Bern sadly was a layover city for me. We stopped on our way back from Zermatt and as our group walked around this beautiful town I couldn’t help but wish I could stay a little longer. Not to mention any city that is so focused on Grizzly Bears is a place I want to hang out in.
To start I need to tell everyone, I love Bears. Everything about them. Bears are magnificent. So when I knew we would be stopping in Bern, a city named after a bear, I couldn’t have been happier. (Yaroslavl, Russia is another wonderful Bear Legend focused City). The legend of how the city was named Bern is also very interesting to me because it sounds like something I would do. The legend is that Berchtold V, the Duke of Zähringen, promised that he would name the city after the first animal he met on his hunt. I can only dream one day that I have the chance to name a city after the first animal I see in the forest. There is also a belief that the city was named after the Verona which used to be known as Bern in Middle High German but I like the hunting legend much more.
Photo Credit: Me
Now one thing that really makes Bern unique is that there are live bears kept in the city. The location is currently called Bärenpark, which is a well sized enclosure equipped with foliage and a swimming pit. This was established in 2009. Before this installment they were kept in a Bärengraben, (Bear Pit) which is still available to see. It’s actually very depressing to see where the past bears lived. It’s literally a small pit in the ground with a tire. The protests that took place between 1994 and 1996 prompted the change. The Bärenpark is gorgeous though. There is something magical about the chance to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sitting next to a huge bear enclosure and a gorgeous river.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia, The Bear Pit Vs the Bear Park
Speaking of the river, the Aare River is a tributary of the High Rhine. It is the longest river that both rises and ends entirely within Switzerland. It’s really gorgeous and I slept with my friends and played cards against the river bank. To be honest, I wish I never had to leave. The river runs against the city center. The main part of the center city is largely medieval and it has even been recognized as a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site.
Photo Credit: Me
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The most famous part of the city is the Zytglogge (Time Bell). This medieval clock is decorated with moving puppets. In the early 13th century, it not only functioned as a clock, but a prison and a guard tower as well. But be warned when the bell strikes it is extremely loud. I would not recommend having a hotel directly next to it.
Photo Credit: Me
The Bern Minster is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland. It was completed in 1893. The Gothic cathedral showcases one of the most complete late Gothic sculpture collections in Europe. It depicts the Christian belief in the Last Judgement where the wicked will be separated from the righteous. While walking around I couldn’t help but feel a bit judged by the looming statue of Michael the Archangel and his raised sword.
Photo Credit: Mike Lehmann, Wikipedia
And if we are going to stay on the topic of terrifying things I think the logical next step would be to talk about the Ogre of the Kindlifresserbrunnen (Child Eater Fountain). This statue is found in the Kornhausplatz of Bern but don’t worry terrifying images similar to this one are scattered all over the city (eleven to be exact). There are a few reasons as to what this statue was meant to resemble. I prefer to think of it as a deviation from the German Christmas Figure Krumpus (a creature that punishes bad children at Christmas time) or a strange interpretation of the Greek God Cronus is eating his children. There are multiple other theories as to its purpose but the one thing it does accomplish is creeping me out.
Photo Credit: Andrew Bossi, Wikipedia
Also in the older part of the city is Albert Einsteins house. Kramgasse 49 to be exact. Einstein lived there from 1903 to 1905. He even published the Annus Marabilis Papers there. It’s a pretty simple location that is worth a look if you are really interested in tracking the lives of historical figures.
Photo Credit: Colin who took the picture of me and Kate
The Bundeshaus of Bern (Federal Palace) is where the Swiss Federal Assembly and the Federal Council are housed. It’s a gorgeous building surrounded by beautiful gardens and a giant chess set.
One thing I didn’t get to do while in Bern was visiting the Rosengarten (Rose Garden). There one can see a gorgeous layout of the city. I stole a picture from bern.com to show you all. I hope no one else makes a terrible choice of trying to catch your train on time instead of seeing these roses.
Photo Credit: Bern.com