top of page


Adorable Chick

SWITZERLAND Diary : Day 7 - 11th April 2014

Bern or Berne, the capital city of Switzerland, lies on either side of the 'C' shaped Aare river, that curves itself through the city. The part of the city, lying engulfed by the river, (on the inner side) is the Old town (Alstadt) and the one lying on the outer side is the New city. Bern Alstadt boasts of rich medieval architecture and umpteen fountains. The city's origin is traced back to the 12th Century. It has been labelled as a HERITAGE SITE by UNESCO. Surprisingly, German is the main language here. The city is named after BEARS ( " BAREN" translates to "Bears" in German). As such, the BEAR PIT here, attracts tourists all over the world. The world famous TOBLERONE chocolates & OVALTINE (Ovamaltine) were born here.

Bern was included in our itinerary as a half day tour from Interlaken. The Swiss pass comfortably got us from Interlaken to the capital city, in just under an hour. We had decided tour the city by foot. The place was alive, up & running. We were in the city, mainly to witness the theatrical performance of the Bell works of its renowned Clock Tower. However, we needed to get to the spot only by 12 pm. We therefore spent our time marvelling at the architecture, layout & other parts of the city.

By around 11:45 am we gathered around the eastern side of the tower. We were amazed by the crowd already waiting there in anticipation. The 'ZYTGLOGGE', as it is called, is an antiquated Clock Tower and a multipurpose structure built in the early 13th Century. Over the 800 years of its existence, it has not only served as a clock tower, prison, a gate , a memorial and a guard tower but has also undergone tons of renovations. It is not a very tall tower. This greyish-stoned, vertical cuboid is constructed with its one side stuck to a building, with a passage running under it and a brown, curving, slanted roof peaking towards its summit, where a bell lies installed. Today, it adorns the new streets of the city serving as a landmark & a passage. One is also allowed to take a guided tour of its inside.

Tidy Desk

There are two clocks ingrained in its eastern side. The one on top has a greyish dial, decorated in golden. The one with a reddish dial, installed below this, is the astronomical clock. The Bell works beside the astronomical clock, were sheer pieces of art. It consisted of colourfully sculpted parade of bears, a golden rooster, a tiger & jester, placed inside a dark Grey, carved arch. These mechanical figures, display their performance, at the strike 12 each day. We were fortunate to witness the rooster flapping its wings, the bears parading with their weapons while moving in a circle below the jester, the rotation of a pellet drum in the right hand of the jester along with a spear in his left & movement of the tiger's head. I have managed to capture a video and place it in the gallery here. The western facade of the tower has a single, wall painted clock, with 'golden' hands keeping time.

We were impressed with the surrounding arrangement of the old town. The street running from the tower's eastern side, was flanked by yellowish buildings on its either borders, built close to each other, slightly sloping downhill. Fountains adorned the streets at regular intervals, The sculptures fixed to the summit of these fountains are medieval pieces of art and are well maintained to date.

Down this street, somewhere on the right hand side, is the erstwhile house of Albert Einstein referred to as the "EINSTEINHAUS". The house, now turned to a museum, is opened to visitors throughout the year. It is the first house where Einstein began to earn his living & had his first child from his first marriage. We reached the house, on the first floor, through a narrow stairs leading to it. The entry to the museum was free. This ordinary abode of Einstein displayed photographs, possessions, various scripts, certificates, reminiscing his entire childhood, youth & middle age. It was highly informative.  A record of his entire life is maintained here, including his divorce. We were fascinated by the maintenance of few furniture, clothes used by the couple & a crib of their baby.  

It was interesting to know how he led a normal life in this wonderful city, before he grew famous. However, his unhappy, personal life was a rather shocking revalation . The fame & glamour portrayed in lives of famous personalities often out shadow their life's tough journey. We were back on the streets soon. The children were treated to ice-cream in a shop below the EINSTEINHAUS. We walked within the vicinity, starting from the eastern side of tower. The Zahringerbrunnen & Simsonbrunnen (fountains) lie at 180 degrees from the Tower, towards Einsteinhaus. We came across many such fountains installed along the streets at regular intervals, each named diffrently. Sadly, none of the fountains were functional at our time of visit.