Places of Worship Tour of Bern (Self Guided), Bern

Bern has an impressive number of worship places that span a range of architectural styles. Take this tour to visit the churches, cathedrals and synagogues where Bern residents go to pray and express their religious beliefs.
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Places of Worship Tour of Bern Map

Guide Name: Places of Worship Tour of Bern
Guide Location: Switzerland » Bern (See other walking tours in Bern)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: ChristineS
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Nydeggkirche
  • Sankt Peter und Paul Kirche
  • Berner Münster (Cathedral of Bern)
  • St. Ursula's English Church
  • International Church of Berne
  • Heiliggeistkirche
  • Dreifaltigkeits Kirche
  • Synagogue

1) Nydeggkirche (must see)

The Reformed Nydeggkirche (from the Bernese German expression for "Lower corner") is located on the eastern edge of the Old City of Bern, in the Nydegg section. It sits on the grounds where Duke Berchthold of Zahringen founded the city of Bern in 1191. Legend states that Berchtold would name the city after the first animal he killed during a hunting expedition, hence the name Bern, or Bear in German.

The original castle was destroyed in the mid-13th century and replaced by the Nydegg church. After the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and the Thirty Years War (1614-1648), many of the churches within Bern became Protestant congregations. When this happened, many of the ornate chapels within churches and cathedrals were removed.

The Nydegg Church is not ornately decorated; however, the outer doors along the Nydegg bridge are very beautiful with depictions of Bible passages. This is a great place to start your tours of the UNESCO World Heritage Site called Old Town Bern.

From the banks of the river, you can take a photo of the Nydegg Church and the Nydegg Bridge.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Sankt Peter und Paul Kirche

2) Sankt Peter und Paul Kirche

The Church of St. Peter and Paul is a reformist Catholic church, which was built from 1858-1864. Although the building looks small from the outside, the interior is large. The church decor is modernist, so there is no unnecessary decoration, and the walls remain blank. However, be sure to notice the exquisite corner arches inside.
Berner Münster (Cathedral of Bern)

3) Berner Münster (Cathedral of Bern) (must see)

The Münster of Bern is a Swiss Reformed cathedral (or minster) located in the Old City of Bern. Built in the Gothic style, its construction started in 1421 although its tower, with a height of 100.6 m (330 ft), was only completed in 1893. It is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland and is a Cultural Property of National Significance.

The Münster was built by the city of Bern as a symbol of the growing power of this city-state. The interior was therefore designed to awe the citizens as well as foreign visitors. The central nave was built in a lacy gothic style with enormous stained glass windows and numerous altars in side chapels. The Gothic style allowed a taller central nave and larger windows than had been possible before, creating an impressive and (for the time) light and airy structure.

The most beautiful aspect of the Münster is the main portal. 47 large free-standing statues and 170 smaller figures depict the Last Judgement where the righteous are separated from the wicked. This is perhaps the best depiction of the Last Judgement in all of Europe. Interestingly enough, the sculptures of the Last Judgement were the only statues in the Minster to survive the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation.

If you are so inclined on a beautiful day, climb the steeple. There is a charge for access but if the weather is nice, you get a very nice view of Bern and the Alps. Be cautious of your time as you can be right next to the ten-ton bell (the largest in the whole of Switzerland) when it rings at 6pm. While it is possible to stand near the bells when they are rung, it is necessary to cover ears to prevent hearing damage.

Opening Hours:
[Church] Mon-Sat: 10am-5pm (Apr 10-Oct 20); Sun: 11:30am-5pm (Apr 26-Oct 22) // Mon-Fri: 12-4pm (Oct 21-Apr 9); Sun: 11:30am-4pm (Oct 23-Apr 25)
[Steeple] Mon-Sat: 10am-4:30pm (Apr 10-Oct 20); Sun: 11:30am-4:30pm (Apr 26-Oct 22) // Mon-Fri: 12-3:30pm (Oct 21-Apr 9); Sun: 11:30am-3:30pm (Oct 23-Apr 25)
Sight description based on wikipedia
St. Ursula's English Church

4) St. Ursula's English Church

St. Ursula's English Church is an ecumenical church in Bern. The services are held in English, but the church also provides programs for people of different cultural backgrounds and religions. Every Sunday this church is visited by more than 100 worshipers.
International Church of Berne

5) International Church of Berne

The International Church of Bern is located in the center of Bern and serves the English-speaking community. Even though the church holds services in English, everyone is welcome. Sunday service starts at 10:30 am.

6) Heiliggeistkirche (must see)

Located in the Old City of Bern, Heiliggeistkirche (or Church of the Holy Ghost) is a Swiss heritage site of national significance and one of the largest Swiss Reformed churches in the country. The first church on the site was a small structure built around 1228 which was replaced by a second church in 1496. The second church was demolished in 1726 to make way for the building you see today. During the 1726 construction, Roman religious objects were discovered under the foundation. From this find, it appears likely that the church sits on the site of an old Roman temple.

The first organ in the new church was installed in 1804 and was replaced in 1933 by the second organ. The church has six bells – one of the two largest was cast in 1596 and the other in 1728. The interior is supported by 14 monolithic columns made of sandstone and has a free-standing pulpit in the northern part of the nave. Especially notable are the old choir stalls, saved from the earlier church. Much like the St. Pierre Cathedral in Geneva, the Church of the Holy Ghost holds about 2,000 people and is one of the largest Protestant churches in Switzerland.

Why You Should Visit:
Without a doubt one of the prettiest churches (if not the prettiest) of the late Baroque period in Bern.

There are organ concerts every Friday at noon, very nice to enjoy and relax. Free entry!
Sight description based on wikipedia
Dreifaltigkeits Kirche

7) Dreifaltigkeits Kirche

Dreifaltigkeits Kirche is a Roman Catholic basilica and is notable for its location and architecture. The building’s architectural style incorporates elements of Roman design. Notice the influence of Roman art on the religious paintings displayed inside the basilica.

8) Synagogue

The Synagogue was built by a Jewish Community organization founded in 1848, which today has more than 340 members. Services are held here every Friday and Saturday. There are also special programs for children and young people from age 7 to 16. Visitors are always welcome.

Walking Tours in Bern, Switzerland

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Bern is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles
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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles

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