Bönigen-Iseltwald - local colour on the shores of Lake Brienz


The name Bönigen comes from the Old High German and is composed of the personal name Bono and the toponymic suffix -ingun (“people of”); so, translated, Bönigen means “of the people of the Bono clan” and marks a relationship of ownership (see Wikipedia).
The village is first mentioned in Jahr 1261 as villa Boningen (see Historical Dictionary of Switzerland).
At first the only means of transport were gondolas on the lake and horse-drawn carts to Interlaken. The 1830s saw the arrival of the first steamship on Lake Brienz, a matter of even greater amazement to the locals than the arrival of the first swans in 1776. Then, in 1874, the first train of the Bödelibahn railway pulled into Bönigen.

Source: Information leaflet How Bönigen became a resort, published by the Bönigen tourist association, local association and municipality

Once it became integrated into the international transport network in 1874, Bönigen’s prosperity as a holiday resort was assured. Indeed, Bönigen has been a popular resort and weekend excursion destination ever since, as illustrated by many an advertising brochure from a byone age. “Charming and lovely, a small idyll, Bönigen lies on the right bank of the Lütschine…” is how Bönigen was marketed as a resort by early copywriters in the first advertising campaigns in 1890. Until 1870 Bönigen was sought out as a destination mainly by lone travellers. From 1880 onwards more and more families began to arrive in Bönigen for their summer vacation, in seach of rest and relaxation, distraction and dissipation, and the beauty of the landscape and the natural setting. After the end of war Bönigen was promoted as a health resort. The brochures published in 1937 refer for the first time to Bönigen’s ancient tradition of woodcarving.

Source: Climatic Spa Resort brochure, Bönigen on Lake Brienz and Bönigen Suisse, Bernese Oberland

So who were the people, the families who travelled to Bönigen in its heyday to spend their summer break, which usually lasted one to six weeks? One explanation that still holds true today, more than one hundred years later, was recorded by Herrmann Hartmann (1865-1932): “Bönigen therefore owes its emergence as a health resort to the abundance of interest in Interlaken, and even today it is that proximity to Interlaken which affords it its significance, with guests who seek the proximity of the thrilling impulses of a spa resort of world renown able to do so at a remove, here in one of the many favourite spots of its kind in the Bernese Oberland.”

Excerpt from an Interlaken Guest List, 4 July 1915
Bönigen-Iseltwald Tourismus
Seestrasse 6
3806 Bönigen
Tel. +41 (0)33 822 29 58
Fax +41 (0)33 823 40 51
History Bönigen
History Bönigen History Bönigen
Photo source: from the collection of Bönigen postcards owned by Bernhard Michel