Switzerland is famous for a few things; cheese, chocolate and watches! Let’s just say, we are no experts on cheese or chocolate but we certainly know how to enjoy and appreciate them. What we don’t know too much about: watch-making.
La Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Locle exist because of watches and they owe it probably to some clever town planning from the 19th Century.
Up in the Espacite Tower (which the locals deem an eye-sore – it is rather out of place), we get an almost 360-degree view over the Old Town of La Chaux-de-Fonds and what we see resembles almost a life-sized Lego town (or a row of houses on a Monopoly board). This is how architects turned the art of watch-making into an industry.
The buildings are neatly lined up in parallel rows in a grid formation with wide streets between each row. If you look carefully, there are unusually a lot of windows on the sides of the buildings, spaced quite closely together.
And what was the purpose for this design?
To allow maximum natural light to flood through the windows, especially into the top floors of the buildings so watch-makers could work with the tiny mechanics of watches. Light is of the essence here!
Each building would have watch-makers who specialise in a particular component of the watch and when the part was assembled, there would be young runners that would take that part to the next appropriate building for the subsequent part to be assembled/added. This process continued until the watch was complete.
And why the wider streets?
During winter, being 1000 metres up in the Jura mountains, it snowed a lot. To ensure the continuity of watch manufacturing, historically, the streets needed to be manually shovelled so that the runners could continue to access all the buildings.
After exploring the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, we had the time (no pun intended) to visit Le Locle Watchmaking Museum, which is in Chateau des Monts. The museum has on display an extraordinary collection of clocks, mechanics and exhibits of the art and science of time, in particular, time-keeping!
The collection was so extensive, we were just in awe. To see all the different devices from around the world through history that essentially do what our wristwatches do every second, every minute of every day. We surprised ourselves with how fascinated we found time-keeping, we even wanted to buy a grandfather clock for our apartment 🙂 .
After this unique visit to the two towns, we certainly will be looking at clocks and watches in a different light. This is one of the reasons we love travelling so much, it is these types of places that we get to visit that enlightens us, resulting in us having a greater appreciation for the little things in life we sometimes take for granted.
La Chaux-de-Fonds/Le Locle, watchmaking town
planning was listed as a
UNESCO Heritage site in 2009.
To see the other UNESCO sites we have visited,
visit our unofficial bucket list
Your comments are always welcomed.
Recently while in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic, we visited the Marionette Museum. Looking at all the different puppets on display, this entire room is full of texture.
For other interpretations of texture, visit The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge
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Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
To see every piece of artwork in the Hermitage in one visit is impossible. Apparently to look at every piece (of the 3 million collection) for 30 seconds each, would take up to 9 years. We did not have that much time on this trip!
Russian Empress Catherine the Great founded the Hermitage in 1764 when she purchased masterpieces from Western Europe. The museum has 4 of its 6 buildings open to the public; Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage and New Hermitage.
As we walk through the rooms and hallways, the opulent lifestyles of the Russian past smacks us in the face! But in saying that, the lavish and exquisite interior of the museum is the perfect home for the masterpieces.
Considering that we would not be able to see every single piece in our one visit, there are a few must-sees in the collection. And the beauty of what we saw is simply worth sharing. The first several are masterpieces of Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Van Gogh.
Hermitage is closed on Mondays. It also can get very busy and we heard pickpockets use the opportunity to pounce so be sure to keep an eye closely on handbags and wallets. Also remember, backpacks are not allowed in the museum.
For photos of our trip to Russia, see our Facebook page.
Have you visited the Hermitage? What did you think?
We went for a completely different type of walk this weekend – we visited three museums in Sydney that we hadn’t been to in a while.
Stop 1 – Sydney Jewish Museum
On the first Sunday of every month, entrance is free! So we were lucky to be there on June 1 🙂 There was an Anne Frank exhibit on, which reminded us of our time in Amsterdam visiting Anne Frank’s House. Walking through the museum is simply so moving, such a harsh reminder of the atrocities of the Holocaust and how war is good for no one.
Stop 2 – Art Gallery NSW
Entrance is always free except if you want to see the special exhibits and it is quite easy to lose a few hours wondering around in there. Our favourite rooms are the European art rooms on the main entrance level, makes us excited to be returning to Europe in July to explore the art galleries there once more 🙂
Stop 3 – Government House via Royal Botanical Gardens
It is one of the living museums of Sydney and a guided tour of the inside is available on Fridays through Sundays. The entrance is free and the tour guides are volunteers who share so much interesting information. We learnt about Government House and facts of the history of Sydney that we hadn’t (or don’t recall) learning at school!
It was a side of Sydney that we figured is listed in “Travel Guides” that we ourselves haven’t truly seen. So we played “tourists” in our own city. We were not disappointed!
To add to the distance we walked, we stumbled across the Wishing Tree in the Botanical Gardens. We made our wish and being superstitious we completed the ritual, getting ourselves dizzy circling the tree 🙂