My older teenage son (16) and I went to Ballenberg while my younger son and husband opted to go on another hike. So glad we did! Ballenberg is an amazing museum unlike anything I've seen before. It makes similar museums look like outdated, artificial tourist traps. It's a huge site (would take hours to take it all in) that is divided by five or six regions of Switzerland. Each region has hundreds of mostly real and very few reconstructed buildings that date as far back as the 1500s to the 1800s. What makes Ballenberg so special is not only that every building and its exteriors are so carefully displayed with period furniture and household items. It's as if the inhabitants are away for the day: gardens are carefully tended with vegetables of all varieties in full bloom; livestock roam in pens - chickens, roosters, cows, pigs, etc.; geese wander around small ponds; etc. There are no tacky kiosks, no ropes or "walk this way" carpets to keep you from wandering freely through the homes and farms. You feel as if you're strolling through time.
Both my son and I left Ballenberg with a sense of what it was like to live and work in Switzerland over the last 500 years. And based on the care that has been taken to create Ballenberg, it's also impossible to leave there without also realizing and appreciating how much the Swiss treasure their heritage.
From Interlaken, it takes about 45 minutes to get there (short train and bus ride, but easy to find). Allow at least 2 hours and more if you have it. We only two hours there and toured two regions. Wish we'd had more time.
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