Monday, December 7, 2015

Brienz: romantic streets, waterfalls and violins

The stunning village of Brienz has been on the tourist map since the 19th century when “The Grand Tour of Europe” became en vogue. Nested at the foot of the Brienzer Rothorn, on the northern shore of Lake Brienz, the village boasts stunning vistas and beautiful streets lined up with wooden chalets. The picture-perfect Brunngasse was once voted the most beautiful street in Europe. It is flanked by wooden traditional style 18th century houses decorated with elaborate carvings, bright flowers and armies of cute gnome figurines. 

Famous for its wood carving tradition Brienz is home to an old school that has been training woodcarvers since the 19th century. The Swiss firm Lötscher that makes the only genuine Swiss cuckoo clocks builds its exquisite clocks in its workshop in Brienz. There is also a reputable  Violin Making School in the village, the only school of its kind in Switzerland. You can book a tour 
to have a glimpse into the craft of string instrument making and learn about the trade secrets.

Brienzer Rothorn Mountain 
Brienz’s main attraction is the crystal-clear lake with its traffic-free promenade and cruises on a restored steam boat “Lötschberg”. In summer, there are many lake tours to satisfy any taste: the “Fondue boat”, “Alpine-style brunch”, “Swiss BBQ Cruise” and others. By boat you can reach the spectacular Giessbach Falls that roar down into the lake from the height of 500 metres.
Another vintage means of transport that to enjoy is the oldest steam rack railway in Switzerland, the Brienz-Rothorn Railway, that takes visitors to the Brienzer Rothorn summit to admire stunning panoramas of the Swiss Alpes.

Ballenberg Open-Air Museum
The village is home to the lovely Ballenberg Open-Air Museum where you can see 80 reconstructed  houses and farm buildings dating from the 16th to the 19th century that were brought here from all over Switzerland. From mid-April through October the museum runs fascinating traditional crafts demonstration and workshops.

Photos by: Andrew Bossi/Wikipedia Creative Commons, Miles Sabin/Flickr, Martin Hilber/Flickr.

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