Neuchatel Tourist Attractions
Neuchâtel (German Neuenburg), capital of the canton of the same name, lies on the north shore of the Lac de Neuchâtel (Neuenburger See), below the Jura mountains.
It is the seat of a University and has a Commercial College and the Swiss Watchmaking Research Laboratory. The public buildings are mainly on the shores of the lake around the harbor; the residential districts, with their houses of yellow Jurassic limestone, rise above the lake on the foothills of the Chaumont, surrounded by parks.The town first appears in the records in 1011 under the name of Novum Castellum, and in the course of the 11th C. it became part of the Holy Roman Empire. Thereafter it changed hands several times. The Counts of Neuchâtel gave place to the Counts of Freiburg im Breisgau, who in turn were succeeded by the Counts of Hochberg. From 1504 to 1707 the town belonged to the Dukes of Orléans-Longueville, and then passed to the Crown of Prussia. In 1848 a federal and republican constitution came into force, and in 1875 King William IV of Prussia renounced his claim to Neuchâtel. During the 18th C. the town developed into a commercial and industrial center (watch-making, fabric printing) and in 1815 it became the cantonal capital.
Motorboats ply between Neuchâtel and the other towns along Lake Neuchâtel. The trip around the three lakes (Lac de neuchâtel, Bieler See and Murtensee) is highly recommended.
Collège Latin (municipal library)
On the long quays which extend on either side of Neuchâtel's harbor are a series of fine late 19th C. buildings. In Place du Port is the Post Office and in Place Nume Droz (to the south) the Collège Latin (1835), with the Municipal Library.
Museum of Art and History
Collections of the art and history of the Neuchâtel region, including works by artists: Giacometti; Corot; Bonnard; Degas; Marquet; Pissarro; Renoir; and Sisley. The museum offers ceramic, toy, gold and furniture exhibits. Complete French Revolutionary weapons and uniforms plus the famous automatons of Jaquet-Droz and Leschot can be seen. Seasonal harpsichord demonstrations are available.
University and Library
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) memorabilia is housed in the Neuchâtel library including correspondence, portraits, engravings and paintings.
Faubourg de l'Hôpital
To the north of the Jardin Anglais in Neuchâtel lies a select part of the town, the Faubourg de l'Hôpital, with handsome 18th C. patrician houses, including the Hôtel du Peyrou (1764-70; beautiful garden), which is now used for receptions and banquets, and the Grande Rochette (1730; private property).
Natural History Museum
The Musée d'Histoire Naturelle (Natural History Museum) has departments of zoology, mineralogy and geology and 200 species of animals set in 120 dioramas.
Address: Rue des Terreaux-Nord 14, CH-2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Opening hours: 10am-6pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee in CHF: Adult CHF6.00, Students CHF3.00, Child 16 & under FREE
Useful tips: Admission is free on Wednesdays.
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
Old Town (Town Hall)
Neuchâtel's Old Town lies northwest of the harbor, rising up the hillside towards the Château. On its east side are the Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville; 1784-90), with a pillared portico, and the Theater (1775). The main street, Rue de Seyon, occupies the bed of a stream which was diverted in 1844. Side streets on the left lead to the elegant Renaissance Market Hall (Maison des Halles, 1570-75).There are a number of fine 16th and 17th C. fountains: the Banner Carrier fountain (1584), the Griffin fountain (1664), the Justice Fountain (1547) and the Lion fountain (1655; the lion itself 1664).
From Rue de Château a stepped lane and a street lead up to the château, which belonged to the Counts and Princes of Neuchâtel and is now occupied by cantonal government offices. The west wing dates from the 12th C., the remainder from the 15th to the 17th C.; the interior has undergone much alteration.
Neuchâtel's Collegiate church was built in the 12th-13th C. (west towers 1867-75). Until 1530, when it was taken over by the Reformed faith, it was the Catholic Collégiale Notre-Dame.On the north side of the church is a Romanesque cloister (restored). Outside the west front of the church stands a statue of the Reformer Guillaume Farel (1489-1565); from the terrace there are extensive views.
Monument of the Counts of Neuchâtel
In the very dark Romanesque choir of Neuchâtel's Collegiate Church is the monument of the Counts of Neuchâtel (1372). It has 15 painted effigies and is the finest Gothic memorial in the whole of Switzerland.
Cret du Plan (funicular)
From Rue de l'Ecluse, on the edge of Neuchâtel's old town, a funicular ascends to the Cret du Plan (598 m/1,962ft), from which there are extensive views of the lake and the Alps.
Lake Neuchâtel - Boat Excursions
This annual three-day festival takes place in late September and includes a street parade, food stalls and processions of residents in traditional costumes.
Neuchâtel Canton - Folklore Festival
This annual folk dance festival takes place in late August and usually lasts three days.
Map of Neuchatel Attractions