Berner Munster - Bern, Switzerland
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member manchanegra
N 46° 56.840 E 007° 27.050
32T E 382108 N 5200475
The Münster of Berne (German: Berner Münster) is the Gothic cathedral in the old city of Berne, Switzerland.
Waymark Code: WMDXWQ
Location: Bern, Switzerland
Date Posted: 03/08/2012
Published By:Groundspeak Premium Member fi67
Views: 20

The Münster of Berne (German: Berner Münster) is the Gothic cathedral (or minster) in the old city of Berne, Switzerland. Construction started in 1421. Its tower, with a height of 100 m (328 ft), was only completed in 1893. It is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland and is a Cultural Property of National Significance.

The first church on this site probably was a small chapel built during the founding of Berne (1191). During the 13th Century a larger three nave church with a tower on the north side was built. By the 15th Century, Bern had expanded and become a major city-state north of the Alps. To celebrate their growing power and wealth, plans were made to build a new and larger church. On March 11, 1421 construction began on the cathedral under the direction of the Strasbourg master builder Matthäus Ensinger, who had already built three other cathedrals. During construction, services were held in the old chapel while the new cathedral was built up around it. During the 1440's the unvaulted choir was used for services after a simple roof was built and stained glass windows were installed. After the Old Zürich War 1440-1446 the nave of the old chapel was removed and work began on the nave and west end, under the chief masons Stefan Hurder and then Niklaus Birenvogt. In 1483 Erhard Küng (who carved the statues of the Last Judgement) became the master mason. Under his direction the nave walls were raised and the tower was built to the lower octagon. Following Küng's death in 1506, Peter Pfister lead the construction and finished the vaulting in the choir. In 1571 Daniel Heintz was brought in as master mason to finish vaulting the nave and finish the work. The central nave was finished by 1575 and at this point, construction stopped for almost three centuries. The bell tower, with the largest bell in Switzerland, wasn't completed until 1893. During the centuries of construction, Berne became Protestant and the Münster also became Protestant.

Over the main portal is one of the most complete Late Gothic sculpture collections in Europe. This collection represents the Christian belief in a Last Judgment where the wicked will be separated from the righteous. This sculpture shows the wicked naked on the left, while the righteous stand clothed in white on the right. In the center is Justice, with Saints and the wise and foolish virgins around her. In the center stands Micheal the Archangel with a raised sword.

The Last Judgment
The sculptures of the Last Judgement were the only statues in the Münster to survive the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation. The 47 large free-standing statues are replicas (the originals are in the Berne History Museum), and the 170 smaller figures are all original. The Last Judgement was the work of one sculptor, Erhard Küng from Stadtlohn, Westphalia, which gives the collection a unity of design.

The Münster was built by the city of Bern as a symbol of the growing power of this city-state. [2] 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.

Many altars were financed by local families, creating a wealth of art and sculpture in the cathedral. However, in 1528 all 43 side altars were removed during the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation. Nearly all the interior paintings and decorations were removed and dumped in the neighboring Münsterplattform. The empty chapels were filled with extra pews, creating three naves. Since that time, the interior of the cathedral has remained relatively empty and austere.

The stained glass windows of the cathedral are the most valuable in Switzerland. The windows date from 1441-1450. The right hand windows were damaged during a hailstorm in 1520 and replaced in 1868. Many of the windows include both heraldic symbols and religious images placed side by side. The most interesting window is the "Dance of Death" window located at the top of the right side nave. The first Dance of Death images originated during the Black Death of the 1340s and remained popular during the 14th and 15th Century. The stained glass window in the Cathedral is an excellent example of this theme. The window shows death, in the form of a skeleton, claiming people from every station in life. The Dance of Death served to remind the viewer that death will happen to everyone regardless of station or wealth.

Choir and Organ
The Choir, in the eastern side of the Cathedral between the nave and the sanctuary, houses the first Renaissance Choir Stalls in Switzerland. The carving include both animals and images of daily life.

The first Organ in the Cathedral was built nearly 200 years after construction was completed. The current organ was built in 1930 and restored in 1998-1999. The organ is currently used for a series of concerts throughout the year.

Bell Tower
The tower is open to the public, for a small fee. The lower viewing platform requires a climb up 254 steps and provides a view over Bern and perhaps as far as the Alps. The upper spire is also accessible by climbing an additional 90 steps from the lower platform.

The largest bell in the tower is a 10.5 ton bell which was cast in 1611. It is the largest bell in Switzerland. Everyday at noon and 6 p.m., the bells in the tower are rung. It is possible to stand near the bells when they are rung, but one has to cover their ears to insure no hearing damage.

From Wikipedia
Country/Land: Switzerland / Schweiz

Original Reference: Bern A-Objekte, Seite 7 (107)

Berne Munster Munsterplatz 1 Ch-3000 Berne Switzerland

Year built: 1421

URL reference: [Web Link]

Additional URL: [Web Link]

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