Delémont – more reminiscences of the bishops and a look at the museum

In April 2022, I discovered charming Delémont:

  • the welcoming atmosphere with enticing shops, a small market, traditional restaurants, all mirrored in Renaissance fountains,
  • the medieval city centre with reminiscences of the Prince-Bishopric of Basel, 
  • the jurassic museum (Musée Jurassien d’Art et d’Histoire), curated with a twinkle in the eye. 

After having presented my first impressions of the welcoming atmosphere of Delémont and the Renaissance fountains, I will turn to some more reminiscences of the Prince-Bishops and to the jurassic museum. 

Have you noticed this coat of arms with the lions and the bishop’s crooks at the castle of Delémont? What does it tell us? 

It tells us who built this castle – see below…

 

Recapitulation: The map of the city centre of Delémont

This is the map of the medieval city centre of Delémont with some of its main sights.

Source: SwissMobile with my own additions

 

The château (castle) of Delémont was the summer residence of the Prince-Bishops; it is now a school

Delémont was the summer residence of the Prince-Bishops, and they lived in their castle here.

Prince-Bishop Johann Konrad II von Reinach-Hirtzbach (1705-1737) reconstructed the castle of Delémont in Baroque style (1716-1721). 

His coat of arms confirms that above the entry gate…

… and also inside the castle.

The Prince-Bishop tells us: “I am Johann Konrad von Reinach-Hirtzbach, and I have constructed this castle.”

His lions appear on some border stones marking the Prince-Bishopric of Basel.

I have come across this border stone above Ettingen (Prince-Bishopric of Basel) at the border to Hofstetten (canton of Solothurn).

Interesting to see this plastered Turk inside – the orient was a dream destination at that time, even for the catholic Prince-Bishop.

The castle is now a school. The inventive caretaker has craft skills. This is how he avoids that scooters lie around in the corridors.

In addition, he installed a self-service “lost-property office” for “objets trouvés” meaning “items found”, such as keys, caps, shoes or T-shirts. 

From the castle terrace, there is a gorgeous view of the mini Versailles garden (now very sober) and of the Jura hills surrounding Delémont.

The coat of arms of Delémont shows the hills of the Jura, just below the white bishop’s crook.

 

The church Saint Marcel – neoclassical

The church Saint Marcel was built in Neoclassical style (1762-67), under Prince-Bishop Simon-Nicolas de Monjoie-Hirsingue.

I will have to return to find his coat of arms in the church. Like other prince-bishops, Monjoie has marked his borders, for example, in the forest on the Bruderholz, between Bottmingen (then city of Basel) and Oberwil (Prince-Bishopric of Basel). 

Look for this coat of arms in the church Saint Marcel; it shows two keys and two bishop’s crooks.

The belfry, added later (1850) is slightly slanting and is called “Delémont’s leaning tower of Pisa”. 

Or should we rather say “Pisa’s leaning tower of Delémont”?

Just across the church, some tomb slabs have been reused for the sidewalk. 

Very sustainable construction.

 

The hospital that has never been a hospital

Prince-Bishop Wilhelm Jakob Rinck von Baldenstein (1693-1705) built this hospital. 

According to his opinion, it resulted to luxurious to be just a hospital. The city of Delémont gave the building to the Ursuline nuns to open a school for girls.

The hospital has never been a hospital, though the address is “Rue de l’Hôpital”.  

It is here, where the fountain with Saint Henry stands (emperor Henry II) (see the former blog about the fountains).

 

Chapelle Saint Michel in the cemetery of Delémont

Just above the Place de l’Étang, I find the chapel of Saint Michel, built in 1614, in late Gothic style mixed with Renaissance. 

It has been constructed under Prince-Bishop Wilhelm Rinck von Baldenstein (1608-1628, perhaps we can find his coat of arms here…).

Inside, the atmosphere is sober, the main decoration being the baroque altar of 1618.

 

The Musée Jurassien d’Art et d’Histoire – it is well worth a visit

The Burgenfreunde organised a short guided visit to the Musée Jurassien d’Art et d’Histoire. 

The museum has been curated with a twinkle in the eye. When the managers renovated their museum, they hired a historian, a cartoonist and a photographer and carefully rearranged the exhibits around the seven main clichés that the Jura is known for, such as “au bout du monde” (at the “end of the world”),…

Source: Claude Hauser, p. 38

… “La Tête de Moine” (the cheese from the monastery of Bellelay; alluding to the history of the catholic church and the prince-bishops),…

… “Jurassique: identités sous-sol” (Jurassic: identities under the ground referring to the geological era called “Jura”)…

… or l’heure de la décolleteuse” (hinting at the turning machines and the industrialization in the Jura canton; watches, knives “Wenger”, and even my favourite chocolate bars Ragusa are from the Jura).

Not to forget the fight of the Jura to become a canton of its own, symbolized with this new “number plate” replacing the old ones from Bern.

“79 BE” (for a bicycle) and “0000” (somewhat for a car)- two more twinkles! 

Now the Jura is a canton of its own. Until about 1800, the Jura belonged to the Prince-Bishopric of Basel. In 1815, the Congress of Vienna added it to the canton of Bern. In 1978, the Swiss citizens voted and approved the new canton Jura, making the “BE79” number plates for bicycles obsolete. 

The museum displays pieces of identity of the youngest canton of Switzerland, one of them being the fruit brandy Damassine. 

Did you know that Damasson rouge is a plum that only grows in the Jura (and adjacent France)? It makes an excellent fruit brandy! Last December, I tasted it at Saignelégier (also part of the canton Jura) after a long and chilly day of cross country skiing in the Franches Montagnes. It did warm me up and helped digest the excellent dinner we had at our hotel. 

 

I will surely visit Delémont and the museum again

The Musée Jurassien d’Art et d’Histoire is worth a visit. I intend to explore it in more detail. Furthermore, I would like to look for more coats of arms that the prince-bishops left and for more wild men holding the coats of arms of Delémont. 

And, furthermore, just enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of the charming city of Delémont. I was here for the first time, but surely not for the last time. 

 

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