Oberhofen, BE show Website
Oberhofen Castle – on the shores of Lake Thun
The romantic castle complex with its medieval keep is located on the shores of Lake Thun, surrounded by the marvellous panorama of the Bernese Alps. The vast park with its grand castle gardens is counted amongst the most beautiful in the Alpine region and is an ideal place for visitors to enjoy a relaxing day. The castle is home to a museum where visitors can explore the castle's rooms and discover traces of its former inhabitants. Special exhibitions shed more light on different aspects of the castle's history.
A magical eight centuries
Oberhofen Castle is an icon on Lake Thun. The castle complex which has grown to its current size over eight centuries and its keep are visible from the boats passing by. The sprawling park along the lake provides a fitting framework for the town's most famous landmark. Since 2013 the castle restaurant with its terrace has invited visitors to stay and enjoy a nice meal.
From a moated castle to a count's summer residence
Oberhofen castle was originally a water castle surrounded by a moat and a wall. Bevor the castle was taken over by the Habsburg family, it belonged to the family von Eschenbach. After the Battle of Sempach in 1386 the castle became part of the Bernese holdings in the region. It was later acquired by one oft he most famous Bernese patrician families, the von Scharnachthals. When the last line of the von Scharnachthal family went died out, Oberhofen Castle was inherited by the four von Erlach brothers. Finally the castle was acquired by Franz Ludwig von Erlach (1575-1651), who also owned Spiez Castle and Schadau Castle in Thun. After he passed away, a Bernese bailiwik was established in Oberhofen and until 1798 the Bernese bailifs would reside in Oberhofen castle. Count Albert de Pourtales bought the castle in 1844 and turned it into a summer residence for his family.
The castle as a museum
William Maul Measy, an American lawyer and the castle's last private owner bought Oberhofen Castle in 1925 and resided there until the late 1950s. He set up a trust ensuring that the castle would be taken over by the "Bernisches Historisches Museum" in 1952. Furnished with original pieces the castle opened its doors to the public in 1954. Since its separation from the "Bernisches Historisches Museum" in 2009 it has been part of the Oberhofen Castle Trust.
The oriental smoking parlour
The eventful history of ownership has left its mark on the architecture and interior design. Albert de Pourtales carried out a far-reaching conversion. The oriental smoking room, which was installed at the top of the tower in 1855 according to the plans of a Bernese architect, also goes back to his initiative. In this way, a piece of the Orient has come to Oberhofen in a unique way.
The dining room in the style of historicism bears witness to the count's life that took place in the castle. The room can be hired for weddings or private functions.
Particularly worthy of mention is the chapel, which is decorated with frescoes from the 15th century. It can be rented for weddings and baptisms. The garden hall with direct access to the castle terrace can also be rented out to celebrate festivities in a dignified setting.
Without domestic servants, the life of the Pourtalès-Harrach family of counts, who inhabited the castle in the 19th century, would have been inconceivable. Anyone who enters the rooms of the servants' wing, which was previously inaccessible, is immersed in an unknown history. The permanent exhibition "Always at your service" takes a look at the world of the servants and lets the public participate in situations that took place in the corridors and behind the doors. Since 2021, the castle kitchen has been open to the public for the first time. Newly staged to complement the existing exhibition "Always at your service", it shows a domestic servant's workplace and how a kitchen functioned in the transition from the 19th to the 20th century. There is a variety of kitchen utensils to discover, which are sure to evoke memories of earlier times.
Until 2023, rooms in which the countesses lived will be restored and prepared for future exhibitions. Stagings are planned that will show the life of the noble family in a broader context.
The castle as a meeting place
A varied calendar of events appeals to different target groups with guided tours, theme days, concerts, crime nights, summer festivals, theatre and open-air cinema. There are special programmes for young audiences, such as the Knight's Trail, which is also offered at Thun and Spiez castles. A tree gallery has been opened in the park, drawing attention to special features of 17 selected trees. The restaurant with panorama window and terrace directly on the lake spoils guests with regional delicacies.
Castle Museum: 14 May to 29 October 2023
Castle park and lakeside path: March to mid-December
Adults: CHF 12.-
Adults reduced (IV, students, groups of 10 or more, regional guest cards): CHF 10.-
Children (6-16 years): CHF 5.- | Children under 6 years free of charge
Family ticket A (1 adult with up to 4 children under 16): CHF 20.-
Family ticket B (2 adults with up to 4 children under 16): CHF 30.-
Schlössercard (admission to the 5 thunerseeSCHLöSSER): from CHF 35.-
Free with Swiss Museum Pass, Oberhofner Museum Pass, Schlössercard, Raiffeisen Card (MemberPlus), Swiss Travel Pass, ICOM, Kulturlegi, for members of the Castle Society
Playground in front of the castle and in the park.
Park with gravel path (no steps), castle: only ground floor wheelchair accessible, restaurant (incl. toilets) wheelchair accessible.
Free access in the park. Dogs are not allowed in the castle and park (except guide dogs). However, dogs are welcome in the restaurant.
Approach by car
Motorway A1 Zurich/Bern, continue in the direction of A6 Bern/Interlaken. Then leave the motorway at Thun-Nord and drive via Thun Zentrum in the direction of Gunten/Interlaken.
There is public, pay-and-display parking in front of the castle gates, a multi-storey car park is 300m away. There is another public car park 100m further on.
Arrival by public transport
From Thun railway station:
By bus no. 21 (Interlaken/Oberhofen) or bus no. 25 (express Sigriswil), bus stop Oberhofen Dorf.
By boat to Oberhofen, landing stage next to the castle.
Hiking (including the Way of St. James), sailing, swimming (open-air and indoor pools in Oberhofen)
- Hotel Bellevue au Lac, Hilterfingen
- Parkhotel, Gunten
- Hotel Schloss Schadau, Thun
- Hotel SALZANO, Unterseen