Saturday, January 21, 2006
Putting Berne in perspective
This post is to put in perspective some of the photos I've been shooting around the town. Berne is a quaint old Swiss town, founded in 1296, and although in the last 150 years Berne has outgrown it's little loop in the river and modern neighbourhoods have spread out (see computer graphic, below), the heart and soul of Berne remains the old town. You can see from some of the old maps I've fished off the web that the old town really hasn't changed at all, mostly thanks to a group known as the "Citizens of Berne", who have a vast fortune between them and finance all the upkeep and restoration.
Berne - the lower old town
A computer model of Berne from the air, looking north and showing clearly how the town has expanded outwith the Aare peninsula.
A map of Berne from 1353 (i think - MCCCLIII), looking south. You can see by comparing with the two modern pictures above that the original style and layout of the town remains almost completely intact today.
One major change is that the roads became narrower. The width of the arcades is the width of the extensions from the original housing - many of the original buildings were extended four metres towards the centre of the street using stilts to prop up the new facades. Over time this arrangement became permanent, leading to the arcades...
Another major change is that the street level has risen by over two metres, so all around the town there are cellar flap-doors leading down to vaulted caverns which are in widespread used as shops, clubs, restaurants, storerooms, workshops, flats, churches, secret society meeting places...
An English-language town plan from 1800, with a key to the main buildings