Interlaken Tourist Attractions
Interlaken, reached by way of the Berne highway or the Brünig, Susten or Grimsel/Furka passes, lies between Lakes Thun and Brienz below the north side of the Jungfrau massif and offers an endless variety of walks, climbs and other excursions, particularly in the mountains of the Bernese Oberland, brought within reach by numerous mountain railroads, cableways, etc.
It is one of the oldest, best known and most popular summer holiday resorts in Switzerland, outstandingly well equipped to cater for the needs of visitors. Between the two lakes is an expanse of some 35 sq. km/14 sq. mi of alluvial soil, deposited over many millennia by mountain streams from the Bernese Oberland such as the Lütschine and the Lombach. On this green and level area, known as the Bödeli, live the 20,000 inhabitants of the separate communes of Interlaken, Böningen, Matten, Unterseen and Wilderswil.The fertile alluvial soil of the Bödeli was probably settled at an early stage by Celtic tribes. Later the main settlers were Alemanni, driven from their homeland by Burgundian incomers. A major influence on the economic and cultural development of the area was the Augustinian house founded here (inter lacus) in 1133, joined in 1257 by a nunnery. The monks were pioneers of urban development and soon became the largest landowners in the Bernese Oberland. After Berne's adoption of the reformed faith in 1528 the monastery was dissolved (and is now occupied by district administrative offices). The first visitors began to come here in the 17th C., and as transport facilities improved - with the coming of the railroad, boat services on the lakes and most recently the expressway - Interlaken became the major tourist attraction of the Bernese Oberland. Among the great attractions of the area were its local folk traditions and art. In 1805 and 1808 the peasant stock-farmers of the Alpine pasturelands celebrated their first great pastoral festivals at Unspunnen, near Interlaken; and at this time, too, the painter Franz Niklaus König was living in Schloss Unterseen and painting the pictures of mountains which became so widely popular.
The Höhematte in the midst of Interlaken is a remarkable example of farseeing town planning. The area of 14 hectares/35 acres which had belonged to the Augustinian convent was acquired in 1860 by a group of 37 hotel-owners and private persons and left as an open space, with the Höheweg, a splendid avenue running between the east and west stations and affording a magnificent view of the Jungfrau, surrounded by hotels and flower-beds. Here, too, is the Kursaal, with a theater, a cafe and beautiful gardens (flower clock). At the east end is the former Augustinian convent (1133-1528; inner courtyard with cloister, restored), with a Late Gothic church (stained glass of 1950) and the adjoining Schloss added in 1750 (now housing cantonal offices).
On the right bank of the Aare opposite the Kursaal is Interlaken's fresh water swimming-pool. There is an indoor pool, a golf course in Unterseen and trips on Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. For sporting enthusiasts there is sailing, windsurfing, riding and tennis.
The Marktgasse runs northwest from the Interlaken post office over the Spielmatten islands to the little town of Unterseen (569 m/1,867ft; pop.4,700), at the foot of Mt Harder.In the old part of the town stands the parish church, with Late Gothic tower (1471).
Jungfrau Region Museum of Tourism
The history of Swiss tourism is represented in the Jungfrau Region Museum of Tourism.
Matten (timbered houses)
On the southeast side of Interlaken is Matten with its old timber houses.
Map of Interlaken Attractions