A Walking Route to The Beautiful Fountains of Bern Old City

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Based on what I have discovered, it wouldn’t be hard for anyone visiting Bern to discern what makes the Swiss capital unique. Just walk through its streets and you’ll know the answer: the fountains.

Bern is dotted with these cute and colorful fountains. Amazingly, some of them date back as early as the 16th century and none of them look the same. Even more, each has a unique story to tell or symbolism to show. And with how they were installed in the streets, they can be compared to gems you’ll see along the way… like cute baits to make you wander further on the streets and see more of the city. It’s like this: right after you arrive at one fountain, you’ll spot another that’s not too far away, inviting you to come close and marvel at it, too.

If you don’t believe me, try going to Marktgasse, Kornhausplatz, and Kramgasse. Six of Bern’s most beautiful fountains are there. And here’s what’s more amazing: the water that spouts from Bern’s fountains is completely potable—perfect for exploring Bern during a hot summer. Do you want to see them? I’ll share with you the ten fountains in Bern I find most beautiful. Check them out when you visit Bern!

Actually, the fountains in Bern bear a similar form. Each has a well, and in the middle of each well is a column or pillar from which water spouts. What makes the medieval fountains in Bern unique from each other are the statues atop their columns. Some fountains feature pillars adorned with colorful paint and figurines, making the fountain even more charming. The fountains become even more attractive when you visit Bern during spring or summer, when they are embellished with colorful flowers.

Since each fountain in Bern is beautiful in its own way, I can’t rank them for you from most to least attractive. Instead, I’ll discuss them in a sequence you can follow, like a mini itinerary for your trip to Bern. The Google Maps route for this mini itinerary is provided for each fountain. The exact location of each fountain is linked at the end of this post…. Your journey to the old city of Bern to see its stunning fountains will begin at Bahnhof. This is the bus/tram station next to Heiliggeistkirche in the station square.

For more ideas on various ways to spend time in Bern, check out my Bern Half-Day Itinerary, Bern One-Day Itinerary, and Bern Two-Day Itinerary. If you’re unsure about the length of your stay, I have another article that can help you determine how long you should stay in Bern.

1. Pfeiferbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Pfeiferbrunnen in Bern, Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Pfeiferbrunnen
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About Pfeiferbrunnen + Route

Of the beautiful fountains in Bern, the closest to the train station is Pfeiferbrunnen, or the Bagpiper Fountain. It is located in Spitalgasse, the street to the east of Bahnhof and Bahnhofplatz.

Pfeiferbrunnen is one of the most unique fountains in Bern. According to books, Pfeiferbrunnen was created to remind people to stay cheerful and celebrate the beautiful moments in life. The statues in the fountain will show you why.

The main character in Pfeiferbrunnen is a musician playing his bagpipe. He is accompanied by a golden goose, a small monkey playing a flute, and children who appear to be celebrating. It’s wonderful that the residents of Bern placed Pfeiferbrunnen on Spitalgasse, near the train station. I believe it serves as a joyful welcome for travelers visiting the old city of Bern.

If you want to photograph Pfeiferbrunnen, I suggest you take the shot from a slight distance from the fountain. This way, you can include Käfigturm in the background of the photo.

2. Ryfflibrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Ryfflibrunnen in Bern, Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Ryfflibrunnen
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About Ryfflibrunnen + route

After visiting Pfeiferbrunnen, the second beautiful fountain in Bern that you should see is Ryfflibrunnen, also known as the Ryffli Fountain. You can find it on Aarbergergasse, the second street north of Spitalgasse. If you are currently at Pfeiferbrunnen, you can reach Aarbergergasse through a small alley, Ryffligässchen (a shortcut), located near the fountain.

Among the 10 beautiful fountains in Bern, Ryfflibrunnen is the one that features Bern’s legendary figure. As its name suggests, Ryfflibrunnen has the statue of Ryffli, the marksman—a legendary figure in the history of Bern in the 14th century. It is said that he was the soldier who killed an enemy knight (Jordan III of Burgistein) who taunted the Bernese army during a battle with the Burgundians.

When you visit the fountain, you can see the statue of Ryffli, the marksman, looking quite proud of himself. He carries his crossbow on his shoulder and poses as if to say, “No one can stand against Bern!” The statue of Ryffli, atop the fountain, is accompanied by a small armored bear (the symbol of Bern).

3. Anna-Seiler-Brunnen

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Photo and exact location of Anna-Seiler-Brunnen in Bern Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Anna-Seiler-Brunnen
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About Anna-Seiler-Brunnen + Route

As you wander deeper into the old city of Bern, you’ll come across more fountains that provide insight into the city’s history. Take, for example, Anna-Seiler-Brunnen, which is located behind Käfigturm on Marktgasse. Suppose you are currently at Ryfflibrunnen (the fountain we discussed earlier). Walk east to Waisenhausplatz, and you’ll see Käfigturm. Continue to the street behind Käfigturm, and the first fountain you’ll encounter is Anna-Seiler-Brunnen.

Anna-Seiler-Brunnen is a beautiful fountain in Bern dedicated to Anna Seiler, a wealthy Bernese woman who donated a hospital to the city of Bern. The hospital was established in the mid-14th century and is now known as Inselspital or the University Hospital of Bern. To me, Anna-Seiler-Brunnen symbolizes women’s empowerment. It demonstrates how women can indeed play a crucial role in societal advancement.

If you want to see another elegant fountain featuring a female statue, you might want to visit Bernabrunnen. It’s a fountain located in the east wing of the Bundeshaus, which is near both Anna-Seiler-Brunnen and Pfeiferbrunnen. Here’s what you can see outside and outside Bundeshaus.

4. Schützenbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Schützenbrunnen in Bern Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Schützenbrunnen
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About Schützenbrunnen + Route

Marktgasse is one of two streets in the old city of Bern that boasts two beautiful fountains. In addition to Anna-Seiler-Brunnen, you can also find Schützenbrunnen, or the Marksman Fountain, on Marktgasse. Schützenbrunnen is located near the other end of Marktgasse. If you’re currently at Anna-Seiler-Brunnen, head east, and you should spot Schützenbrunnen within a minute.

Not all fountains in the old city of Bern were originally built where they stand now. One such fountain is Schützenbrunnen. It was previously located at the entrance of the Marksmen’s Association, which likely constructed and donated the fountain. This is why you will see a statue of an armored man atop the fountain, holding a banner of the “Society of Musketry.”

In its current location, the armored man atop Schützenbrunnen appears to be a guard, scrutinizing visitors who enter the heart of Bern’s old city via Marktgasse. The armored man is joined by a small bear positioned between his legs, symbolizing the city’s protection.

Among Bern’s beautiful fountains, Schützenbrunnen is one of the most picturesque. With arcades on both sides of Schützenbrunnen and Zytglogge in the background, it’s certainly a sight to behold!

Zähringerbrunnen and Simsonbrunnen are other fountains where you can find fantastic photo opportunities. They are situated in Kramgasse, which is in Zahringerstadt—the central and oldest neighborhood of the old city of Bern. Kramgasse is the street behind Zytglogge if you’re currently in Marktgasse or at Schützenbrunnen.

5. Kindlifresserbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Kindlifresserbrunnen in Bern Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Kindlifresserbrunnen
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About Kindlifresserbrunnen + Route

Let’s say you’re currently in Marktgasse. Before you reach Zahringerstadt and Zytglogge, you’ll first pass by Kornhausplatz (Granary Square), where the Kindlifresserbrunnen, or the Ogre Fountain, is located. Kindlifresserbrunnen is situated in the center of Kornhausplatz. You should be able to spot it immediately as you exit Marktgasse and look to your left.

After examining each fountain in Bern, I can say that Kindlifresserbrunnen is the most elaborate, along with Pfeiferbrunnen. Their detailed designs, featuring more miniature figurines or reliefs, and colorful Corinthian columns set them apart from other fountains in the city. Although Kindlifresserbrunnen and Pfeiferbrunnen are the most intricate, they convey contrasting meanings. Can you guess? The figure atop Kindlifresserbrunnen depicts an ogre devouring babies and children who are stuffed in a bag next to him.

For hundreds of years, the meaning of Kindlifresserbrunnen was a mystery. People speculated about what it truly represents. The most plausible theory is that it was constructed to frighten misbehaving children into good behavior. I can picture out parents bringing their unruly children to Kindlifresserbrunnen, warning them, “If you don’t behave, an ogre will come to our house today and eat you like this!”

6. Zähringerbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Zähringerbrunnen in Bern, Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Zähringerbrunnen
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About Zähringerbrunnen + Route

Zähringerbrunnen is the first fountain you’ll encounter upon entering Zahringerstadt through Zytglogge. It’s one of three fountains in Kramgasse, which served as the hub of city life during the 19th century.

Among the fountains in Bern, I find Zähringerbrunnen to be the most iconic. Why? Because it features bears, Bern’s heraldic animals, and is reminiscent of the founders of Bern, the Zähringen people. When you approach the fountain, you’ll see a bear holding a flag, standing atop the fountain’s column. Clad in armor and equipped with a sword and shield, it must have served as a bold introduction to newcomers about the greatness of the Zähringen people.

In my opinion, Zähringerbrunnen is the best place to take a souvenir photo in Bern due to its symbolic significance and its beautiful location in Kramgasse. East of Zähringerbrunnen, you can capture a photo that includes Zytglogge and the picturesque arcades of the old city.

Zytglogge is more than just a landmark you can admire alongside Zähringerbrunnen in Kramgasse. You should see it on the hour because it becomes even more spectacular! Also, don’t forget to check out Zytglogges’s beautiful details when you visit.

7. Simsonbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Simsonbrunnen in Bern Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Simsonbrunnen
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About Simsonbrunnen + Route

Kramgasse is home to three fountains: Zähringerbrunnen, Simsonbrunnen, and Kreuzgassbrunnen. Simsonbrunnen is the one in the middle, just a 1-minute walk from Zähringerbrunnen.

What I greatly appreciate about well-preserved medieval cities like Bern are their landmarks. They weren’t just constructed for a purpose or to beautify the city, but to convey symbolic meaning. Often, they represent the city’s values, character, or an inspiring individual.

In Bern, Simsonbrunnen serves as another example of these landmarks. It depicts the biblical hero Samson prying open the mouth of a lion. Perhaps it was built to remind the people of Bern of their strength in facing any challenges and overcoming them.

Fun fact: Simsonbrunnen wasn’t called Simsonbrunnen when it was built in 1687. Instead, it was called the “Butcher’s Fountain” because it was donated by the Butcher’s Guild. This is why, if you look at it closely, you will see Samson carrying the butcher’s weapon and tools.

Speaking of photography… Like Zähringerbrunnen, beautiful photo opportunities await you at Simsonbrunnen. Simsonbrunnen is a bit distant from Zytglogge, but you can still see it from Simsonbrunnen. Also, based on observation, the scene at Simsonbrunnen appears more dramatic due to the long symmetrical arcades behind the fountain. I love the leading lines formed by the houses you can observe from this spot. I suggest you don’t miss this spot if you aim to bring home many photographs of Bern.

8. Vennerbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Vennerbrunnen in Bern, Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Vennerbrunnen
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About Vennerbrunnen + Route

When you reach the end of Kramgasse after walking from Zytglogge, make a left onto Kreuzgasse. After a short distance, you will arrive at Rathausplatz (on the right side of Kreuzgasse). This is where you can find Vennerbrunnen—another beautiful fountain in Bern.

When you reach Rathausplatz, I believe it’s not Vennerbrunnen that you’ll notice first, but the beautiful facade of Bern’s city hall and the church of Saint Peter & Paul — two of Bern’s beautiful landmarks.

Vennerbrunnen is at the corner of the square, to your right if you are currently facing the city hall. What makes Vennerbrunnen beautiful? Of course, it’s the statue standing atop the fountain’s Corinthian pillar. The figure is the Bernese standard bearer, which I think is also the Venner, hence the fountain’s name. Fun fact: A Venner is a political figure in medieval Switzerland who is responsible for the peace and protection of the city in the event of an enemy attack.

For me, Vennerbrunnen is one of the two beautiful fountains in Bern where you’ll love to spend time. There is a coffee shop/restaurant in Rathausplatz just beside Vennerbrunnen. It’s an opportunity to rest and eat while listening to the soothing sound of the water dripping from the fountain. Another is Mosesbrunnen, which I recommend more if you just want to relax.

9. Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen in Bern, Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen
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Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen + Route

Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen, or the Justice Fountain, is the next closest beautiful fountain in Bern after you visit either Vennerbrunnen or Simsonbrunnen. It’s located on Gerechtigkeitsgasse, the street adjacent to Kramgasse to the east. Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen is the only fountain on Gerechtigkeitsgasse and is situated in the middle of the street.

Among the beautiful fountains in Bern, Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen is the one you can find filled with symbolism. Of course, the most notable is the lady on the fountain’s pedestal. She aptly symbolizes the characteristics of justice. The lady is blindfolded, holding up a sword and scales of justice.

At her feet are the figures of four men, depicting a pope, a sultan, an emperor, and a king. It’s plausible that the fountain was designed to remind everyone that no one is above the law.

If you’re like me and love scenic views, the sight of the hills at the end of Gerechtigkeitsgasse may draw you towards them. Although there are spots in those hills where you can see panoramic views, I suggest visiting them only after you’ve been to Mosesbrunnen and the Bern Cathedral. Because within those places, you can find the most breathtaking views of Bern—and you won’t regret it!

10. Mosesbrunnen

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Photo and exact location of Mosesbrunnen in Bern Switzerland
Photo and exact location of Mosesbrunnen
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About Mosesbrunnen + Route

Mosesbrunnen is at the end of this list of the most beautiful fountains in Bern (and of this mini itinerary) for two compelling reasons. But first, I should present you with a photo of Mosesbrunnen, its precise location, and how you can get there from Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen.

Mosesbrunnen is a beautiful fountain in Bern because, like the other fountains I mentioned earlier, it’s more than just a city decoration. It also represents the characteristics and values that the residents of Bern uphold. This time, it’s about the religion of the residents in Bern, which is Christianity.

To get to Mosesbrunnen from Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen, you can go through the small alley called Oberes Gerechtigkeitsgässchen next to Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen. You’ll emerge onto the beautiful street of Junkerngasse, where you can spot the spire of the Bern Cathedral peeking above the houses. Walk in the direction of the church, and you’ll arrive at Munsterplatz, where Mosesbrunnen is located.

The first reason why Mosesbrunnen is the last fountain to see is simply its location, Munsterplatz or Minster Square. For me, Munsterplatz is the best place to relax after your stroll through the old city. Why? You can find some of Bern’s popular red public chairs in the square. You can sit on them, lean back and rest your legs while admiring the imposing facade of the Bern Cathedral.

The second reason why Mosesbrunnen is the fountain you should see last in Bern is that it can be the start of the second leg of your trip to Bern. That is, going to places where you can observe the most panoramic views of the old city. You can start with the viewing platform next to Bern Cathedral. If you can, you should climb the church’s spire for more stunning views of the old city.

Wondering what’s the view outside, inside, and on top of the Bern Cathedral? Check out my article about what you can expect when visiting Bern Cathedral.

Google Maps & More Information

So, what are your thoughts on my top selections for the most stunning fountains in Bern? If you’re interested in learning more about them, please feel free to check out the sources listed below. For your convenience, I’ve included Google Map links in this section to help you locate these fountains in Bern more quickly.

Sources:

Google Maps Location:

Are you considering a visit to the beautiful city of Bern and still exploring options for your stay? I would like to suggest a fantastic hotel search and booking platform, partnered with me. They are known for providing some of the most competitive hotel deals across Europe. Their user-friendly map feature allows you to effortlessly locate a hotel that best suits your convenience.

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Exploring Bern is such a delight! Despite its small size, the city has a wealth of sights to offer. In addition to the fountains of Bern, you might also enjoy the city’s architectural wonders and stunning views during your visit. Lastly, if you need more ideas on how to visit Switzerland, check out my 4-day Switzerland itinerary for an extended weekend trip and my 6-day Switzerland itinerary for an unforgettable week-long trip to this country.

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