email
The Silk Route - World Travel: Zofingen, Switzerland
americas asia pacific africa middle east europe

Switzerland: Zofingen, Emmental & Gruyères
Most recent: 2016

Zofingen Emmental Hornussen Gruyères
traditional Emmental farmhouse

 

Beautiful painted buildings and traditional farmhouses, the bizarre Swiss sport of Hornussen, and two classic Swiss cheese destinations.

Zofingen

Medieval Zofingen
A fresco depicts the medieval town of Zofingen.

From Basel where we live it is a nice day out to drive south east to the lovely town of Zofingen in the canton of Aargau, easily reached in time for morning coffee and a leisurely look around.

Zofingen
Zofingen

 

Zofingen

The old town of Zofingen is a jumble of architectural styles from medieval to baroque, many with frescoed walls, surrounding squares and crowding the cobbled lanes.

Zofingen

The photographs here are from 2010 and 2011.

Zofingen
Zofingen
Zofingen
Beautiful doors in the stadtkirche.
Zofingen
Zofingen
Stiftsturm
Zofingen
Zofingen
Zofingen
View from the stiftsturm.

 

In 2011 there was a carillon concert in the stiftsturm while we were sitting in the square having a beer, mostly modern songs and finishing with "Stairway to Heaven" as we climbed the tower!

 

Emmental

Emmental

The Emmental region of Switzerland in the canton of Bern is an idyllic agricultural landscape dotted with traditional farms and where the famous Emmental cheese is made.

About 35km south of Zofingen is the show dairy at Affoltern. It is a very nice drive between the two places, through countryside with typical Emmental farmhouses.

Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
The three highest peaks from left to right are Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
Emmental
Making Emmental cheese.

From Affoltern, on a clear day, there is a wonderful view of the peaks of the Bernese Oberland.

Again the photographs are from 2010 and 2011.

Emmental
Emmental

 

Emmental cheese, of course, is made here - you can see the process and the huge discs of cheese stacked up behind glass.

Emmental
Emmental
Emmental

It is possible to drive a narrow track up to a viewpoint over the Swiss countryside and a First World War Memorial to 20 Swiss dragoons who died of Spanish flu.1

Emmental
Memorial to WW1 dragoons.

 

Emmental

 

About 10 km west of Affoltern is the village of Burgdorf and its impressive 12th century castle. The route via Rüegsau is very picturesque.

Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
Burgdorf Castle
Emmental
The Coat of Arms of Bern.
Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
Emmental
A fine view of the Bernese Oberland from the castle.

 

Hornussen

Hornussen
Getting ready to launch the Nouss.

In 2009 we went to Hochstetten in the Emmental to see a Hornussen tournament. I don't know how popular this peculiar Swiss sport is in the rest of the country but the only other time I've seen it was in 1991 in Utzenstorf, also in the Emmental.

The sport is played by two teams which take it in turn to "bat" and field. The "batter" uses a long flexible pole or whip which has a short wooden cylinder at its tip. A small puck or "Nouss" is placed at the front end of a curved rail.

Hornussen
The fielders wait.

The "batter" flexes the whip and strikes the puck launching it into the air and down the field. The aim is to hit it as far as possible. The fielders have large wooden paddles which they fling into the air to try to stop the puck in mid-flight.2


Video: launching the "Nouss".
Hornussen
The puck can just be seen top right. In the background are many teams of fielders.

Video: stopping the "Nouss".

Hornussen

It is truly bizarre.

 

 

Gruyères

Gruyeres

 

This lovely hilltop village in the canton of Fribourg is famous for Gruyère cheese, the essential cheese in a Swiss fondue, whether combined with Emmental, or vacherin to make moitié-moitié.

 

Gruyeres
Swiss cheese fondue.

A visit always includes a meal of fondue, summer or winter, though otherwise it's a winter dish.

Gruyeres
Museum H R Giger
Gruyeres
Gruyeres

The village is composed of a long wide cobbled street with shops, restaurants and houses on each side, leading up to the castle.

The H R Giger Museum is located in a small chateau leading up to the castle. It houses an extensive collection by the man who, as a member of the special effects team in the movie Alien, designed the various forms of the alien itself. Any fan of the movie will enjoy this - I loved seeing the models and paintings.

Gruyeres

Gruyeres
Gruyeres
Gruyeres
Gruyeres

 

Gruyeres
H R Giger Museum Bar

 

Most of his work is depictions of biomechanical creations; I found many of the exhibits sadistically misogynistic.

 

Opposite is the H R Giger Museum Bar which is fantastically styled in Giger's biomechanical design, without the sadism and misogyny! It is vaulted with ribs and backbones - very like being inside a huge skeleton.

Gruyeres
Gruyeres
Chateau de Gruyères

Gruyeres
Gruyeres
Gruyeres
Knights' Hall with 19th century frescoes.
The original castle dates from the 13th century; it was rebuilt in 1493 after a fire.
Gruyeres
Gruyeres
Gruyeres
Gruyeres

 

References

  1. Switzerland and the First World War
  2. What is Hornussen?