Bern Things to Do Tips by riorich55
Bern Things to Do: 297 reviews and 566 photos
Looking For Some More Food?
UPDATE FROM 30/4/2009 - Pedro, the last Bern Bear Pit resident was euthanized at age 28 suffering from incurable arthritis. The new Bear Pit being built next to the old one is scheduled to open later this year.
From the train station we took a nice leisurely walk to the other edge of town and just across the river are the famous Bear Pits. Actually, being from Chicago and having 2 classic zoos in our area we were a little underwhelmed by the Bear Pits. But as this town has close ties to the Bear and in Chicago our Bears football team is much beloved we had to see this attraction.
Main Church Entrance
I've seen the Munster described as the "Gothic Rocket" and even though we couldn't get the full effect of the tower since there was construction going on at the top, other pictures I've seen clearly show a rocket type look.
Just a few other comments about the Munster. The original builder was Matthaus Ensinger who previously had designed 3 other Cathedrals. He envisioned a grand Cathedral for Bern even though the population in 1421 was only around 5000. Although not as awe inspiring as the other houses of worship we saw in London and Paris, it still gives one pause. When you look at the modern churches constructed today you can only marvel at the intricacies of those centuries old churches.
The Close View of the Good and the Bad
The Berner Munster (collegiate church) was originally build around 1421 as a Berner Dom (Catholic cathedral) and technically not finished in its current state until 1893 when the bell tower was added.
Although many of the statues and images inside the church were destroyed during the Protestant reformation the Saved and Damned carved wood and stone statues of the Last Judgement over the entrance were not probably due to the fact that the Protestants saw this as a very poignant representation of Heaven and Hell. The 170 small carvings are still the 15th century originals while the larger 47 statues are replicas with the originals in a local Bern museum.
We did not get a chance to climb the bell tower when we were there as it was nearing the end of the day and we had already climbed St Paul in London the week before, but the views of the highest tower in Switzerland are great according to other viewers.
Initially we were disappointed with the way the picture on this tip turned out, but the more we looked and saw that most of the damned were in the late afternoon shade while the saved were in the sun actually added to the story of the The Last Judgement.
A Close Up View of Zytglogge
Having read about the clock tower Zytglogge (pronounced tseet-klok-uh), on Swiss travel sites and other VT reviews we started to gather around the clock for some pictures and videos about 10 minutes before the hour (the little clock show start at 4 minutes before the hour). Don't expect a Disneylike display and razzle dazzle and take into consideration that this show has been going on since 1530 and you might appreciate this display a little more.
In the 4 minute show, things move slow through the top of the hour. There is a little display of a crowing cock, a parade of bears, a knight, a piper, a lion, Chronos with his hourglass and a dancing jester.
The clock is both the benchmark of official Bern time and the point at which all distances in the canton are measured. The name Zyglogge is Bernese German and transalates to Zeitglocke in Standard German or "Time Bell" in English.
The original tower was constructed partly in wood in 1218-20 and was destroyed by a fire in 1405 and at some time the tower was converted into a prison for prostitutes who made a living servicing the clergy (I'm not making this up, as this information comes from the official website).
"Below the clock is a very inticate astronomical and astrological device, which, in one small diameter, displays a 24 hour clock, the twelve hours of daylight, the position of the sun in the zodiac, the day of the week, the date and the month, the phases of the moon and the elevation of the sun above the horizon throughout the year."
And You Thought This Was Just A Very Uninspiring Clock?
Look closely at the pictures and you may see some of what has been mentioned.
This Gives Ogres a Bad Reputation
I can just imagine the uproar this fountain statue in Bern would have in the United States. The SCREAMING HEADLINES! would say. We must get rid of the statue it is an affront to all the kind hearted Ogre's out there.
OK a little history. The Kindlifresserbrunnen or "Fountain of the Child Devourer" on the Kornhausplatz is an extraordinary fountain showing an ogre eating one little boy and holding other children in his hand ready for eating later.
Could this ogre statue represent a warning to children to not talk to strangers? How about this is what happens if you don't listen to your parents? Actually it probably is a classic example of the anti-Semitic hatred that was rife all over medieval Europe.
View of the Main Street in Old Town Bern
On a rainy day in early October we spent an afternoon in Bern arriving from Paris before taking the train to our final destination of Lauterbrunnen. We walked through the old town area from the train station to the Bear Pits and then back again. It was a Monday and it seemed that many of the stores were closed, but we did window shop and bought a few boxes of chocolate.
We enjoyed looking and taking pictures of the many statues that are every in the town. We also enjoyed the flowers that seemed to be on every building.
Look What's Behind This Window
After we got our bags situated in the lockers at the railway station we went about to explore the city for the afternoon. In the main square leading into the old town area there are a number of food vendors selling meats, cheeses, flowers, etc. Although we didn't spend much time here (as it was beginning to rain) many of the items looked very tempting.
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