New Castle with rich History – Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Living in Switzerland has been a great experience. As you could see in one of our previous videos, there are many differences between life here and life in the USA. However, one thing that never fails to amaze us is Swiss trust. We came across that beautiful phenomenon once again during our visit of Neuchâtel or as German would say - Neuenburg.
All over the Switzerland, you will see these little free street libraries. People just put out a few wooden boxes and leave the books they have read for other people to take. It is such an incredible act of kindness, don’t you agree?
Well, we thought that was the case in Neuchâtel too, but when we took a closer look, we realized the books had their prices, and we should pay for them inside of the actual library. So, our girls picked out a few books for themselves, and we entered the building to make a purchase. Surprisingly, there was nobody inside. However, there was a note laying on the table, where librarian should sit, and it said: “If I am not here, just leave the money in this envelope.”
Can you imagine coming across something like that in America or anywhere else in the world?
Swiss simply believe that you will be fair enough and do as you should. No one thinks you would steal or trick them in any other way. That’s just the way they are; they have faith in humanity. That must be one of the reasons why crime rates in Switzerland are so low.
Let us get back to our tour through the Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
What should you know?
Full of colorful houses and astonishing murals, Neuchâtel is located on the north side of the lake of the same name. When you first come to this university town, you might have a feeling that you are in France, because of its elegance and warmth. This should not surprise you, as Neuchâtel was indeed part of the France but as the borders changed through history, it became part of the Switzerland in 1848.
Even though city’s name means “New Castle,” it has a rich history. The remains of a Magdalenian hunting camp were found here, which proves that people were living in this area since 13,000 BC. On this site, archeologist found fire pits, carved flints and bones Also, they found three tiny earrings made of lignite. It is assumed these earrings have served as a symbol of fertility, at the same time they are the oldest known art in Switzerland.
In 1011, Rudolph III of Burgundy presented a new castle that still overlooks the city and the lake, to his wife, Irmengarde. Historians assumed the castle is supposed to replace an older one, but no information about its location or design was found.
What to visit?
Once you come to Neuchâtel, you shouldn’t have any problem getting around the city. They have a reliable bus, tram, and train schedule and all of the bus lines converge at the Place Pury, main square of the town.
If you are passionate about history, this might be one of the best places in Switzerland for you. In our case, the most prominent impression made the medieval Château along with the Collegiate Church and the center of the town. The two enchanting buildings date back to 12th century.
Besides that, Neuchâtel is a home to several museums. Among the others, there are Laténium Museum which is the largest archaeological museum in Switzerland and The Museum of Art and History in the "Palais des Beaux-Arts" which has four separate collections: fine and applied arts, numismatics, and history.
This city can be proud to have two sites registered on the UNESCO list of the World Heritage Sites. The first is located in the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds Perched at 1,000 meters altitude, while the second is hidden underwater. The lake of Neuchâtel is home to prehistoric pile dwellings characteristic for the Alps region.
Even if you find nature much more interesting than history, you won’t be disappointed. As the waterfront wasn’t enough on its own, Neuchâtel has another gem to offer. Park Jeunes-Rives, right on the lakefront is a great space for relaxing. Also, if you have a chance, don’t forget to visit Papiliorama-Nocturama in Kerzers. This tropical experience world will offer you an opportunity to see colorful exotic butterflies and many other nocturnal animals you could only dream of.
Bonus information for true hedonists
The best time to visit Neuchâtel is definitely on the last weekend of September. This is when their annual Grape Harvest Festival happens. Except for the wine tasting during this a joyful and colorful event, a city organizes a half hour long firework, children's fancy-dress parade and the grand night-time procession with "Guggenmusik."
Also, Fondue Neuchâteloise is something you should try. This Swiss specialty consists of delicious melted cheese in which you dip crispy bread. On the other hand, if you are craving some meat, Munzur Croissantierie Kebab will welcome you with open hands. They have the best kebab in town!
We hope you will enjoy Neuchâtel as much as we did. If you want to take a little preview before you visit this medieval place, you should check out this video on our YouTube channel. There are some fantastic photos on our Instagram page too. Don’t forget to give us a big thumbs up, comment, follow, subscribe and share our story with your friends!
See you in our next adventure together!