ABOVE: Statues from the tympanum above the main door of the
Münster in Bern.
Just as Rome wasn't
built in a day, Europe's great churches weren't constructed overnight. The
Münster of St. Vincent in Bern is a good example: it was begun in 1421, but the
main body of the church wasn't finished until 1573 and the tower was added more
than three centuries later (in 1893, to be precise). During the time of its
construction, the Reformation took place and what began as a Catholic cathedral
ended up as a Protestant minster or collegiate church.
The Münster is well worth a visit for several reasons:
- It's blessed with some of the finest stone and wood carvings that you'll
see in Switzerland, including the 234 statues of The Last Judgment
above the main portal (see detail above).
- Its bell tower, the highest in Switzerland, offers a panorama of Bern to
tourists who have the stamina to climb the steps leading to the two viewing
platforms: one at 46 meters (150 feet) and the other at 64 meters (210 feet).
- The chancel's stained-glass windows date back to the 15th Century and are
lovely to behold, especially on a sunny day.
How to reach the Münster
The Münster is on the Münsterplatz in Bern's medieval center. From the
railroad station, head toward the arcaded streets of central Bern and keep your
While you're at the Münster, take a few minutes to enjoy the view of the
River Aare from the platform in front of the church.
Related Web link:
The cathedral's English-language Web site has information on topics such as
visiting hours, tours, the church's architecture, organs, and even how to
arrange a private happy hour in the cathedral tower. You can also download
information sheets as printable PDF files.
"Best of the Web"
Forbes and The Washington Post
Traveling by train?
Get free schedules, maps, and guides for 50+ European railroads.
(Residents of North and Central America can buy tickets and rail passes