Home Region Brienz History
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The Alamanni settled the region that is now northern Switzerland in the 6th century. By the 7th century they had advanced into the valley of the Aare River and arrived in the area around 700. The first documented record of Brienz dates back to 1146.
The Celtic root of the place name “Briens” (brig: exalted, elevated) suggests that the area of the village called Burgstollen where the Protestant church now stands was named over two millennia ago. Until the 15th century it belonged to a barony that asserted its power against the canton of Unterwalden and the expanding Interlaken monastery for three and a half centuries.
Brienz became a part of canton Bern in 1528. It is believed that the barons had a stone-built church erected next to their fortified castle around 1140, in place of the existing timber chapel.

A church has stood on this site for almost 900 years, overlooking the village and leaving a lasting imprint on the landscape. A transportation network that meets the requirements of both tourism and trade is of existential significance – in days gone by, Brienz was accessed by boat from Bönigen at the other end of the lake. Post coaches travelled the route over the Brünig Pass until the Stansstad to Brienz steam railway was built. The railway from Interlaken to Lucerne was opened around 1915. The spoil from the tunnel construction was used to build the unique lake promenade, known as “Quai” in the vernacular.

The 1988 opening of the A8 road along the southern shore of the lake relieved Brienz from a substantial burden of through traffic. The construction of the Grand Hotel Giessbach next to the waterfalls and the Brienz Rothorn steam cogwheel railway around 1892 gave Brienz a unique touristic attraction that has not waned to this day.

The earlier inhabitants of Brienz were farmers and tradesmen. The advent of tourism heralded the rise of wood carving. The first hand-carved items were articles of daily use; later work branched out into carved furniture and sculpture. The heyday of wood carving in Brienz was around 1868, when 1065 carvers were active in the area. Modern-day Brienz offers employment in a wide range of fields.
Brienz Tourismus
Hauptstrasse 143
3855 Brienz BE
Tel. +41 (0)33 952 80 80
Fax +41 (0)33 952 80 88
Brienz - Chuch
Brienz - Brunngasse Brienz - Ballenberg
Brienz - Hofstetten Brienz - Giessbach cable car