Today, the French Church in Bern is much more than just a place of prayer and refuge. It is now the oldest sacred building in the capital and attracts fans of architecture, art and culture alike.
The place of worship was built in the 13th century by the local Dominicans. From 1623 onward it served the Protestant community and was home to French church services. Later, the church became known as a safe haven for the Huguenots.
Located just a stone’s throw away from the Kornhaus granary and Bern’s Lower Old Town, the French Church’s architectural and artistic elements are a monument to the past. Gothic pillars with high, narrow windows are combined with the austerity of the Reformation. The wooden ceiling panels in the central nave are complemented by meticulously painted wall murals around the triumphal arches. Art lovers can feast their eyes on the Nelkenmeister frescoes and test their eyesight searching for the two hidden Nägeli.
An ornate organ adorns the wall on the rood screen above the altar. Its unmistakable tones (the organ is one of the best in the city), along with the choral concerts and musical productions of major works, regularly flood the church’s interior with imposing, harmonious and polyphonic melodies. The French Church’s splendid acoustics ensure that concerts are truly memorable experiences.References:
The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture.
The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. Its owners alternated - at the end of the 14th century the family of Stibor of Stiborice bought it.
The next owners, the Bánffys who adapted the Gothic castle to the Renaissance residence, improved its fortifications preventing the Turks from conquering it at the end of the 16th century. When Bánffys died out, the castle was owned by several noble families. It fell in decay after fire in 1729.
The history of the castle is the subject of different legends. One of them narrates the origin of the name of castle derived from that of jester Becko for whom the Duke Stibor had the castle built.
Another legend has it that the lord of the castle had his servant thrown down from the rock because he protected his child from the lords favourite dog. Before his death, the servant pronounced a curse saying that they would meet in a year and days time, and indeed precisely after that time the lord was bitten by a snake and fell down to the same abyss.
The well-conserved ruins of the castle, now the National Cultural Monument, are frequently visited by tourists, above all in July when the castle festival takes place. The former Ambro curia situated below the castle now shelters the exhibition of the local history.