For me, Bern is the most beautiful city in Switzerland. I love its city architecture and the preserved high-medieval houses in its old city. Not to mention the dramatic views of the city from the parks and gardens only minutes away from the city center on foot.
But do you know what makes Bern more special? Its fountains. Bern is known as Switzerland’s city of fountains, with over 100 public fountains in the city.
The fountains in Bern aren’t like the ones you can see in ordinary public spaces. They are works of art that date back as early as the 16th century! And today, I’m going to share my favorite fountains in Bern, which are also the most beautiful.
As a history enthusiast and a fan of old-world architecture, I can’t help but be fascinated by Bern. I guess if you are like me, you’ll have your wanderlust well satisfied just by walking on the arcaded streets of its old city.
Strolling in Bern is lovely, especially with the fountains all over the city. They are like gems you pick up at every turn of the way. You’ll have something to photograph at every street and square you visit in Bern.
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Generally, the medieval fountains in Bern look the same. They have their wells and in the middle of each well is a column/pillar from which the water spouts out.
The statues on top of their columns make the medieval fountains in Bern unique from each other. Some fountains have pillars with colorful paint and figurines—adding more charm to the fountain.
The fountains will look more attractive when you visit Bern during spring or summer, when colorful flowers embellish them.
Because the fountains in Bern are beautiful in their own ways, I can’t enumerate them for you from the prettiest to the least.
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 shown for each fountain. And the exact location of each fountain is linked at the end of this post.
We will begin your journey to the old city of Bern to see its beautiful fountains at Bahnhof. It is the bus/tram station beside Heiliggeistkirche in the station square.
Are you looking for ways to visit Bern? Do you want to know how much time you must spend in Bern? My posts below can help! (Links open in a new tab)
Not sure how many days to visit Bern? Check my article How Long To Spend In Bern
Let’s get started!
Fountain #1 Pfeiferbrunnen
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 original fountains in Bern.
According to books, Pfeiferbrunnen was created to remind people to be cheerful and celebrate beautiful moments in life. The statues in the fountain will show you why.
The main character in Pfeiferbrunnen is the musician playing his bagpipe. He is accompanied by the golden goose, a small monkey playing the flageolet, and children who look like they are partying.
It’s nice that Bernese residents placed Pfeiferbrunnen on Spitalgasse, near the train station. I think it serves as a happy welcome for travelers visiting the old city of Bern.
If you want to photograph Pfeiferbrunnen, I suggest you take the shot slightly away from the fountain. This is so you can include Käfigturm in the background of the photo.
Fountain #2 Ryfflibrunnen
After Pfeiferbrunnen, the second beautiful fountain in Bern that you should visit is Ryfflibrunnen, or the Ryffli Fountain. You can find it in Aarbergergasse, the second street north of Spitalgasse.
If you are currently at Pfeiferbrunnen, you can reach Aarbergergasse through a small alley, Ryffligässchen (a shortcut), 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 mocked the Bernese army during a battle with the Burgundians.
When you visit the fountain, you can see the statue of Ryffli showing the marksman so 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, on top of the fountain, is accompanied by a small armored bear (the symbol of Bern). And throughout your wandering in Bern, you can expect to see more places marked with an image of a bear.
Fountain #3 Anna-Seiler-Brunnen
As you wander deeper into the old city of Bern, you’ll discover more fountains that give insight into the history of the city. Like Anna-Seiler-Brunnen, which is located behind Käfigturm in Marktgasse.
Let’s say you are currently in Ryfflibrunnen (the previous fountain discussed). Walk east to Waisenhausplatz, and you shall see Käfigturm. Proceed to the street behind Käfigturm, and the first fountain you’ll find is Anna-Seiler-Brunnen.
Anna-Seiler-Brunnen is the beautiful fountain in Bern dedicated to Anna Seiler, a wealthy Bernese who donated a hospital to the city of Bern. The hospital was established in the mid-14th century and is now called Inselspital or the University Hospital of Bern.
For me, Anna-Seiler-Brunnen empowers women. It shows how women can indeed play an essential role in improving the status of society.
If you want to see another elegant fountain with a woman statue, you may visit Bernabrunnen. It’s a fountain in the east wing of the Bundeshaus, which is close to Anna-Seiler-Brunnen and Pfeiferbrunnen.
Fountain #4 Schützenbrunnen
Marktgasse is one of the two streets in the old city of Bern that have two beautiful fountains. Aside from Anna-Seiler-Brunnen, you can also find Schützenbrunnen, or the Marksman Fountain, in Marktgasse.
Schützenbrunnen is near the other end of Marktgasse. If you are currently at Anna-Seiler-Brunnen, walk east, and you should be able to spot Schützenbrunnen within a minute.
Not all fountains in the old city of Bern were built where they are now. One of them is Schützenbrunnen.
Previously, it was at the entrance of the Marksmen’s Association, which likely built and donated the fountain. This is why you will see the armor-clad man statue on top of the fountain holding a banner of the “Society of Musketry.”
At its current position, the armor-clad man on top of Schützenbrunnen looks like a guard, examining visitors who will enter the core of Bern’s old city through Marktgasse. The armor-clad man is accompanied by a small bear between his legs to guard the city.
Among Bern’s beautiful fountains, Schützenbrunnen is one of the most picturesque. With the arcades on both sides of Schützenbrunnen and Zytglogge in the background, I’m sure it is!
Zähringerbrunnen and Simsonbrunnen are the other fountains where you can find fantastic photo opportunities. They are located 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.
Fountain #5 Kindlifresserbrunnen
Let’s say you’re currently in Marktgasse. Before you reach Zahringerstadt and Zytglogge, you will 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 after you emerge from Marktgasse and look to the left.
After checking each fountain in Bern, I can say that Kindlifresserbrunnen is the most elaborate, along with Pfeiferbrunnen. Their detailed (with more miniature figurines or reliefs) and colorful Corinthian columns make them special among other fountains in the city.
Although Kindlifresserbrunnen and Pfeiferbrunnen are the most elaborate, they have opposite meanings. Can you guess? The figure above Kindlifresserbrunnen depicts an ogre devouring babies and children who are sacked in a bag next to him.
For hundreds of years in the past, the meaning of Kindlifresserbrunnen was a head-scratcher. People theorized about what it really represents. The most plausible theory is that it was built to scare naughty kids into behaving.
I can imagine parents bringing their unruly kids to Kindlifresserbrunnen, telling them, “If you don’t behave, an ogre will come to our house today and eat you like this!”
Fountain #6 Zähringerbrunnen
Zähringerbrunnen is the first fountain you will see once you enter Zahringerstadt through Zytglogge. It is one of the three fountains in Kramgasse, which was the center of urban life during the 19th century.
Among the fountains in Bern, I find Zähringerbrunnen 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 come close to the fountain, you’ll see a bear holding a flag, standing on top of the fountain’s column. Covered with armor and equipped with a sword and shield, it must have served as a bold introduction to newcomers about how great the Zähringen people are.
For me, Zähringerbrunnen is the best place to take a photo souvenir in Bern because it’s a symbolic landmark and its beautiful location in Kramgasse. East of Zähringerbrunnen, you can take a photo that includes Zytglogge and the picturesque arcades of the old city.
Zytglogge is more than just a landmark you can marvel at alongside Zähringerbrunnen in Kramgasse. You should see it on the hour because it becomes more spectacular!
Here’s an article to show what awaits you when visiting Zytglogge.
Fountain #7 Simsonbrunnen
Kramgasse has three fountains: Zähringerbrunnen, Simsonbrunnen, and Kreuzgassbrunnen. Simsonbrunnen is the one in the middle, a 1-minute walk away from Zähringerbrunnen.
What I love so much about preserved medieval cities such as Bern are their landmarks. They weren’t only built for a purpose or to decorate the city but to depict symbolic meaning. Often, they represent the city’s value, character, or some inspiring person.
In Bern, Simsonbrunnen serves as another example of these landmarks. It depicts the biblical hero Samson holding the mouth of the lion open. Perhaps, it was built to remind the people of Bern of their strength against any challenges and to overcome 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 slightly far from Zytglogge, but you can still see it from Simsonbrunnen.
Also, based on observation, the scene at Simsonbrunnen looks more dramatic because of 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.
Fountain #8 Vennerbrunnen
When you reach the end of Kramgasse after strolling from Zytglogge, turn left onto Kreuzgasse. After a while, you will arrive at Rathausplatz (on the right side of Kreuzgasse). It’s where you can find Vennerbrunnen—another beautiful fountain in Bern.
When you reach Rathausplatz, I believe it’s not the Vennerbrunnen you’ll notice first but the beautiful facade of Bern’s city hall and the church of Saint Peter & Paul. 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 on top of the fountain’s Corinthian pillar. The figure is the Bernese standard bearer, which I think is also the Venner, hence the fountain’s name.
A Venner is a political personality in medieval Switzerland who is in charge of the peace and protection of the city in the case of an enemy attack.
For me, Vennerbrunnen is one of the two beautiful fountains in Bern you’ll love to hang out at. There is a coffee shop/restaurant in Rathausplatz just beside Vennerbrunnen. It’s an opportunity to rest and eat while listening to the relaxing sound of the water dripping from the fountain.
Another is Mosesbrunnen, which I recommend more if you just want to relax. We’ll talk about Mosesbrunnen later!
Previously I mentioned Bern’s city hall and the church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. They are two of the most beautiful landmarks in Bern. You should check out the others, especially if you like marveling at architectural attractions.
Fountain #9 Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen
Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen, or the Justice Fountain, is the next closest beautiful fountain in Bern after you visit Vennerbrunnen or Simsonbrunnen. It is located in Gerechtigkeitsgasse, the street next to Kramgasse eastward.
Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen is the only fountain in Gerechtigkeitsgasse, located in the middle of the street.
Of the beautiful fountains in Bern, Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen is the one you can find packed with symbolism. Of course, the most notable is the lady on the fountain’s pedestal. She symbolizes well the characteristics of justice.
The lady is blindfolded, holding up a sword and scales of justice. Beside her feet are the figures of four men, depicting a pope, a sultan, an emperor, and a king. It is plausible that the fountain was designed to remind everyone that no one is above the law.
If you are like me, who loves seeing scenic views, the sight of the hills at the end of Gerechtigkeitsgasse may lure you towards it.
Although there are places in those hills where you can see panoramic views, I suggest going there only after you visit Mosesbrunnen and the Bern Cathedral. Because within those places, you can find the most breathtaking views of Bern—and you will not regret it!
A while ago, I mentioned that Bern has places where you can see panoramic views of the old city. If you want to know where they are, you can check my post about Bern’s Most Beautiful Views.
Fountain #10 Mosesbrunnen
Mosesbrunnen is at the end of this list of the most beautiful fountains in Bern (and of this mini itinerary) for two good reasons. But first, I should show you the photo of Mosesbrunnen, its exact location, and how you can reach it from Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen.
Mosesbrunnen is a beautiful fountain in Bern because, like other fountains I mentioned a while ago, it’s more than just city decoration. It also represents the characteristics and values that the residents of Bern live by.
This time, it’s about the religion of the residents in Bern, which is Christianity.
To get to Mosesbrunen from Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen, you can go through the small alley called Oberes Gerechtigkeitsgässchen beside Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen.
You shall emerge at the beautiful street of Junkerngasse, where you can spot the spire of the Bern Cathedral peaking above the houses. Walk in the direction of the church, and you shall arrive at the Munsterplatz, where the Mosesbrunnen is.
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. And you can sit on them, lay your 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 beside Bern Cathedral. If you can, you should climb the church’s spire for more stunning views of the old city.
If you are wondering what’s the view outside, inside, and on top of the Bern Cathedral, you may check my article about what you can expect when visiting Bern Cathedral. In that post, you will also see a photo of Bern’s popular red public chair (beside Mosesbrunnen) in Munsterplatz.
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