the statue´s pointed hat). It is most likely simply a local boogeyman to scare naughty children with.
Berne´s Old City Centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is here that Albert Einstein developped his famous Relativity Theory while working for the local patent office.
And another bear. Across the river is the rather sad Bärengraben (bear pits), two large sunken dens which have housed a collection of shaggy brown bears – the symbol of Bern – since the early sixteenth century. The current occupants may look as if they’re struggling to find a reason to go on with life, but don’t be fooled; late one night in 1998, an unfortunate beer-happy individual fell into the pit, was welcomed by its occupants and didn’t survive to tell the tale. (www.switzerland.isyours.com)
The eighteenth-century figures on the facades indicated the location of Bern’s various craft guilds: the Moor represented the clothworkers, the ape stonemasons and bricklayers, and the axe-wielding carpenter graphically demonstrates his own trade.
View from Nydegg bridge over the river Aare
Untertorbrücke - one of the oldest bridges in Switzerland (1468) and until 1840, the only bridge over the Aare near Berne.
View from the remains of Nydegg castle (built probably before the city´s foundation and long since destroyed) over the Old City - this is Nydegg church.
Ballenberg Open Air Museum
Ballenberg is located near Interlaken. It assembles more than 100 original buildings from all parts of Switzerland.
This villa in mock rural architecture was built by a cloth manufacturer in 1872. It is one of the earliest of many mansions in Chalet style, inspired by idealized concepts of the free and happy life of shepherds and farmers.
These thatched buildings represent one of the most popular and well-known building types on Switzerland, although many of the older buildings still in actual use have by now received tiled roofs. They are approx. 17th - 18th century.
The main farmhouse was used by two families.
This is what it looked like in those farm houses.
The owners of this one lived in luxury compared to many others!
No Open Air museum without animals!
An old school room
A visit to the barber in the 1930s must have been a scary experience. Just look at the brain frying... err curling machine on the left!
This hut is pretty much what Heidi would have lived in with her grandfather.
We took the funicular down from Gimmelwald to Stechelberg.
Then we walked from Stechelberg towards Lauterbrunnen. That´s the "Staubbach" coming down from the rocks.
The Truemmelbach Falls are located between Lauterbrunnen and Stechelberg. They are another UNESCO World Heritage site. Ten glacial water falls inside the mountain, made accessible by a tunnel lift.
Truemmelbach alone drains the enormous glacial walls of Eiger, Moench and Jungfraui with up to 20.000 litres per second.
All the Truemmelbach Falls except the lowest were invisible to human eyes, and unapprochable, from the last Ice Age about 15'000 years ago until they were first rendered accessible in 1877. They were hidden inside the mountain, which is why the name «Trümmelbach» does not convey a visual impression, as is the rule with waterfalls, but an acoustic one. «Trümmelbach» comes from «Trommelbach» meaning a stream that sounds like a drum. (www.gimmelwald-news.ch)
View from the top into the valley