An unexpected find along the way …

December 21, 2010

In my last post I mentioned that Bern Minster is considered the most important piece of late medieval architecture in Switzerland. So you’d probably assume that for a medievalist like me it would have been the absolute highlight among Bern’s many sights. Well, I have to confess: It was not. Instead, the metaphorical laurel wreath goes to the Pauluskirche [St. Paul’s Church], built by Swiss architect Karl Moser from 1902 to 1905:

One reason why I found that church so fascinating may simply be the fact that it came as a total surprise to me. I have now learned from Wikipedia that it’s generally held to be the most important art-nouveau church in Switzerland (there’s yet another superlative for you…), but before my short trip to Bern I didn’t even know it existed. Located in a residential area outside the city centre it’s quite a bit off the beaten (tourist) track, and I only stumbled upon it because I was staying with friends who live nearby.

The main reason why I found the Pauluskirche so fascinating is, however, its, well, iridescent style. On the whole, you could say it’s in some sort of “Early 16th century when Gothic started mingling with Renaissance”-Revival style, but some of the architectural details have a certain Romanesque flair about them, while other elements show a tendency towards the Baroque. All this, however, is held together by the rhythmic art-nouveau curves of its roofs and gables and by the fine, graphic art-nouveau ornaments – complete with inlays of gold – which seem to overgrow the whole building.

I would have loved to take a look at the inside of the church, too, but it was a Sunday morning and, apparently, they were just having mass: Even from the outside I could hear the distinct sounds of a church organ and the singing congregation, interrupted only by the occasional laughter of a little kid, playing outside the church with his/her dad.

Somehow, all this reminded me of that old Kris Kristofferson song, Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down, you know, that second verse:

In the park I saw a daddy / With a laughing little girl that he was swingin’ / And I stopped beside a Sunday school / And listened to the songs that they were singin’…

Well, now you know what song I was quietly humming for the rest of that day…

One Response to “An unexpected find along the way …”

  1. Diana said

    It’s beautiful. Thank you.

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