The area of what is now Thun was inhabited since the Neolithic age (mid-3rd millennium BC). The name of the city derives from the Celtic term Dunum, meaning "fortified city". It fell to Rome in 58 BC, when Roman legions conquered almost all Switzerland, and soon became one of the main centres of Roman administration in the region.
The Romans were driven out of Thun, and out of the rest of Switzerland, by the Burgundians around 400 AD. The Aar became the frontier between the Christian Burgundians and the Pagan, German-speaking Alemanni, who lived north. Thun was mentioned for the first time during the 7th century, in the chronicle of Frankish monk Fredgar.
The region of Thun became a part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1033, when Conrad II gained the title of King of Burgundy. The emperors entrusted the Zähringen family, centred in Bern, to subdue the unruly nobles of central Switzerland. Around 1190 Duke Bertold V of Zähringen, built a castle in Thun and expanded the city. After Bertold's death in 1218, his territories went to Ulrich III von Kyburg.
In 1264 Thun received state rights and in 1384 the town was bought by the canton of Bern. Thun was the capital of the Oberland canton of the Helvetic Republic.
In 1819 a military school was founded in the city, which later developed in the main military school in Switzerland. Thun was connected to the railway network of Switzerland in 1859 and telephone access was made available in 1888.
Thun is located just outside the Berne metropolitan area and is served by its suburban trains: the S1 of the Berne S-Bahn operates from Berne to Thun in 30 min, and the S4+S44 lines in 40 min (via Belp). A quicker way are intercity trains from Berne (17 min). It is also possible to take the S1 from the southwestern Bernese suburbs and Fribourg and the S4/S44 from Belp, where connection to Berne airport is available by bus. In addition non-S-Bahn suburban trains (designated R or RE) operate from Thun to Hasle-Rüegsau through the eastern Bernese suburbs (the RE trains continue to Solothurn in the northern metropolitan area, making limited stops Thun - Hasle-Rüegsau). IC trains from the canton Valais, Interlaken, Zürich, Basel and a few ICE trains from Frankfurt stop at Thun.
For more information:
- Swiss Federal Railway, ☏ (Fr. 1.19/min). Provides a useful on-line travel planner which includes information about local bus and tram services as well as rail services and can plan your journey from door to door.
- Swiss travel System. A great source of information for finding the best ticket as a tourist. It is a must to visit, as regular, full fare tickets are expensive. This site tells you what is the best option for your needs.
Thun isn't that big, and you can reach most places by a short walk. Ask the Tourist Information at the railway station for a map. A historical walking path through Thun can be found on the Tourism Department's web site .
Thun has an efficient and expansive local bus system, with many convenient stops. The STI brings you all around the city and into neighbouring communities. Ask at the office in front of the railway station for timetables, or check the STI web site.
- 1 Muehleplatz.
- 2 Thun Castle, Schlossberg 1, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Feb. and March: daily 13:00-16:00, April through October: daily 10:00-17:00, November through January: Su 13:00-16:00. Built by the Dukes of Zähringen at the beginning of the 12th century, the medieval castle above the town of Thun is a prominent eye catcher at the entrance to the Bernese Highland Region. It contains one of the best conserved representation halls of the Middle Ages in Europe, the castle tower (the Knight's Hall), located in the almost unaltered dungeon. The corner towers allow for a beautiful view of the Alps, Lake Thun, and the city. The castle also houses the historic museum, which features a regional history and special exhibits on different cultural-historical and current topics. Adults Fr. 10; seniors, students, apprentices, military, and groups of more than 10 persons Fr. 8; family pass Fr. 20.
- 3 Kunstmuseum Thun, Hofstettenstrasse 14, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, W until 21:00. The Kunstmuseum Thun in the former Grand Hotel Thunerhof housed the collection of the city of Thun since 1949. In five to six large exhibitions per year important international and national trends of contemporary art are shown. Solo exhibition by famous artists like Christian Marclay or Mark Grotjahn, the first large-scale retrospective exhibition of works by the artist sisters Claudia & Julia Müller ort he daring project "Cadeaux diplomatiques" of Gianni Motti and Christoph Büchel made the Kunstmuseum Thun an important place. Next to theme-related exhibitions as "Gesellschaftsbilder / Images of Society" or "Choosing my Religion" the museum focuses on the dialogue between the art of the past and of the present in an annual exhibition of the collection.
The collection embraces important minor masters, classical modern Swiss art, a large number of Swiss pop art works, and works by all the renowned artists of the region. It is being constantly extended by works of contemporary Swiss art. Among the artists represented in the collection are: Cuno Amiet, Ferdinand Hodler, Paul Klee, Franz Gertsch, Balthasar Burkhard, Claudia & Julia Müller, Chantal Michel and Shirana Shabhazi.
The project room "enter" is a special platform for young innovative art. The small exhibitions held there offer scope for artistic experimentation and exciting insight into current, not yet fully formulated positions in art.
The team of the art education offers workshops for children and young people, projects involving artist and on the Family Sunday a summer festival that includes different generations.
The Kunstmuseum has a shop and café Thunerhof, The terrace of the former Grand Hotel is a great attraction where one can enjoy coffee and cake against the impressive backdrop of the Bernese Oberland. Fr. 8/ 6, Children up to age 12 and school classes are free.
- 4 Schadau Castle, Seestrasse 45, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su from 10:00; May–October: closed M; November–April: closed M and Tu, February: closed. Built between 1847 and 1854, Schadau Castle is one of the most architecturally important and beautiful castles in Switzerland. Both its interior and exterior are listed with the heritage association. Visit the Schadau Park nearby and enjoy the Wocher Panorama and the views of the Alps and the lake while lounging in the grass.
- It features Swiss Gastronomy museum.
- 5 Wocher Panorama, Seestrasse 45 (Bus #1, stop Scherzligen/Schadau), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Summer, Tu-Su 11:00-17:00. For groups by appointment all year. The Wocher Panorama in Schadaupark is a part of the Kunstmuseum Thun. This depiction of a small town around 1810 was painted by the artist Marquard Wocher on a roof in the centre of the old town of Thun. The unusual perspective still allows the viewer an intimate view into living-rooms, classrooms and narrow streets. The Thun Panorama is not only the first of its kind in Switzerland and the oldest preserved large-scale panorama in the world, it is also a valuable example of an early nineteenth century mass medium which enjoyed considerable popularity.
The artist always had a particular preference for the Bernese Oberland, whose marvellous mountains, mirrored in the blue of its lakes, have been a revelation for many. Wocher painted his panorama between 1809 and 1814. It was first shown in Basel and after the artist's death it was presented to Thun as a gift. The painting was forgotten until it has been possible to restore the work thanks to the efforts of the Eidgenössische Gottfried-Keller-Stiftung. It has been accessible to the public since 1961 in a specially constructed round building in Schadaupark. The panorama is an important artistic an historical document of the city of Thun, showing a view from the quays along the river Aare to Niesen, Blüemslialp, and Jungfrau peaks and back to the caste. Fr. 8/7, Children up to age 12 and school classes free.
- 6 Steam train Vaporama Schadaupark, Seestrasse 45. Swiss steam train museum.
- Shopping in the Bälliz-Street/Obere Hauptgasse
- Have a swim in the Aare River or Lake Thun. If you are there in summer, you should visit the "Strandbad Thun"; you can swim in the lake and have a beautiful view of the Niederhorn, Niesen, Stockhorn and Jungfrau peaks
- Have a drink on the Muehleplatz
- Take an acrobatic flight in a 1930s Swiss military biplane, based at the Thun Airfield: 
- Go sailing or surfing (Sailing, Surfing)
- Rent a bike for free with ThunRollt and ride along the River or Lake (the ride is particularly nice in the direction of Hünibach)
- Arts Restaurant Schadau. High-end gastronomy in a Loire-style castle, but a tad expensive. Impressive view of the Lake and the Bernese Alps.
- Freienhof. High-end gastronomy and bar in a more modern setting.
- Rössli Berntor, ☏ . Untere Hauptgasse 32. Informal restaurant with a mix of Swiss, Italian and Mexican cuisine. Reasonable prices and huge portions.
- Häxä-Chessu, Allmendstrasse 172, ☏ . Excellent service, authentic local food that's quite inexpensive. Horse meat steaks are on the menu, along with the more traditional rösti, raclette, and gemischter salat (mixed salad). Beer on tap, along with a full bar. It's a bit out of the way, but worth it. Get there by taking the #6 bus from the center.
- El Camino, Muehleplatz, ☏ . Very nice place at the beautiful Aare river. It's where young and active people (a lot of boardriders, mountain-bikers, etc.) meet for early-evening drinks or bigger parties with live-gigs and local DJs.
- Cafe Mokka, Allmendstrasse 14, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A popular culture club with a lot of alternative live music from punk over electro to reggae. There are always good vibes, people of different cultures and nice music.
- 1 Freienhof, Freienhofgasse 3, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:30. 4-star hotel, 200 m to the city centre and 350 m to the railway station. The hotel is on the island on the Aare river. single/double from Fr. 130/155 (rates 2015).
The Aare is a strong river. It can be very dangerous to swim in it; you need skill and background to do it safely. For the first time, go to the "Schwäbis-Bad". It is organised, has guards, and the cost is very affordable.