It’s my first day in Bern. I had plans. But then..
It’s Sunday here, nothing is open in the Old Town and the streets are quiet. They are headed to The Cathedral of Bern (Berner Münster) but they had to turn off into a hotel for a snack and a final tidy-up because they had come from a distance on the train..
The Cathedral built in Gothic style, begun in 1421 and not completed until 1893 when the bell tower went up with the largest bell in Switzerland. In 1528 during the early days of the Protestant Reformation the council in Bern ordered “all masses should be stopped and all icons should be cast out.” Boo on this whole set of pictures, they should be cast out. Maybe I was rushing to get in? Excuses!
“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 stained glass is quite spectacular and very precious to the city but I couldn’t get any closer because of the service. (I entered late and stayed in the back so I didn’t have to be there for two hours.) Someone told me that during the Reformation the Protestants decided no one was really praying at these windows as one would to icons so it was ok to keep them.
I was heading to this museum, the Kunst Museum Bern, before I got distracted by the singers. This was one of the more splendid museum visits ever for me. I loved the people working there. I wanted to take them home. The museum has done a major historical project detecting the provenance of a huge bequest called “The Gurlitt Collection” that you can read about on their website. All the museum tags are in German and if there is a second language it is French and the provenance is there too which is very interesting. You can often find this information on a museum’s website but I’ve never seen it posted before.
Wandering around the Old Town you will be treated to Clocks and Water Fountains. There’s so much to say about Clocks and Water Fountains in Bern. One thing I heard off the wall was that these fountains began to appear after the Reformation because all the artists of religious iconography had no more work so they turned their talents to these fountains that distribute potable water throughout the Old Town.
I took the tram to the place where you can catch the funicular to go to Gurten, the “mountain” of Bern. Everyone puts “mountain” in air-quotes because it’s basically a hill in a country of real mountains.
Last story: the toilet at the train station. You have to pay 2 franks or 2 euros which is about 2 dollars to use the toilet and when I came out I said “wow, nice, but a lot of money”. There’s a cleaner stationed there who goes into every toilet as someone leaves to clean up and then turns on the Available light. Men and women use the same room of stalls, no difference, just help yourself. But if you want to use only a urinal you can, for 1 frank/eruo/dollar. I’m conflicted that it should cost so much, but then again, it was nice.