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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Anyone have the time?

Updated: Sep 2, 2023

Not many cities have managed to retain their historic features quite as successfully as Bern, the capital of Switzerland. The old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and thanks to its 6 kilometers of arcades - the locals refer to them as 'Lauben' - boasts on of the longest weather-sheltered shopping promenades in Europe.

The medieval air of this city with its many fountains, sandstone facades, narrow streets and historic towers is unique. The elevated Rose Garden above the Bear Park and the platform of the 101-meter-high cathedral tower offer the best views of the old town round which the River Aare flows. The former entrenchments and bastions drop down steeply to the river. The boutiques, bars and cabaret stages of the old town, some of which are located in vaulted cellars, and the small street cafes attract locals as well as a lot of tourists. Although Bern has a very good public transportion network, it is best to explore the city center on foot.

The Zytglogge  "time bell" is a landmark medieval tower in Bern, Switzerland. Built in the early 13th century, it has served the city as a guard tower, prison, clock tower center of urban life, and civic memorial.

Despite the many changes and renovations it has undergone in its 800 years of existence, the Zytglogge is one of Bern's most recognizable symbols and the oldest monument of the city, and with its 15th-century astronomical clock, a major tourist attraction. It is a heritage site of national significance, and part of the Old city of Bern, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

When it was built around 1218–1220, the Zytglogge served as the gate tower of Bern's western fortifications. These were erected after the city's first westward expansion following its de facto independence from the Empire. At that time, the Zytglogge was a squat building of only 16 meters (52 ft) in height. When the rapid growth of the city and the further expansion of the fortifications (up to the Käfigturm) relegated the tower to second-line status at around 1270–1275, it was heightened by 7 meters (23 ft) to overlook the surrounding houses.

Only after the city's western defenses were extended again in 1344–1346 up to the now-destroyed Christoffelterm, the Zytglogge was converted to a women's prison, notably housing Pfaffendirnen – "priests' whores", women convicted of sexual relations with clerics. At this time, the Zytglogge also received its first slanted roof.

In the great fire of 1405, the tower burned out completely. It suffered severe structural damage that required thorough repairs, which were not complete until after the last restoration in 1983. The prison cells were abandoned and a clock was first installed above the gate in the early 15th century, probably including a simple astronomical clock and musical mechanism.This clock, together with the great bell cast in 1405, gave the Zytglogge its name, which in Bernese German means "time bell".

In the late 15th century, the Zytglogge and the other Bernese gate towers were extended and decorated after the Burgundian Romantic fashion. The Zytglogge received a new lantern (including the metal bellman visible today), four decorative corner towerlets, heraldic decorations and probably its stair tower. The astronomical clock was extended to its current state. In 1527–30, the clockwork was completely rebuilt by Kaspar Brunner, and the gateway was overarched to provide a secure foundation for the heavy machinery.

The Zytglogge's west façade in 1830 was repainted by Gotthard Ringgli and Kaspar Haldenstein in 1607–1610, who introduced the large clock faces that now dominate the east and west façades of the tower. The corner towerlets were removed again some time before 1603. In 1770–1771, the Zytglogge was renovated by Niklaus Hebler and Ludwig Emanuel Zehnder, who refurbished the structure in order to suit the tastes of the late Baroque, giving the tower its contemporary outline.

As the clock prepares to strike the hour, large groups gather in front of the Clock Tower in Bern’s Old Town to watch the one-of-a-kind performance that always takes place at this moment. The mechanical figures, including a parade of bears, a jester, a golden rooster and Chronos, the god of time, enthrall visitors young and old from far and near.


There are clocks all around the city. The Swiss are punctual people. Their trains run on time, too. You can't use the excuse that you didn't know what time it was.

Maybe you enjoy wearing a watch to tell time. There are so many choices and such a huge range of prices!!!!!!!!!!

How about a pocket watch to tell time?

An old fashioned alarm clock will wake you up at a specific time.

Could this be time slipping away, time melting away, or time getting away from you? It is quite unique!

The bear has long served as symbol of Bern. Legend has it that, in 1191, Duke Berthold V of Zähringen vowed to choose as a namesake the first animal his hunt met in the wood that was to be chopped down for his new city. the BärenPark was opened in 2009, on the steeply sloping land between the Bärengraben and the bank of the River Aare. The original bear pit and the BärenPark were linked by a tunnel, allowing the bears to make use of both spaces. The smaller pit was no longer used by the bears but was used instead to give access to the Bärengraben's shop and to provide a performance space.

There are three bears at the Bären Park and each had their own idea of passing time.

The Bären Park is an addition constructed in 2009. It is situated at the eastern edge of the old town section next to the Nydeggbrücke and the Aare River. The Bären Park is a larger and more natural enclosure alongside the river. The BärenPark was opened in 2009, on the steeply sloping land between the Bärengraben and the bank of the River Aare. The original bear pit and the BärenPark were linked by a tunnel, allowing the bears to make use of both spaces. The smaller pit was no longer used by the bears but was used instead to give access to the Bärengraben's shop and to provide a performance space.[

This is how the bears passed the time this afternoon.

One liked to go up and down the stairs.

The second one thought a swim might be a wonderful idea to pass the time and cool off.

The third thought a nap sounded very good.

People made time to play a game of chess and sit by the water.

When your time is up, will you spend eternity in heaven or hell?

The Berner Münster is the largest late medieval church in Switzerland.

In the Middle Ages, politics and church were closely linked; religious occasions shaped people's lives. For example, political meetings of the townspeople entitled to vote took place in a church.

In the 15th century, Bern was the largest city-state north of the Alps, gaining increasing influence and developing into an important political power. The desire for a suitable place of worship soon became louder. It is therefore not surprising that the city commissioned the construction of the Bern Münster. The first stone for the church was finally laid in 1421.

The place already had a sacred history. More than 200 years ago, there was a small chapel on the same spot, which over time was replaced by a new, larger place of worship – the "Leutkirche". With the Bern Münster, the third house of prayer was built at the same location. The old church was left standing and the münster was built around it in a clockwise direction.

The main goal of late Gothic architecture was to create a building with predetermined dimensions and maximum light penetration. The craftsmen achieved the effect of size and width by connecting the entire interior, using skeleton construction techniques and carefully proportioned windows.

In the 16th century the third stage of the cathedral building came to an end. At that time, however, only a 50 meter high tower towered over the roofs of the lower capital and gave the cathedral a completely different appearance. The construction work had to be stopped due to the unstable subsoil and financial bottlenecks. The tower, which is so striking today, was rebuilt in the Gothic style and reached its final height.

The largest late medieval church in Switzerland was finally completed in 1893. With the exception of the upper part of the tower, the builders mainly used Bernese sandstone. Sandstone from Lower Saxony, which is very weather-resistant, was partly used for the final construction work.

The main portal is an outstanding attraction and a well-known feature of the Münster. Erhart Küng, Westphalian sculptor and master builder, designed the sandstone architectural work on which the Last Judgment is depicted with a total of 294 figures. Sculptures of prophets, angels blowing trumpets, Christ as judge of the world, Justitia (added after the Reformation), martyrs and figures of the damned conveyed to the faithful in a moving way how the living and the dead will be decided on the last day.

The sculptures of the Last Judgment 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. They were all sculpted by Erhard Küng.

The minster, dedicated to St Vincent (originally the parish church, later made collegiate), was planned by Matthäus Ensinger from 1421 to replace a 12th century predecessor. It was largely completed by about 1540 by successive architects, including Vincenz Ensinger and Erhard Küng. The upper part of the tower was finished only in 1889-1893. It is an aisled, Late Gothic basilica with a richly sculpted portal of the Last Judgment by Küng, interior statuary (1517), important stained glass (1441-1460) and choir-stalls (1522), and is the outstanding Late Gothic building in Switzerland.

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 right, while the righteous stand clothed in white on the left.

In the center is Justice, with Saints and the wise and foolish virgins around her. In the center stands Michael the Archangel with a raised sword.

The sculptures of the Last Judgement were the only statues in the Minster to survive the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation. The 47 large free-standing statues are replicas (the originals are in 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. The Justice sculpture is the only one that was done by another artist. It is signed by Daniel Heintz, who was the master builder after 1571. The rest of the statues were carved some time between 1460 and 1501, most likely between 1460 and 1480.

The trumeau to each side and between the doors has thirteen life-size figures. The middle figure and the two figures on each side of the door are raised by about half their height above the other figures. The figures on the left of the door represent the five Foolish Virgins while the ones on he right are the Wise Virgins.

Below the outer two Wise Virgins and the two Foolish Virgins, two faces peer out of the wall on each side. On the wise side, they represent the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon.

On the foolish side, they represent Zephaniah and, maybe, Isaiah. In the center, between the two doors, is Justice flanked by two angels. Below Justice and the angels is a scroll commemorating the laying of the cornerstone in 1421.

The archivolt features three rows of figures. The inner two rows are attached to the wall and lie at an angle which follows the curve of the portal. The outer, third row features statues that stand upright on individual platforms. The inner row contains five angels with the instruments of the Passion. The second row contains eight Old Testament prophets. The outer row is Jesus, Mary and the Apostles, including John the Baptist and Paul, but not Judas Iscariot.

The tympanum is 4.75 m (15.6 ft) wide at the base. It is made up of thirteen individual sections. The bottom row is made up of three plates located about 10 cm (3.9 in) above the lintel. It is 38 cm (15 in) deep and about 50–60 cm (20–24 in) high. On the left side of the tympanum, it contains two rows of figures and on the right, three. The lower figures are nearly fully three-dimensional, while the upper figures are mostly carved in relief, with only the head and shoulders projecting out of the stone. Above these three plates, the remaining ten plates are arraigned in three rows. The bottom row is made up of four plates which rest on a 30–40 cm (12–16 in) high base. The plates are high relief carvings, each about 38 cm (15 in) deep and an average of about 1 m (3.3 ft) high. The figures were all carved with a rock pick. In the center of the tympanum is the Archangel Michael. He stands on his platform which is projected forward from the rest of the figures. The entire tympanum represents Heaven and Hell in the Last Judgment.

People spent time buying produce and flowers at the market.

Of course, you can make time for ice cream, chocolate, and pastry.

The Kindlifresserbrunnen Swiss Gerrman for "Child-Eater Fountain" is a painted stone fountain at the Kornhausplatz (Granary Place). It is one of the old city of Bern's fountains from the 16th century.

It was created in 1545–1546 by Hans Gieng to replace a wooden fountain from the 15th century. The new fountain's original name was Platzbrunnen (Plaza Fountain); the current name was used first in 1666. Kindli is a Swiss German diminutive for the German word Kind, meaning child. A literal translation of the name Kindlifresserbrunnen therefore would be "Fountain of the Eater of Little Children".

The fountain sculpture depicts a seated ogre devouring a naked child. Placed at his side is a bag containing more children.

There are many theories surrounding the fountain but I like the one where a mother says, "The next time you misbehave, the ogre may come and eat you."

What??? Oh, it beach volleyball time! They are playing in front of the Parliament building. Michael and I had a great time watching them play.

Doesn't the band know what time it is? Guess they didn't, as they played from 9:15 pm until 9:45 pm.

Guess it's time to get to bed!

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