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:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.