Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Lovely Swiss cities: Thun

A quick visit in July 2006


You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

The Bridge over the Aare, where the Lake of Thun (pronounced "Toon"), or Thunersee, dumps out towards Berne 20km to the north. We've been hiking all about in the Bernese Oberland, and now we'd like to see some historical towns.

The wooden bridge (the Alte Holzbrücke)

Crossing the bridge over the Aare, looking for historical towns in the vicinity

Street scenes

Astonishing scenery in a small city of only 42,000 inhabitants, and only 5,000 years old. Thun was a Neolithic site -- say no more, there's a couple of extra thousand years, right there -- and resurfaced as a Celtic "fortified city" or "dunum" ("Thunum", get it?) well before any of us were even born, including me. The Romans rumsfelded their way in in 58 BC and it became one of the main centres of Roman administration throughout the region. Until the Burgundians sent the Romans packing in about 400 A.D., and we all hope that Pres. Bush will take that as a lesson.

The ancient riverside, all tastefully done up by Swiss commercial interests, is fascinating. But, up there on the hill above, a castle and a cathedral. That's really what we've come for!

Kristin sprints up to see the castle.

Built in 1190 by the Zähringens of Berne to subdue the region to the will of the Holy Roman Empire, the castle has still got the scaffolding all over it. Even Halliburton or Bechtel could have finished the job by now, given some cost overruns.

Security measures in the Age of Bush: "Don't shoot! I'll take off my shoes!"

-- Lieutenant, capture that castle as quickly as you can, and let me know when you've got it done. I'll be in the gym.

Downtown Thun is a little like Shawnee, Oklahoma, but of course there are some differences.
(That's the famous Rathaus Platz below.)

It's just that Shawnee, Oklahoma, hasn't got a river through the middle of it, and it hasn't really got a Rathaus Platz either.

Oh, the other thing is that Shawnee's nearest mountains are, maybe, 800 kilometres away.

Swiss castles that are no longer needed to keep off the Burgundians frequently end up as wonderful museums, and so did this one. The man and woman in the background, performing traditional work, are exhibits. The woman in green on the left, performing no work at all, is not part of the exhibit (that's Kristin). The cat in the centre is either part or not part of the exhibit (unless, like Schrödinger's Cat, it's both), but if part, it's convincing.

The people in exhibits of 19th century life in Switzerland frequently seem so much more contented than we are today, happier in what they're doing. Though they were probably not far off from starvation. But they didn't have television and could just get on with things on their own. For a while, and then they died early of easily treatable diseases.

Watches and jewellry at half price. Not a bad deal. But who set the prices in the first place?

Bar-disco in a 15th century building. Party on.

Back to the river

The good ship "Blümisalp" leaving Thun docks on its way up the Lake of Thun to Interlaken. (Hopefully treading lightly, as it has recently emerged that the Lake of Thun is filled with discarded munitions from the World War Two era, dumped over the pier as a cost-cutting measure common to military authorities everywhere.)

What a lovely way to spend the day.

Blümisalp is a big peak (3664m) that dominates the horizon from Thun. We walked up to the Blümisalp hut near there a few years ago.

Tourists off to Interlaken. Ciao for now. We're back to work tomorrow.

PS: Thun got put onto the Swiss telephone net in 1888.


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 3 September 2006, revised 29 July 2007, 1 September 2014.


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