Picturesque Lakeside Castles
Who doesn’t like visiting a castle when travelling in Europe? We visited many French Chateaux and German Schloss’s during our European travels. They are all so very different and all have something unique to offer. Lake Thun, in Switzerland also offered some magnificent historic castles to browse through.
A drive through Interlaken towards Spiez took us through the rolling green vineyards at the foot of the Bernese Alps, setting of “Schloss Spiez”.
Set up as a living museum, the castle provides an insight into daily domestic life during the different periods of castle ownership. The foundations of the castle date back to AD1000.
From portrait galleries, to a kitchen depicting how game was cooked during the 15th century, to displays of armour, the Schloss provided an interesting peek at medieval Swiss history.
This medieval heating system could be found in may of the formal rooms. The clever ceramic stoves prevented smoky fires from filling the rooms, keeping them toasty warm during the chilly Swiss winters. The draughty palace chambers, with high vaulted ceilings would certainly have been a challenge to heat.
Throughout the galleries we came across ornate ceiling work and fire-piece carvings. These were works of art in themselves, before we took the chance to browse through the art collections. A medieval lintel, dated 1598 reminded us of the castle’s centuries of history.
Medieval Knight’s quarters
Knights quarters at Schloss Spiez
The oldest part of the castle, the knight’s tower dates back to the 13th century. Today you can still see the graffiti from knights of yore carved into the stonework. A somewhat steep, rickety staircase takes you to the top of the observation tower. From the tower there are spectacular views over the village, across the lake and to the mountains beyond and also of the exquisitely manicured gardens.
The 15th century chapel is still available for weddings and baptisms, as was unfortunately the case today so we were only able to take a brief walk around the exterior of the historic building.
Schloss Spiez, Interlaken
There was a wedding planned for Spiez chapel the day of our visit, so we were only able to catch a small glimpse of the gardens.
Visiting Schloss Spiez
Schloss Spiez is open from Easter until Mid October.
It is open from 10-5 Tuesday to Sunday and from 2-5 on Mondays.
Entry is free to the chapel and gardens, the museum and castle are CHF10 adults and CHF2 Children.
Travelling further around the lake we came to “Schloss Oberhofen”, which was by now closed for lunch. This gave us the perfect excuse to relax under umbrellas in the square by the lake, enjoying a meal as we watched the tourist boats sail past on the lake
“Schloss Oberhofen” is a picture-perfect lakeside castle near Bern. It now holds many exhibits from the Bern History museum and it also provided some unique features. A small ante room is perched out over the lake. It would have spectacular views, but you marvel at how it has stood the test of time and tide. Upstairs, you will find a “Turkish smoking room”, furnished with treasures brought back from travels in Asia.
The upper floors held an extensive display “at your service” which provided an interactive audio-visual of what life was like for servants in these massive palaces. From the relatively austere living and working spaces of the servants, through a door to the oppulence of the palatial quarters was quite a comparison.
Unusually, there was also an English option, which probably made this castle one of the more enjoyable palaces we visited during our road trip.
Magnificent Gardens at Oberhofen
Unfortunately photography was not allowed inside the palace. However we were able to capture the surrounding natural beauty. The castle complex is surrounded by the original keep dating back to 1200AD, where we had the opportunity for a lakeside courtyard lunch at the cafe.
Magnificent gardens, Schloss Oberhofen
We spent quite some time browsing through the magnificent lakeside gardens. It was very easy to see why it has been described as one of the most beautiful alpine gardens. As it was spring, the garden beds were resplendent with colourful plantings and shady archways to walk through.
Lakeside gardens, Schloss Oberhofen
Visiting Schloss Oberhofen
Schloss Oberhofen is open from mid-May to mid-October.
Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday 11-5
Entry to the castle museum is Adults CHF 10 Children CHF2
Like most of the castles we visited in Europe, Schloss Spiez and Schloss Oberhofen gave us two different, but interesting perspectives of medieval life in these historic Swiss palaces.