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Interlaken Castle

Justin Kauffman


Behind the Shot

Matten bei Interlaken is a small, picturesque resort town of about 4,000 people in the Bernese Oberland region of Switzerland. The village is bordered on the west by Lake Thun and on the east by Lake Brienz, and is surrounded by dense forests and mountains. To the east, a short 15-minute drive along the southern shore of Like Brienz, is the smaller village of Iseltwald. Nestled on a peninsula on the south bank of Lake Brienz, Iseltwald is popular with skiers and outdoor adventurers, and is home base for many backpackers who explore the nearby mountain trails. Iseltwald is easily recognizable, with its unique medieval structure referred to as “the castle”—a focal point and landmark for travelers passing through the region.

Matten bei Interlaken’s oldest artifacts date back to the Roman era, with settlements dating back to the 7th century. But it was not until the early 11th century that more permanent structures were erected here. Sometime in the mid 1100s, King Conrad III of Germany ordered a castle built for the Lord of Matten on the peninsula near the village of Iseltwald. At the same time, one quarter of the village was given to the Interlaken Abbey. While the castle remained relatively peaceful, the residents of the Abbey launched several raids against the surrounding regions. In 1342, nearby troops attacked and burned Iseltwaldcastle to the ground, and local villagers unsuccessfully rebelled against the Abbey. By 1528, conflicts ended when the city of Bern secularized the Abbey and annexed the region.

Today, the remains of the castle and abbey are home to a private rehabilitation hospital, closed to the public. Justin and his brother visited the area on a spring break many years ago. “We’d spent 14 days road-tripping through five or six different countries living out of a van and exploring and seeing as much as we could. We saw the castle from the road and went down to the water to get a closer look. This fisherman was just floating by and made for a great shot.”