The Prison Tower is the oldest building in Neuchatel with foundations going back to the 10th Century.
This high tower stands at the foot of Neuchatel castle.
Now, a few important bits of information
1....The walk to the top is up many steep steps, no good if you are not fit or disabled.
2....There is nobody here to let you in, just a turnstile in which you have to put a 2chf coin in the slot, so, make sure you have some coins.
3.....Car parking in this area is very hard to find.
We were lucky, a car pulled out, so we pulled in, parking solved! Then the next problem was the coin, I didn't know about it, so had to walk back to the car to see if my husband had one which he did! Ok! now I was in and climbing and climbing, passing a couple of cells that were used until 1848. Eventually, I reached the top, and it was worth it, the view was fantastic!
The return trip was down the same stairs and out the same turnstile.
If you are fit, go for a visit, it is worth it!
OPEN...1st April - 30th September 8am - 6pm
ADMISSION ....By turnstile ....2 franc coin
Driving through Neuchatel, we saw this huge, Red coloured Church. As there were car parks, we stopped the car for a look.
This Catholic Church was completely built in artificial stone and coloured red cement was added to it. I think it is the only Red Church like this I have ever seen. I was able to enter the inside and to my amazement, the red theme was carried inside the Church. It is very different, and has beautiful stained glass windows, paintings along the walls, altogether, a Church worth visiting.
It is a neo-Gothic building built between 1897 - 1906, so isn't really that old when compared with others
Surrounded by lawn, and located near the Lake, I thought this was a very impressive looking Church.
Tours of the Church...Probably best to ask the Tourist information centre as they are not very often
Temple du Bas – the Lower Temple, Protestant Temple was built in 1696. It is very nice, elegant building in the center of the old city.
There is following on the explanatory board placed on the west wall of the building, by the portal: "The growing flow of huguenot refugees, a consequence of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, made necessary to build the new temple, later named Temple du Bas.
It is a rare example of reformed architecture. The inside was greatly altered between 1973 and 1975."
Nowadays Temple du Bas is not only a place of worship, but also the music room of Neuchatel. The music room accommodates 700 to 800 people and has an excellent quality of sound.
Mimi and Jean-Louis helped us with translation. We thank them.
Plateau in front of Museum of Art and History, Esplanade Leopold-Robert – Leopold Robert Promenade, is venue of open-air sculpture exhibition. Sculptures are part of the museum Art Collection. The permanent exhibition was inaugurated on 11th of September 1994.
The underlying theme is human figure in various expressive forms in the art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Among the works are Henri Presset's: "Great Figure", Claudine Grisel's "Great Mutant Running", Anne-Dominique Junod's "The Three Columns"… and our favourites Bernhard Luginbuhl's "The Stork of the New Town" and, the newest, 2007 Gunther Forg's untitled sculpture.
Pedro helped us with translation. We thank him.
The massive Neo-Classical building of Neuchatel Hotel-de-Ville – the Town Hall was erected between 1784 and 1790 under the direction of Louis XVI’s chief architect Pierre-Adrien Paris. On the east tympanum of the Town Hall, Minerva and Liberty flank a shield bearing the arms of the Town; on the west – two winged and cloud-borne figures on either side of a similar shield symbolize Trade and Abundance.
The pillar hall of the Town Hall ground floor is a kind of passage open to the public. The bust of David de Pury (Davide de Purry), benefactor of Neuchatel can be seen in it.
Ville de Neuchatel Musee d'Art et d'Histoire – Neuchatel Museum of Art and History is housed in the beautiful edifice designed by Leo Chatelain and built in 1884. The museum treasures vast collections.
The upper floor is the exhibition place for the Art Collection. The imposing staircase, leading to the upper floor, is decorated with three huge allegorical frescoes painted between 1886 and 1896 by the local painter Leo-Paul Robert, nephew of the more famous Leopold Robert. A few of French Impressionist paintings are the minor part of the permanent art exhibition. The major – is the great collection of the 19th and the 20th century Swiss artists including Leopold Robert, Charles Gleyre, Albert Anker, Ferdinand Hodler, Giovanni Giacometti… Temporary exhibition of art, at the time of our visit to the museum, in July 2008, had been the excellent retrospective of Swiss painter Teophile Robert, son of Leo-Paul Robert.
Ground floor is venue of the other part of the museum collections, those concerning the history of the canton of Neuchatel and local decorative arts. The most noticeable are numismatic section, the marvelous clocks and the "star-exhibits" – Jaquet-Droz automata – the three Jaquet-Droz mechanical figurines created by the famous watch-maker Pierre Jaquet-Droz, his son Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz and Jean-Frederic Leschot, his chief-assistant, between 1768 and 1774.
To be continued in "Jaquet-Droz Automata"…
Tour de Diesse – the Diesse Tower, named after noble family Diesse, was built in the 10th and rebuilt in the 13th century. It was a prison and, along with the Prison Tower, a part of medieval fortification. The tower became the property of the city in 1580, and its present day appearance dates from the 18th century. As the many other old buildings in Neuchatel, for the construction of the Diesse Tower was used yellow Hauterive stone.
Nowadays it chimes the hour in Neuchatel, it houses the Art gallery and Oenotheque. Unfortunately Diesse Tower was closed at the time of our visit to Neuchatel.
Tour des Prisons – the Prison Tower is a medieval tower with the oldest parts dating back to the 10th century. It is open to the public during six months of a year and there are a few models of the town in the 15th and 18th centuries in it, as well as an old prison cell. But the most amazing thing about the Prison Tower is a view from the top of it – the top of the Prison Tower is probably the best viewpoint in Neuchatel.
The Prison Tower is open every day from April the 1st to September the 30th, from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.
On the square in front of Collegiale – the Collegiate Church there is stone carved Monument of Guillaume Farel.
The Collegiate Church was Roman Catholic Church until 1530, when Guillaume Farel had convinced Neuchatel to join the Reformation. Most often remembered for having persuaded Jean Calvin to remain in Geneva in 1536, and for persuading him to return there in 1541, after their expulsion in 1538, Guillaume Farel spent 27 years of his life, from 1538 to 1565, in Neuchatel, serving as the pastor of the Collegiate Church until his death. He was buried at the old cemetery in Neuchatel.
Monument of Guillaume Farel, artwork of Charles-Francois-Marie Iguel, was unveiled at the ceremony held on the 4th of May 1876.
Collegiale – the Collegiate Church, dedicated to the Virgin, is wonderful building made of Hauterive stone which gives it yellow colour typical for the city of Neuchatel. Almost the whole century passed between the beginning of the construction in 1185 and the consecration of the Collegiate church in 1276. That is the reason for the transition of style from Romanesque to Gothic art being noticeable.
The church was Roman Catholic Church until 1530, when Guillaume Farel had convinced Neuchatel to join the Reformation. The countess Jehanne de Hochberg of Neuchatel actually remained faithful to Rome, but she had given over the Collegiate Church to the city of Neuchatel and had contained herself with the chapel of the Castle. Guillaume Farel was pastor of the Collegiate Church for 27 years, until his death in 1565.
The last restoration of the church was undertaken between 1867 and 1870. At that time three Gothic chapels on the west side were removed and the current west facade with the main entrance was built. The north tower was also built during the same restoration process – in 1869. The cloister by the north side of the church was built in the 19th century as well. The exception are only the Romanesque arcades on the north wall of the church.
Exterior of the Collegiate Church mostly gained its appearance in 1870 when the starry sky was painted, the balustrade was restored and the organ made by E. F. Walker da Ludwigsburg was set in the north transept. The stained glasses of three apses, artwork of Clement Heaton, date back to 1905. The rose window and the north side stained glasses were made in 1936 by Theodore Delachaux while the south side stained glasses were made in 1951 by Marcel Poncet. The new organ manufactured in Chezard-Saint-Martin were set in the south transept in 1996.
The highlight of the church interior is the Monument of the Neuchatel Counts, cenotaph with fifteen near-lifesize statues of which fourteen are painted. This marvelous piece of Gothic art is the only monument of its kind outside Italy. It was ordered by Count Louis of Neuchatel in 1372, the latest figures are from about 1425, 1458 and, the only unpainted – from 1487. The cenotaph was spared by citizens of Neuchatel in 1530 – it was unimaginable for them to damage the Monument of the Neuchatel Counts.
Rue du Seyon is the longest street in Neuchatel's Old Town pedestrian zone. This vivid shopping street, although closed for private cars, is open for public transport – trolleybuses. The street is on the site where the river Seyon used to flow until the middle of the 19th century.
Rue du Seyon opens to Place Pury – Pury Square near the lake shore.
The square was named after the 18th century Neuchatel benefactor David de Pury. The Monument of David de Pury, artwork of French sculptor Pierre Jean David called David d'Angers, cast in 1848 and inaugurated on the 6th July 1855, can be seen on the square. David de Pury was responsible for the construction of several buildings – on pedestal of the statue there is the list of them – which today are part of the city's cultural heritage.
Pury Square is connected with Esplanade du Mont-Blanc – Mont-Blanc Promenade by the subway.
Name of the city of Neuchatel literally translated means "the new castle", so it is very obvious that the castle is of the great importance for the establishment and the development of the city. Besides that the castle is of the great importance for the present and the future of Neuchatel – it is not just a monument of past era and witness of the history, it is "a living castle" – the five members of the Conseil d'Etat – the canton Executive – work in it, and the 115 members of the Grand Conseil – the canton Legislative – have their meetings in it, the canton justice – Civil court and Court of assizes – holds its courts in the castle.
"A living castle" were the words of our excellent lady-guide – it is great to notice that despite the castle of Neuchatel is the working place, it is still open for the public, and the castle guided tour offers a great "travel" through the history of the castle, the city and the region. It is the shame to miss that, therefore here is the precise schedule of guided tours: April to end September, from Tuesday to Friday, 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00 hours. Saturday, Sunday, Monday and public holidays, 14.00, 15.00 and 16.00 hours. Among the most interesting of the castle interior are present day court room decorated with Coats-of-Arms of Neuchatel rulers, large room with Swiss arms, archive room, reception room (one of the recent guests in it was Francois Mitterrand)…
Foundation of the castle dates back to late 10th century. "Rudolph III of Burgundy, gave his wife Hermengarde 'Novum Castellum' as a gift in 1011. Seat of the power, the castle accommodated the lords, sometimes their mother, their widow, or their daughter…" Its today appearance is mostly from the 15th and 17th centuries, and some parts were added in the 20th century. The oldest preserved part of the castle is the west wing wall, made of Hauterive stone and decorated with beautiful carvings – it dates back to the 12th century.
Esplanade du Mont-Blanc – Mont Blanc Promenade is nicely shaped garden terrace on the shores of Lake Neuchatel. It is connected with Place Pury – Pury Square by a subway. Mont-Blanc Promenade is dominated by "Verticals", 1990 statue, artwork of Swiss sculptor Rene Kung. Besides it there are a few more artworks at the promenade, among them marvelous Jean Arp's "Torse – Chevalier" from 1959, and sculpture-painting called "Tridim", created in 1974 by Victor Vasarely.
Mont Blanc Promenade is good starting point for a walk by Nuechatel Lake to Esplanade Leopold-Robert – Leopold Robert Promenade, via Quai Ostervald – Ostervald Quay and Quai du Port – Port Quay.
Maison des Halles – the Covered Market dominates Place des Halles – the Market Square, the most vivid, the most photographed and the most recognizable square in Neuchatel. It was originally built as a grain and cloth market between 1569 and 1575. This charming building, adorned with wealth of Renaissance ornamentation carved in yellow Hauterive stone, was designed by Laurent Perroud who designed and carved Fontaine de la Justice – the Justice Fountain and Fontaine du Banneret – the Banneret Fountain.
The Covered Market has been converted into a restaurant nowadays.
Place des Halles – the Market Square is the most vivid square in Neuchatel. Framed by fine 18th century housefront, this cosy square has purpose for which it had got its name – it is the real market square on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings. Besides that there are several the very popular restaurants on it as well as the fountain, first constructed in the 17th and finally shaped in the late 19th century.
The Market Square is dominated by the beautiful edifice of Maison des Halles – the Covered Market, built between 1569 and 1575.
The Market Square is one of the nicest places in Neuchatel and surely the most photographed and the most recognizable one.