Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Castle hunting near Bern & Zurich, Switzerland

Several hundred castles dot Switzerland's landscape and this summer I've checked a few more off my "Swiss Castles to Visit" list. Cycling 15 miles west of Bern brings me to Laupen (population 2,900). You can see Laupen Castle lording over the town.
Built between the 10th and 13th centuries, the castle overlooks the Sense river.
Entrance to Laupen Castle.
View from upper castle courtyard.
Beautiful half-timbered structures in Laupen's town center.
So, I'm starting the day about 10 miles from the German/Swiss border. My map of Switzerland is one of those that marks places of interests such castles, golf courses, museums etc... The map's symbol for a castle are all over this area. I'll be cycling through out-of-the way villages and hopefully find the six castles on the route to be traveled. In the photo above I've just cycled across the river.
I stop to check my map after crossing the river and see the sign posted to the right of my bike.
Wow, see to the left of the white arrow--there's an opening in the low wall---that's a fortified machine gun nest from 1940!
Though this sign board is in German I can pretty much figure it out. The Swiss were fearful of being invaded by Germany during World War II and between 1938-1940 built lots of defensive positions. The photos show a fortified bunker and figure it must still be in the area so, I start cycling up a hill via dirt roads past several farm houses.
And, here it is.
This is the view from the bunker. You can see the river in the distance and I'm sure back then trees weren't blocking the line of sight. Never did find the castle that was supposedly in the village.
Sometimes when hunting for a castle I'll find only ruins, other times the castle may be nothing more than a fortified house. This is the story when I get to the next village.
Here's a side view of the castle or fortified house.
The view. The cycling is fantastic with up and down rolling hills through narrow valleys and fertile farmland.  
Half-timbered house in village.
Nice mailbox.
Stopping in a tiny village to fill my water bottle I run into these two characters in the backyard of a house.
Approaching the fence they start making loud noises and can't figure out if they're being friendly or being territorial--as in "go away".
View back to the valley I just biked out from.
This castle near Winterthur has been turned into restaurant.
This castle near Zurich has also been turned into a restaurant.

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