The charming town of Thun is beautifully located on the northern shores of its lake, in the middle of Switzerland. Only 30 km away from Bern, the Swiss capital, Thun can be seen as the gate to the Bernese Oberland, i.e. the Bernese Highlands. This mountainous region south of Bern also known as the Bernese Alps, counts the famous Jungfrau and Eiger peaks, as well as several picturesque villages such as Saanen and Gstaad.
The city is located right at the end of Lake Thun (Thunersee in German), from where the alpine Aare river flows out of the lake and continues towards Bern. Since the 19th Century and the opening of the railway station, Thun has been a popular tourist spot. Besides its lovely historical centre, Thun is also a place for business and it hosts the oldest and largest garrison in Switzerland.
Thun takes its name after the Celtic word Dunum, which means “fortified town”. Evidence of this first settlement dates back to the Neolithic period, 2,500 BCE. Several historical monuments from different periods are scattered around the old town. The first landmark, in the neighborhood of the railway station, is the 1726 wooden-covered bridge which also serves as a river lock (Obere Schleuse). The bridge connects the town to a small island (Bälliz) in the centre of the Aare. The central street of the island is today a shopping area. Opposite to the old bridge, another wooden-covered bridge on the Aare (Untere Schleuse) leads to Thun’s historical centre.
Another great landmark is Thun’s medieval castle. The most visible historical building in the town was built by the Dukes of Zähringen at the end of the 12th Century. It was not fortified but was an administrative castle on a hill right above the lake. The monument was extended during the 15th Century. Thun’s castle hosts today a museum on the rich history of the region. Downhill, Rathausplatz is a lovely place with the early 16th century City Hall (Rathaus in German) and other old buildings.
Thun is a lovely town that can be discovered on foot. It has preserved some of the medieval narrow streets which give the city a picturesque character. To make the most of your experience in Thun, head over to Schadau park with its panoramic view of the city. Walking along the Aare, especially on a clear day, is also a great way to enjoy your time in Thun. With the blue waters of the river and lake, and the snow-covered Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch peaks in the background, Thun offers unforgettable scenery.
Cover photo © credits to Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe
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