It was a beautifully sunny winter day when we decided to visit another Swiss town we had not gone around yet. It’s Neuchatel this time.
Neuchatel is one of the cantons in the French side of Switzerland. Its city is located in the northwestern shore of Lake of Neuchatel and near at the foot of Jura valley. Neuchatel is also renowned for its Swiss watchmaking industry, centered on Le Locle and La Chaux-de-Fonds situated in the Jura mountains, which have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Our stroll at Neuchatel started on an uphill walk at the side of the old town’s fortification. Crossing the footbridge from a small hall, we reached the Collegiate Church of Neuchatel. This cathedral has a noticeable mix Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles, mainly because it was built for over a century when transition of style from Romanesque to Gothic occurred. The church is also the home to the Monument of the Counts where 15 life-sized statues of known Neuchatel counts can be found.
In front of the cathedral is the monument of Guillaume Farel who served as the pastor of the collegiate church until his death for 27 years. Actually, Farel is more known as an influential Reformist who convinced Neuchatel to join the Reformation and asked Jean Calvin to help reform the church in Geneva.
At the top of this hill, you’ll already get a nice top view of the city of Neuchatel.
Right beside the cathedral is the old castle of Neuchatel, which now houses the canton’s parliament. An early settlement dating back 13,000 BC had already existed, but it was only in the 11th century that this castle was built. The city’s name must have been derived from an assumption that this castle replaced an older one – hence the French words neuf meaning new and chateau meaning castle, adjoined together to hold the town’s present name.
Centuries-old yellow sandstone building and narrow cobblestone streets awaited us as we went down along Rue du Chateau.
Nowadays the tower houses an art gallery and oenotheque, but long time ago, it used to be a prison tower. Tour de Diesse is the tower named after the noble family Diesse.
In front of this tower is the Hall of Justice, and in between is the pretty Fountain de la Justice.
Statues of soldiers bearing arms and the coats of arms and flags of the canton and the city of Neuchatel seem to be found in almost every corner. Oh, the other photo at your righthand-side you’d find the Maison des Halles, a charming building that was originally built as a grain and cloth market. Now, it’s the centerpiece in the most photographed and recognizable market square in Neuchatel.
Right across the old town proper is the Lake of Neuchatel.
We passed by Neuchatel’s Museum of Art and History. Going further, we also came by the city’s schools and university, and its football stadium.
At first I thought that Lake Geneva is the largest lake in the entire region of Switzerland. With a surface of over 200 square kilometers, Lake Neuchatel is apparently the largest in the country. The lake lies mainly on the canton of Neuchatel, but it is also shared by Vaud, Fribourg and Bern.