Sunday, 4 July 2010

Four Walls

Berner Münster: Outside.

In our visits to Switzerland and Bern before we actually moved here, Dan and I had never actually wandered over to the Berner Münster.  All of our time was spent in the mountains hiking, and the few casual days we spent wandering the streets of Bern, well I wasn't into the 'cultural' tour because I was too busy pillaging H&M. 

The bell tower was always visible, taunting me with its history while I shopped until the only thing left in my wallet was lint and postage stamps.

Whatever Berner Münster! If you knew how pitiful the shopping situation is at home, you'd understand why I can't find time to delight in your statuesque beauty.  Look at all these scarves!  And trendy jackets! And cheap accessories! I'll stop by and say hello some other day.

My first week here, after Dan returned to work, I decided to get out and explore Bern's cobblestoned streets. And as I poked my way along, I unknowingly followed a street that ran right directly into the courtyard of the Berner Münster.

Jaw hit ground.

Lingering around, I stood at the edge of a tour where a British guide said that construction began in 1421 and was completed in 1575.  But the actual bell tower didn't complete until 1893.

I took a really long time to be built.

Most of the church is built with sandstone, but  15th and 16th century 'master builders' and stone masons didn't consider modern pollution when deciding on their construction material of choice. Today's vehicle emissions and other pollutants are eating away at the sandstone; as a result, sections of the church are always undergoing preservation.

Since the first day I 'stumbled' across this Gothic beast, I have returned again, and again, and again. I absolutely love this building, and I'm overwhelmed at its size and what brute strength can build.

Guys, they designed this building without a computer!  There were no 3D digital renderings of the finished product! 

When I took art history in university, I always thought Gothic monuments were overly aggressive and frightening and I preferred the softness of the Renaissance style.

Then I spent the longest day of my life in the Uffizi Gallery, and decided: "Eh, you've seen one Renaissance painting, you've seen them all."

I like the fire and brimstone, you better be scared out of your mind and feel tiny and small you unimportant human, vibe those early Goths had going on. 

What does this say about my psyche?  Let's not delve into that.  Instead, let's just say I really dig the spired edginess of the Berner Münster. 
Four Walls:

Just imagine how long it took to cut the all the blocks by hand.
Mind blowing, isn't it?

Look at the lacey detail at the top by the window.

And these spires! Gah! I love them.  How long did it take to shape them?

Can you spot the flying buttresses?

"Flying Buttress" is the only Official Art Term I remember from art history.
If you can't guess why, well you're more mature than I am.

A small shot of the gardens where I hang out from time to time.

Courtyard in front of the church.

It's all in the details:

The following are pictures of The Last Judgment (which is the HUGE sculpture above the main door) and a few other statues found by the front door.

The Last Judgment

Good vs Evil: an age old feud.




It was only after staring at The Last Judgment for probably the fifth time, that I realized the 'good' side were all wearing clothes, and the 'evil' side were all starkers.  Choose the 'good' side if you like wearing clothes.  If you're a nudist, do whatever you want.

Lady Justice and her angels



And gentlemen

Pictures of a few crazy gargoyles, just for fun.
I feel sick!

So sick!

I'm the creepiest dog you'll ever see in your life!  Nice to meet you! Woof!

I hate mermaids!

A Lot!

So that is a small (so small) sampling of the four walls and intricate details of Berner Münster's exterior. 

Up next: what it looks like inside.


T said...

WOW, I love gothic architecture too! This was such an interesting read Caitie. I will have to add the Burner Münster to my list of things to see while I'm there. I'm so jealous that you get to go visit it whenever you want!

Ais said...

Really Cool! I love Gothic architecture. I wonder if they really did everything 'by hand' or if they had some sort of machinery. Obviously not like our machinery today, but something. That dog gargoyle looks like it just projectile vomited all over the place haha!

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Caitie , thanks for calling over to my blog and leaving a comment .. Oh I bet it was very surreal at the Notre Dame, when setting up for the French Air disaster .. maybe a bit eerie too.

Well what can I say about your photos, absolutely wonderful ...Berner Munster is fabulous and just look at he architecture gone into the spires and the carving or whatever on the Good versus the Evil... Such a brilliant place to visit.

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