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ABOVE: The Place des Halles or Market
Square. INSET BELOW: A sailboat on Lake Neuchâtel.
Sightseeing in Neuchâtel
When you arrive in Neuchâtel, go to
the local tourist office (see this articles'
Tourist Information page) and
get a copy of Neuchâtel à pied - zu Fuss - on foot. The illustrated
brochure has a map of the town center with 19 numbers that are keyed to a
walking tour of the city center and its lakeside promenade. Some of the more
important sights include:
The Hôtel de Ville, or
City Hall, which was built from 1784-1790. Go inside to visit the exhibits
on the ground floor, most notably the model of the 18th Century town and its
The Fontaine de la Justice
(1545-1547), the Fontaine du Banneret (1581), and the Fontaine du
Griffon (1664), which have been restored to their original glory.
The Place des Halles or
Market Square (see photo at top of page), which is surrounded by 18th
Century houses and has a public market on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
The Passage des Corbets,
a typical Neuchâtel enclosed courtyard with a spiral staircase not far from
the Place des Halles.
The Château, or Castle,
which was begun in the 12th Century. (Free guided tours are available from
April through September.)
The Collégiale or
Collegiate Church, which was consecrated in 1276. The church, which has been
protestant since the Reformation, has a remarkable cenotaph from 1372 that
portrays the the Counts of Neuchâtel in 15 carved and painted statues.
The medieval Tour des
Prisons, or Prison Tower, which is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. between
April 1 and September 30.
You can cover most of the old town
in several hours, but a full day will give you time to enjoy Neuchâtel without
rushing, to have a pleasant lunch, and to visit some of the
local museums, which are described on our Neuchâtel
Tourist Information page.
Wear comfortable shoes
when exploring Neuchâtel. Parts of the old town are hilly, with staircases leading
up to the Castle and the Collegiate Church.
A rubber-tired Tourist Train
operates from June to September, with departures from the Place du Port near
the steamboat landing.
If you're a fan of public
transportation, try the new
funicular from the railroad station to the lake. Better yet, take time
to ride the Funicular Ecluse.
This 1890-vintage funicular runs from the Rue de l'Ecluse to the Cret du
Plan at 598 meters or 1962 feet above sea level, where you can enjoy views of the lake and
and Morat Navigation Company operates
excursion boats from spring through fall, with local cruises and longer trips to
the nearby Murtensee and Bielersee. (You can travel free with a Swiss Pass or
Swiss Boat Pass.)
You can also tour villages along
the lake by car, bicycle, or walking path. For example, you could rent a bike at
the Neuchâtel railroad station, ride along the lakeshore, and return by boat
later in the day. For excursion ideas, visit the Watch
Valley Web site or inquire at the tourist office when you arrive.
Top photo copyright © Tourisme
Neuchâtel and SNTO, www.swiss-image.ch.
Inset photo copyright © Tourisme Neuchâtel.