My next Swiss football trip brought me to the small town of Thun in the canton of Bern. The German speaking city of just over 40,000 inhabitants is situated where the Aare flows out of Lake Thun (Thunersee), 30 kilometres (19 miles) south of Bern.
Be careful and dont get too rowdy at night as this is a garrison town, the largest in the country. That, the armaments industry, tourism, and the food industry are what makes this town.
It has had people living on the shores of the lake going back millennia since the Neolithic age but like a lot of towns and cities, it wasn’t until the Romans arrived that things started to progress quickly. The Celts had called the town “Dunum”, meaning “fortified town”, and in 58 BC it fell to the Romans who at that time had conquered most of what we know today as Switzerland, soon making Thun one of the main centres of Roman administration in the region.
Next it was the Romans turn to get booted out. This time by the Burgundians. The who? They were a large East Germanic or Vandal tribe, or group of tribes, who lived in central/east Europe. The Romans viewed them as barbarians and (I am guessing here!) vandals. Vandals or not, they got rid of the Romans from not only Thun but also the whole of Switzerland around 400 AD.
In the 12th Century, the Burgundy Duke, Bertold V of Zähringen, built Thun castle and expanded the town. The castle, in the centre of the town, overlooks the whole town and is a major draw for tourists to the area.
But it is not only Thun Castle, with its museum, that’s an attraction, the area is surrounded by stunning views of the Bernese Alps, which include the Eiger and Jungfrau peaks, and also Lake Thun, which is popular for cruises. The town itself has kept some of its old medieval architecture and the old town has a rather unusual style, where the buildings balcony all have lovely greenery and flowers overhanging and you dont know whether to look at street level or above. Behind the old town is the Aare River which boasts numerous restaurants, cafés, and bars.
Getting the train to Thun is no problem as it has a direct line from both Basel and Bern, and Zurich (via Bern)
Thun Castle/Schloss Thun
April through to October: daily 10 am – 5 pm
November to January: every Sunday from 1 pm – 4 pm
(open daily over Christmas and end of the year festivities)
February and March: daily 1 pm – 4 pm
Address: Thun Castle, Schlossberg 1, 3600 Thun
Thun Castle (German: Schloss Thun) with its four towers, built in the 12th century, today houses the Thun Castle museum, and is a Swiss heritage site of national significance.
The medieval castle was built as an administrative castle and so was the seat of the local court and since at least the 17th century there was a prison on the castle grounds. As early as 1888, the museum opened in the castle and for a brief time the jailer was also the ticket seller and guard for the museum!
The castle’s five floors contains the Knights’ Hall, one of the few surviving halls of its type from the Middle Ages, and cultural and historic displays showing the development of the region over some 4,000 years.
The corner towers of Thun Castle provide a breathtaking view over the city of Thun, Lake Thun and of the far off mountains.
If that all gets a bit too much for you, then you can relax in the onsite restaurant or perhaps stay the night at the adjacent hotel!
Loved the castle, it is very well preserved, and it was good to climb up to the top and get a great view of the city and its surroundings. You really get a killer view from up at the top, out from the turrets. Also it has a lot of very informative displays, interesting coats of armours to look at, and if you have kids with you they would love it as they can dress up as knights and ladies and play with small wooden swords and reenact the life of the middle ages. It was excellent value for CHF10, and a good start to the day.
Address: Rathausplatz 6 , Thun 3600
First pub of the day, in the centre of the towns square, the Bistro bar. Nice frontage, in keeping with the traditional style of the city. As it was morning, few customers, ordered a beer I tried before and enjoyed in Thun, a Valaisanne Biere de Cave which was a Zwickel beer (typically a cloudy beer), but which I didn’t particularly like this time. Service was friendly and the bar looked decent inside. Was nice to rest my legs after going up and down the castle in the morning. Decent place.
McArthurs Pub Thun
Address: Marktgasse 12, Thun 3600
Next up was the Irish/Celtic style pub, McArthurs, situated in the Old Town of the city. Decent frontage and what you expect from a traditional Irish style pub, and also had a very good selection of Irish beers and ciders, Guinness, Smithwicks, Kilkenny and Bulmers on tap, which was excellent to see. But I went for another Valaisanne Biere de Cave, cause I really liked it in Thun and this time it was fine. Perhaps it was a different beer I had in the Bistro bar?
Barman was very friendly and chatty and since I was enjoying myself, I decided to order some food. Did notice on the menu that they did a British Breakfast Buffet, so it isn’t an Irish or Celtic bar then, bit annoying that, but I guess the locals wouldn’t twig that! Ordered the veggie burger with chips. Food looked good and tasted fantastic, was well done and I really loved the carrots in the burger, was a new taste for me but it was bloody good. Hats off to the chef on that.
Liked this bar, good service, friendly, nice decor and great food…….and the pint was decent too! I will even forgive it for been a plastic Oirish pub!!!
Address: Obere Hauptgasse 32, 3600 Thun
Dropped in for a quick beer. Place was nice and cool, and empty inside, as most were sitting outside. I decided to relax inside and catch my bearings. Ordered a Feldschlössen Hopfenperle, which I had enjoyed before in a can, which was lovely and cold straight from the tap, which tasted just fine on the hot day that it was, top job bar lady!
Fancy enough bar, nice interior, had some decent beers on tap, good for my quick refreshment break. Nice.
Café Zentral Bar
Address: Obere Hauptgasse 42
Last bar before I decided to head to the game, was Cafe Zentral Bar, with its perfect location on the banks of the river with excellent views. Was more like a local bar as it had a lot of, shall we say, older clientele. Bar lady was very friendly and I ordered an Eichof BrauGold. Relaxed and enjoyed my lovely beer as tourists and visitors walked by in the midday sun. Great for people watching!
Good beer, friendly service, in a very relaxed setting. If I was any more relaxed I’d be comatose.
Arena/Stadium: Stockhorn Arena, Thun
Location: Weststrasse 12, 3604 Thun
Manager: Mauro Lustrinelli
League: Swiss Super League
On the first of May, 1898, FC Thun was founded by a small group of football fans in the “Zum Sternen” restaurant on the corner Schwäbisstrasse / Marktgasse.
The club currently play in the Swiss Super League, the top division. Their home ground is the Stockhorn Arena which has a maximium capacity of 10,000. The club’s colours are red and white, representing the city’s coat of arms.
It has played in the Swiss second division for most of its history but from 2002–2008 it played in the top division, later to be relegated, but they quickly bounced back and in the 2009–10 they won promotion back again to where they have remained ever since, the Swiss Super League.
Thun have never won a Swiss football championship, but they have featured in European club football on a few occasions.
Perhaps the greatest moment in the clubs history was in the 2005/2006 season as FC Thun qualified for the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, a stage they reached after knocking out Dynamo Kiev and Malmo in the two previous rounds. They were drawn in Group B alongside Arsenal, Ajax and Sparta Prague. Despite losing to both Arsenal and Ajax home and away, by beating Prague at home, Thun managed to extend their European adventure by qualifying for the Europa league as a third place finisher in the group. Unfortunately the run ended when they were narrowly beaten 2-1 on aggregate to Hamburg. But as European debuts go, it was not bad, 12 games, with 5 wins and a few narrow loses against some pretty tough opposition. They have had three other seasons of European football, always getting by a few rounds and knocking out a relatively big name…..Palermo, Partizan Belgrade…..
One good thing to see is that Thun’s squad is, bar 3 players, made up of mostly Swiss players, which is a bit unusual in the modern game. If you look at a lot of the other Swiss squads, you get an assortment of international players in squad lists. perhaps the club does a lot with underage development, or maybe they are tight with their money?
To the game
FC Thun 0 – 1 FC Sion
23.07.2017 • Stockhorn Arena, Thun
The goal came on the 28th minute, against the run of play I must add. A quick break from midfield resulted in Kévin Constant playing a lovely swerving forward pass that beat two defenders and was placed perfectly for the Senegalese striker Moussa Konaté to rifle home. Except he didn’t as the last defender put in a great block, only for Konaté to get the rebound to make it one nil to Sion. Unlucky.
Moussa Konaté had a golden opportunity to put the game to bed for Sion in the second half, when he had the time to place it, but put it just wide of the post from outside the box. Should have at least got it on target.
Thun’s Central midfielder Dennis Hediger was sent off for a rather soft challenge on Joaquim Adao, who went down like a tonne of bricks. Bit harsh me thinks from the referee there.
Thun huffed and puffed and had a good few half chances and also hit the post late on, but that was that.
Have to say, despite losing, I was impressed with Thun as they are a team set up to attack and play half decent football (unlike Sion, from what I saw), and I can see what the manager is trying to do. Just hope they give him time as I am sure Thun will turn out to be a good team in the near future. Watch this space!
Goal of the game here
Thun was a lovely town to visit, a lot of history and I liked the set up of the traditional street with its balconies full of flowers and beautiful shrubs. Also the walk along Lake Thun was nice and the river that goes through the town, albeit it was packed with tourists and day visitors along the river banks. It was also very interesting to see people surfing along the river, something I didn’t expect to see near the centre of Thun!!
Of course the castle is a must see, that goes without saying. And I would like to return to the city someday.
As for FC Thun, found the ground a little soulless. Ok their ultras did give it a good go, but its one of those stadiums on the edge of town near no bars or pubs and that is such an effort to get to that its a pain in the hole. It was really tough to get to, the bus was direct but little info on where to get it from the bus station, so I ended up with the Sion fans on their bus to the ground. Also was a bit annoyed that a plastic bottle of water was taking off me as I entered the ground. FFS, that’s a first for me, fucking water, and me having brought a six pack into Wembley before, lol! Silly. Also frustrating was that the club shop was closed, yes fucking closed, as I went round to have a look. I always like to buy a scarf or momento of my day at the club, but no chance here. What the fuck FC Thun!! The only redeeming feature, apart from the ultras who were decent and created some good atmosphere, was that the team were generally enjoyable to watch (at least for me anyway).
Anyway onto the next ground-hop in Switzerland.