If Bratislava was the city of statues, then Bern would be the city of fountains. Well, of statues too, since each fountain was guarded by a statue. As I walked through the old town of Bern, I started noticing them on every street, standing in the middle as if observing every passerby. I also saw them labeled on a map of the city, spread out around Bern in various corners and intersections. So, let me introduce you to some fountains of Bern and their guardians that I have had the chance to meet.
First up, the Anna-Seiler-Brunnen (or Anna Seiler Fountain). She stands in the middle of Marktgasse, the main street running through Bern, and represents the founder of the first hospital of the city.
Next we have our friend the Kindlifresserbrunnen (the Ogre fountain or the “Child Eater” Fountain). Yes, the ogre is indeed eating babies. There are several theories as to what the baby-eating ogre is supposed to represent, and if you are interesting in reading about them, click here.
This is supposed to be the Schützenbrunnen, or Musketeer Fountain, but…the musketeer is missing. Only the column upon which the musketeer sits remains. Hmm, perhaps the statue itself was gone for repair, or maybe it got too tired of sitting and went for a break…who knows.
On the street of Kramgasse stands Zähringerbrunnen (the Zähringer Fountain), commemorating the founder of Bern, Berchtold von Zähringer. The statue itself is a bear wearing a full armor with a bear cub at his feet. According to legend, Berchtold von Zähringer was looking for a place to build a city and decided to name it after the first animal he’d meet on the way, which turned out to be a bear. That’s why Bern is associated with bears in so many ways 🙂
Also on Kramgasse is the Simsonbrunnen, or Samson Fountain, showing Samson and the lion as told in the Biblical story. Well, Samson seems fierce, alright, slaying the lion with his bare hands, but he certainly has a lot less hair than I would have expected.
Continuing on, the Vennerbrunnen, or Ensign Fountain, guards the old city hall of Bern. Bearing a flag with the bear of Bern, he swears to protect the peace of the city.
Next up, the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen (Justice Fountain) is guarded by Iustitia, or “Lady Justice”, who is the personification of justice. Blindfolded and holding a sword in her right hand and a balance in her left, she is ready to hand down the verdict.
The Läuferbrunnen (Messenger Fountain) is hidden in a quiet square, and what do we have here but our dear friend, the bear again? Seems like it’s an awesome sidekick for our messenger.
Another Biblical statue is the Mosesbrunnen, or Moses Fountain. The story is clear here, Moses presenting the ten commandments on stone tablets.
Nearby the place where I found the bagpipe player, we have well…the Pfeiferbrunnen, or the Bagpiper Fountain. I’m almost sure that the street performer himself chose the location close to this fountain.
The Meret-Oppenheim-Brunnen (Meret Oppenheim Fountain) was created by the artist in its name, Meret Oppenheim. It’s the only fountain out of the 12 that doesn’t have a statue standing on top. Water supposedly spirals down from the sides of the large column, a symbol of growth and life.
Last but not least, we have the Ryfflibrunnen (Ryffli Fountain). I wasn’t able to find a lot of information about this final statue, only that Schütze Ryffli was a legendary shooter from Bernese history. That may have been another bear hiding behind his left leg…