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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Thun, Switzerland

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

The sun was shining when I awoke but rain was predicted to start between 3 and 4 o'clock. So... I decided to go to Thun; famous for its castle high atop the hill.

The area of what is now Thun (pronounced tune) was inhabited since the Neolithic age (mid-3rd millennium BC). During the early Bronze Age there were a number of settlements along the lake shore and the Aare. A site at Renzenbühl had a local chief or nobleman's grave which contained one of the richest collections of early Bronze Age artifacts in Europe. Another site at Wiler contained approximately 1,500 maritime snail shells which were harvested from the Mediterranean and traded over the Alps.

The name of the town derives from the Celtic term Dunum, meaning "fortified town". It fell to Rome in 58 BC, when Roman legions conquered almost all of Switzerland, and it soon became one of the main centers of Roman administration in the region.

The Romans were driven out of Thun, and out of the rest of Switzerland, by the Burgundians around 400 AD. The Aare became the frontier between the Christian Burgundians and the Pagan, German-speaking Alemanni, who lived north. The region was mentioned for the first time during the 7th century, in the chronicle of Frankish monk Fredgar. The town is first mentioned in 1133 as Tuno.

The region of Thun became a part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1033, when Conrad II gained the title of King of Burgundy. The emperors entrusted the Zähringen family, centered in Bern, with subduing the unruly nobles of central Switzerland. Around 1190 Duke Bertold V of Zähringen, built Thun castle and expanded the town. After Bertold's death in 1218, his territories went to Ulrich III von Kyburg.

In 1264, Thun received town rights and in 1384 the town was bought by the canton of Bern. Thun was the capital of the Canton of Oberland of the Helvetic Republic, which lasted from 1798 until 1803.

In 1819, a Military School was founded in the town, which later developed into the main military school in Switzerland. Thun was connected to the railway network of Switzerland in 1859 and telephone access made available in 1888.

I stopped at the tourist office to pick up a walking map of the town and to ask if Schadau Castle was closed as I had heard. Michael and I usually have our anniversary dinner there. Unfortunately, it is closed for renovations until next year.

As I walked around town, I could see images of the Fulehung.

Every year, on the last Monday in September, the people of Thun celebrate their folk festival and remember the fool who's name was Fulehung. The festival starts on Sunday with a gun salute on the Kuhbrücke, followed by a parade through down town, a concert on the Rathausplatz and a street dance. There even is an 8 PM curfew around the Rathausplatz.

Partying starts at 9 PM Sunday night with an all night party and you start at 5 AM on Monday looking for the Fulehung. The young people of Thun rush to Rathausplatz, Thun's main square, and up the castle hill, where they wait patiently for their idol, Fulehung.

In earlier times, Fulehung (literally: Lazy Dog) was called "Bajass" or bad man. The story of Fulehung goes back to the time of the Burgundian Wars in 1476, in which the soldiers of Thun received high honors. The court jester, Bajäggal, of Charles the Bold mocked the Bernese and the soldiers of Thun, calling them lazy. When the soldiers caught him during the battle of Murten, in 1476, they brought him to Thun and punished him. During the annual "Anschiesset" festival, the person wearing the mask is teased on his way from the castle to the town hall. With mask, pig bladders and a wooden club, the Fulehung chases young and old through the cobbled streets of Thun. If you are hit with the pig bladders, today they use balloons, it is considered an honor which brings with it good luck.

Michael and I attended the festival one year. I actually caught some candy and I was hit with the balloons. It is crazy fun!!!!! Too many people for Michael, though. I loved chanting Fulehung's name over and over and over to get his attention in hopes he would throw candy my way.

The water is crystal clear. The fish were good size!

This guy was looking for a handout of food. They discourage people from feeding the ducks, swans, fish, etc.

The young swans, known as swanlings or cygnets were starting to have their feathers change from brown to white.

This is not a very good year for flowers in Switzerland. I imagine it was all the hot weather they recently experienced.

The flowers around and on the bridges usually rival those found on the Chapel Bridge in Luzern. The flowers this year were nice but not exceptional.

This is the location where you can usually see people "surfing".

Look up and around. If you don't, you might miss something new and whimsical. may miss something old.

The Town Hall Square is the historic center of Thun and is named after the town hall built in 1500. The square is the heart of many celebrations. The square is also home to the oldest brick house in the town, now the Hotel Rathaus dating from the 14th century. There are also two former guild houses, The Hotel Metzgern and Hotel Krone.

Stadt Thun City Hall.

The Rathaus was built in 1500. It was probably a two story building at that time. There was an open hall on the ground floor and the council chambers above. Today's Rathaus was built in 1685 by combining the old Rathaus with the Grossweibelhaus and the Archive Tower, which was built in 1585. The characteristic of the Thun Rathaus is the generous front façade with the linked window above four flat segmented arched arcades on powerful pillars, as well as the massive pillars and high hipped roof.

The city arms of 1685 held by lions in the center, with the arms of the treasurer Johannes Syder immediately below them.

A busy shopping street

There are many steps to go up to or to go down from the castle.

I thank my sister every day for recommending Saucony Everun Sneakers. They are fabulous! My feet at the end of the day thank her. Cobble stones can be a killer for the feet!!!!

Thun Castle

During the Early Middle Ages there was a small fort and church on the top of the castle hill. The castle was built between 1180 and 1190 by Duke Berthold V of Zähringen, who constructed the still preserved keep to the level of the Knights' Hall. The 14 m (46 ft) tall Knights' Hall was built as the centerpiece of a monument to Zähringen power. However, the family never lived in the castle, preferring Burgdorf Castle.

In 1218, it was inherited by the House of Kyburg, who built the upper levels above the Zähringen castle. A quarrel over whom would rule the southern Kyburg lands led, in 1322, to Eberhard II von Kyburg murdering his brother Hartmann II at the castle. To protect his newly acquired land from the Habsburgs, Eberhard II then sold them to Bern and was promptly given them back as a fief. The Kyburgs ruled over the region for nearly two centuries until a failed raid by Rudolf II on Solothurn, in 1382, started the Burgdorferkrieg. After several decisive Bernese victories, the Kyburgs were forced to concede an unfavorable peace.

In 1384, Bern bought Thun and Burgdorf, the most important cities of the Kyburg lands. The castle came under Bernese control and became the seat of their local administration.

The massive roof (1430–36) comes from the Bernese period. Due to the lack of residences in the castle, in 1429, an administrative and residential wing was added to the west of the keep, built in late Gothic style, and known as the "new castle". The castle was the seat of the local court and since at least the 17th century, there was a prison under the roof of the dungeon.

In 1886, a new prison was built on the castle grounds. Two years later, in 1888, the museum opened in the castle. For a time the jailer was also the ticket seller and guard for the museum.

In 2006, the castle was bought by the city of Thun from the canton of Bern. Until the end of 2009, the Bernese Oberland regional court was based in the castle.

The castle walls and gate.

Stadtkirche Thun

The Stadtkirche (city church) is the city's main Reformed church. The church, which dominates the Old Town of Thun, is definied by its striking medieval tower and spacious baroque aisle.

The massive octagonal front tower of the Stadtkirche Thun dates back to around 1330. The main entrance and the arched porch are both located on the ground floor of the tower base. The tower hall with its three pointed arched openings is decorated with paintings from around 1430. The nave is relatively new and was added in 1738. The late baroque sermon hall, decorated with stucco work, the communion table and pulpit (both in Renaissance style), as well as a plaque of stucco marble and a bronze sculpture are all worth seeing.

I lit a few candles and said special intentions for people. It was difficult to take a picture while holding the candle so I only took one picture. Michael is usually here to take the picture.

Even had time for a couple flower pictures.

The weather held off so I decided to take the two hour boat ride back to Interlaken. I sat in the sun for 5 minutes before I asked an elderly gentleman if I could sit with him, as that was the only place in the shade. He was from Devon. He has been coming to this area to close to 30 years. We had a pleasant conversation. His wife has passed and he feels close to her when he is in this area. They both loved the mountains.

Some highlights.

Oberhofen Castle

During the High Middle Ages the Freiherr von Oberhofen built Balm Castle on a hill above the village. In 1200, a daughter of the family, Ita, married into the von Eschenbach family and gave this family the castle and village.

In the 13th century, they began a new, moated castle on the shores of Lake Thun. One of the last owners of the castle, Walter IV von Eschenbach, was assassinated along with King Albert I in 1308 by Albert's nephew John.

In 1306, the von Eschenbach family was forced to sell Oberhofen and the castle to the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs appointed a succession of vassals to administer the area for them, especially the Kyburgs who also owned Thun Castle. Following the Kyburg defeat in the Burgdorferkrieg of 1383-84 and the decisive Habsburg defeat at the Battle of Sempach in 1386, Bern began to expand into the Austrian lands in the Bernese Oberland. They occupied Oberhofen in 1386 and were finally able to purchase or usurp all the land and rights from every feudal land holder in 1397. In the following year they sold the castle and Oberhofen Herrschaft to Ludwig von Seftigen, a citizen of Bern.

Over the following centuries the town, castle and herrschaft passed through several Bernese patrician families. After the male line of the von Erlach family in Oberhofen died out in 1652, Bern acquired the castle and lands. They created the bailiwick of Oberhofen and converted Oberhofen Castle into the administrative center for the bailiwick. Following the 1798 French invasion, Oberhofen am Thunersee became part of the Helvetic Republic Canton of Oberland. After the collapse of the Republic and 1803 Act of Mediation it joined the newly created Thun District.

The castle passed into private hands after 1803 and had several owners in the following years.

In 1849-52 the Pourtàles family renovated and expanded the castle to its present appearance.

In 1940 the American William Maul Measy established the Oberhofen Castle foundation to administer and maintain the castle. In 1952 it became a part of the Historical Museum of Bern and two years later they opened a branch in the castle.

Clouds started to roll in after the first hour.

Rain held off until I made it back to Sunny Days.

Another day comes to a close. Good night!

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