Once the 2-3 hour trip has been made from Lucerne to Thun (a history-rich town not far from Berne—the Aare River connects the two municipalities, but it’s the Swiss capital that regulates the water level), a visit to the skyline dominating Castle of Thun (for once, it’s beautiful Stadtkirche that has to play second fiddle in the architectural orchestration) is a must. (Cross-reference below for the train-travel options: the “long” way via Interlaken is highly recommended.)
Included in the Swiss Pass/FlexiPass (along with hundreds of other museums) or for a modest entry fee, the twelfth-century house of power and—since 1888—its enclosed museum have countless stories to tell (or imagine: don’t miss the blood-stained pikes and spears) and artifacts to view.
First stop is the Knight’s Hall (originally built between 1190 and 1200). Its dramatically soaring ceiling features 26 massive, blood-stained (oxen, one is told —) beams and numerous windows to admire the magnificent scenery and cityscape. As time passed, the ochre-walled, pillar-free hall served as a torture chamber (some leg irons are still present one floor above for those who might want to have a fitting) and granary before being acquired by the Museum in 1951. The Castle’s past owners had no qualms about murdering their kinfolk—Eberhard of Kyburg despatched brother Hartmann in 1322: so Shakespearean, methinks—before the City of Berne took over in 1384, buying the mammoth digs and converting the former fortress into a palatial residence for its mayors and governors. JWR