Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bern and its mutant bears

An old bear-emblem, pre-ninja era
Bern, the capital of Switzerland is known for its bears. Has been known for its bears for centuries, in fact. It was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke von Zähringen. 1193 it suffered a meteorite impact. Said meteorite had an unusually high concentration of Cobalt-60, and as a consequence the local bears mutated, becoming hyper-intelligent tool-users. They proliferated in the fertile lands around Bern, and several skirmishes (also known as Bärenchriege) were fought over the next years. Eventually Bern fell in 1218, with the Berthold V. suffering a gruesome death at the claws of the enraged bears, being torn apart atop the Zytglogge, the famous clock-tower of Bern. Berthold V. having no heirs to continue the war, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II had no choice but to leave the bears in control, declaring Bern a free imperial city.

The Zytglogge, where Berthold V. met his end

The bears joined the Swiss Confederacy in 1353, and stayed in power in Bern until being occupied by French troops in 1798, during the French Revolutionary wars. The bears vanished from public live. How and when they managed to contact the Tokugawa shogunate is hotly disputed by scholars, but it is clear that when they reappeared in 1848, they had been trained extensively as ninjas. The bears, now hyper-intelligent mutant ninja bears showed no inclination of retaking the reins of power, even though they certainly would have been capable of it. Instead, the seemed content to hang out in the Bärengraben, vanishing from it from time to time to conduct secret missions and assassinations, an activity they have continued to this day.

View of the Münster and Bern, from the Bärengraben

I personally nearly met my end on the hands of a slightly myopic ninja bear, who afterwards apologized profusely for mistaking me for his target, before leaping onto the rooftops and vanishing.

It was shear chance that the bear noticed I was not his target, a split-second before tearing out my throat.

Apart from these rare, unfortunate incidents, Bern is a very safe city for tourists, and the "Bärenlugen", trying to spot one of the illusive ninja bears in one of their many disguises, or on one of their clandestine missions, is a popular national past-time. Everything and everyone can be a bear, in Bern.

Depicted: A bear in disguise, emerging from his cave in spring.


  1. Posts like this make me wonder what they put in European coffee.

  2. Only the good stuff ;) and caffeine. Loads of caffeine. I think I'll have another, yay!