Mountains… and more: Bern Marzili

For this week’s installment of Mountains… and more I would like to tell you a bit more about one of my favorite spots in Bern: the Marzili.

Bern is located close to the center of Switzerland and only one hour away from other cities such as Zurich, Basel, Lucerne or Lausanne. It is famous for it’s wonderfully preserved old town with their medieval fountains, the seat of the Swiss government and the bear park, where the city pays tribute to their heraldic animal. I grew up in a little village outside of Bern and graduated from high school in the city. So I would like to talk to you about the place I spent many lunch breaks, lazy afternoons and summer evenings relaxing: the Marzili.

The Marzili is an outdoor swimming pool near the river Aar. Rather uncharacteristically for expensive Switzerland, there is no entry fee. It boasts various basins such as a lap pool and diving area. Very generous lawns are able to accomodate the guests. If you’re not only interested in swimming, you will find beach volleyball fields and on most days you will also have enough space to set up a small football game. Another treat is the great view of the Federal Palace of Switzerland and cathedral. The Marzili is a great place to spend a few hours enjoying good company and terrific weather.

The greatest asset is the river Aar, as it gives guests the opportunity to swim and drift away in the refreshing waters of the river. As a word of caution, the Aar should not be underestimated and only experienced swimmers should attempt to go in. There are no lifeguards and swimming in the the river is definitely something to attempt at your own risk. Personally, I’m a terrible swimmer, so I spend most of my days there enjoying the sun, scenery and sports without venturing into the river. But most of my friends still living near Bern cannot wait for their first river swims of the year, even going in at temperatures well below the pool average. The Marzili is a Bernese institution and adored by locals.

A typical day in the Marzili for me consisted of arriving with a group of friends and looking for a spot near the volleyball field. A bit of swimming in the pool to cool off the heat was followed by a game of beach volleyball or by trying out the newest tricks with a football. Then my friends went off to enjoy swimming in the river, while I stayed back to guard their  valuables and read a great book. When the gates were closing and the sun was setting, we then walked a bit upstream to the Eichholz,  a riverside camp site with various fireplaces. The evening was then spent relaxing with a barbecue partying before heading back.

Similar to the Polyterrasse in Zurich you can reach the Marzili by taking a furnicular to a station very close-by. The upper station is located three minutes from the central train station in close proximity to the Bundeshaus, the Federal Palace of Switzerland. If you feel like walking, getting to the Marzili from the old town area is a fifteen minutes downhill walk with several staircases leading to the Marzili.

One of the great pleasures of Bern is that so many interesting attractions are in walking distance of each other. From the Marzili, you can take a ten-minute (uphill) walk to the museum district of the city. The most interesting places are the museum of history with a fantastic exhibition on Albert Einstein, the Swiss Alpine museum which has recently been modernized and the museum of communications, my favorite museum growing up.

Even closer to the Marzili and across the low bridge where most people actually enter the Aar, is Bern’s version of a zoo, the Tierpark Dählhölzli. I haven’t visited the Tierpark in a while, but I remember enjoying their penguins a lot. With miles of open space and a petting zoo, it is a great attraction for families with young children.

As you can see, the Marzili is a great place to take a short break from a day of sightseeing or an excellent venuefor a day-trip if you’re staying in the region anyway. Of course, as it is an outdoor swimming pool, I’d only recommend stopping by on a sunny summer day as otherwise you’ll find a rather deserted area.

Thank you for reading and as always, any feedback is greatly appreciated. Unfortunately I haven’t received my new camera yet but I will update the posts with photos as soon as it arrives, so stay tuned. If you have any questions about the Marzili or Bern, just let me know and I’ll be glad to help you out.

Sincerely yours,

Albert

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