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Erlacher Hof, Bern. Official seat of the mayor of the city of Bern and his administration. Summer 2014


It is difficult to illustrate a city like Bern with photos, especially when the Editor has lived there for many years, knowing the city very well. It would take an awful lot of time and photos to gather a representative collection in order to chose a proper collection. In the post at hand, the editor has chosen a few images from a former natives stroll through the city.

One of the more peculiar objects was (-and is) the Meret Oppenheim Fountain. It was inaugurated in 1983 as a symbol of growth and life. It consists of a high concrete pillar from where water is flowing spirally down.The tinny gullies where initially bare, but they have now moss, plants and grasses growing, and in winter they form long icicles. Meret Oppenheim wanted it that way. Contrary to many perceptions, it is not an exhaust pipe of the underlying Parkings but a different kind of fountain.

When the Fountain was first revealed to the public, the common reactions of the fountain was that it was purely a cold piece of concrete, without any artistic or architectural vision whatsoever. And especially not a work from an renown artist like Meret Oppenheim herself. Today, after all these years, it is easier to spot what her intentions with the fountain must have been. Only 30 years after. Not everybody can get uset to this pillar full of overgrowing weeds, moss, marsh plants and important lime deposits at a prominent location in the Swiss Capital. It has always generated lots of fierce discussions, especially in the press but also in other media . The Editor thinks -and has always thought, that it is a beautiful piece of Art, having a bit of every aspect a city must have: Growth, life, age, death, ugliness and beauty. Today, the work is closely connected with the City.  A sign on how fast time passes, not always degenerating but improving. That must be visionary.

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Bern is not only known for the Meret Oppenheim-Fountain, but also for its numerous historical fountains. Here 2 examples: The Fountain of Justice and the Child Eater Fountain:

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But there can be played with water literally everywhere, even in front of the Federal Parliament Building:

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The largest part of the historic district of Bern, is surrounded by the river Aare:

Bern from above

Bern from above


Bern sits on a hill surrounded by a u-bending river. From behind the parliament building, you can see both the Alps in the distance and the Aare River downhill the city. The most popular place to jump into the river is the  “Marzili”, an open space bath at the foot of parliament hill. A free, public bathing space with open-air pools and sunbathing lawns. This is one of the oldest public baths in Switzerland and one of the few that is free. If you live in Zürich or Luzern, you have to pay to access the lakeside baths; in Bern it’s free. And very popular. Towels cover almost every blade of grass and clothes sit in neat little piles while their owners all go off for a cooling swim. Cooling being the operative word.

It’s refreshing to say the least, as the water temperature usually hovers around the 20 degree mark. In the hottest summer ever (2003), it managed a balmy 23. It was like swimming in a warm bath, comparatively speaking. But it’s not just cooling off that’s the attraction; it’s going with the flow. The river is rather fast, so that you don’t even have to swim, just float and be carried along. A liquid travelator. To make the most of riding the river, most people walk upstream along the riverside path for at least fifteen minutes or so, then get in and float back down to Marzili.

Getting in is the easy part, once you get over the initial shock, with steps and rails to help the nervous. Getting out is trickier. You have to swim across the flow to head for the bank, grab a railing, swing round and up onto the nearest step. A bit of practice and it’s a doddle. Just be sure to take notice of the ‘Last exit’ signs. It may seem weird but they’re totally necessary. Round the bend, there’s a weir and you really don’t want to be swimming into that. Instead you can get out, walk across the spit of land, and jump back in, carrying on past the cathedral and under the city bridges. A sightseeing tour like no other. It is a fast-moving swimming pool. So if you’re going some day: Remember to pack your swimming things.

The Aare River

When the following photos were shot, it had been raining continuously for almost two weeks. As a consequence, there was imminent danger of flooding in the neighborhoods on the river’s level. The river flows already rather fast but after several weeks of almost continuous rainfall. perilously much water ran down the river, endangering residences and businesses at the river level:

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Here, the scenery from above:

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Walking the streets of historic Bern is and has always been a t hrill. For natives as well as for tourists. It is far from museum-like but an integrated part of city life. Bern is not a metropolis, and it is relatively easy to get around with no car and no metro. If you need to go a bit further, there is always a bus or a tram nearby. Shopping is a genuine pleasure in Bern, because the city has Europe’s longest shopping promenade (Lauben“). The shops are inside historic buildings which makes the shopping a true aesthetic pleasure. A significant side benefit is that everybody is protected from rain and wind!

Strolling around the CIty

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It is no danger to come to the rather secluded alleys and lanes where there aren’t any colorful shops or noisy streets. Here you can walk without being disturbed by cars and trucks, buses and trams. Here it is very popular to own a home because it is so close to everything in town and of course because it is so beautiful and so quiet. Just as native know of the small cafes and restaurants in the side streets!

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Münster and Erlacher Hof

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One of the most beautiful buildings in Bern is definitely the Erlacher Hof. Today it is the official seat of the mayor of the City of Bern and his/-her Administration and of course the Bern Minster:

(Click the Photos to see them enlarged..)

© 2014 – Oliver Haas-Jensen, All Rights Reserved


Swiss expat, living in the green middle of Denmark since 1992. Family man, amateur photographer and editor of this site. I publish my photographic work from exploring my surroundings, travels and events i attend to in order to share it with the visitors of this site. Welcome to Olivers Film Roll.

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