Monday, September 5, 2011

Brienz, my Mecca - Impressions #22

Brienz was my Mecca. I've been wanting to come back here for so many years. I stayed at a Bed & Breakfast run by a friendly, elderly lady who spoke no English. We had interesting conversations at breakfast, finding common words between Swiss German and English. The photo above is the view out my bedroom window.

Two nights later an impressive thunderstorm passed through and in the morning I woke up to the picture below, fresh snow on the mountain tops in August.

The view from the train station, looking East across the lake in the direction of Meiringen (I'll write all about the waterfall near Meiringen in a later post), which lies far up the distant valley. The rounded spur just at the edge of the lake is Ballenberg, the "open air museum" which I'll write about later too.

This building is right on the main street that runs parallel to the lake shore. Brienz, though just a village, has been an important stopping point for hundreds of years, travelers going from north to south across the Alps. A few of those notable travelers stayed at this perfect example of the local architecture.

Some more of the venerable old mountain chalets... These are all built of a type of log cabin construction, with the logs squared off into blocks about 4" x 8". Log ends are carved in all kinds of decorative designs, especially where they project to support the overhanging roof. Ground floors were often built of stone to raise the logs up from the damp.

Even the new homes are built in the same manner, though not always as beautifully as this example. Behind all those small shingles you'll find the same log system. The shingles are also part of the old traditions, creating a system whereby they protect the logs and are easily replaceable as they succumb to the weather.

The main Catholic church in town, has its roots in the 11th century, but most of what exists now was built between the 15-17th centuries.

The view back towards the village from the church.

Inside the church ... Brienz has been famous for many hundreds of years for its decorative wood carving artists. They work in Linden wood, which is sustainably grown on the nearby mountain slopes.

A carved wood detail on the organ case.

The rail of the choir loft.

These beautiful old houses have exquisite details. They are always integrated into the fabric and structure of the buildings, a natural result of building in heavy timber. The work was all done by hand and expresses, even centuries later, the imaginative, creative impulses of the people who left these treasures to us.

The deity is in the details.

The evening before the thunderstorm, looking across the lake towards the west. Interlaken is in the distant mist.

1 comment:

  1. I was also struck with the wood carving you see everywhere. Switzerland is so calm, lovely and civilized.