What a place! It’s a bit of an enigma in many ways. It took us forever to find a way in by car – there are no signposts on the road leading there so we sped right past and ended up on the other side of the hill, with an infuriating glimpse of the tower just 50m away. When you finally take the right road, the only place to park is in the car park for the sports centre, with a 10 minute walk up the steep hill. In hindsight we should have gone by train (details below) as Bruno Weber Weg (the road inaugurated by the municipalities of Spreitenbach and Dietikon in 2006) leads from Dietikon Station to the site (a 30min walk or 5min bus ride)
Swiss artist Bruno Weber (1931–2011) was born in Dietikon. In 1947, he completed college in Zürich, began training as a lithographer with Orell Fuessli (Zürich) and then studied in Italy, Greece and Czechoslovakia before returning to his beloved Switzerland. He discovered his passion for sculpture after thirty years of painting. He then extended his sculpture garden (Bruno Weber Park) where his house, comprising a 25ft tower, is situated. Bruno also created the sculptural decorations on the Uetliberg mountain, including the street lamps leading to the top of Zürich plateau (Uto Kulm) and park benches, that you can enjoy now.
Bruno Weber Park covers an area of 20,000 m2 and is decorated with dozens of columns, reliefs, heads and gargoyles. A 12 m high tower at the entrance area and the estate tower were also built, forming landmarks overlooking the Limmat Valley. The Wassergarten, which opened in May 2012, is embraced by two 100 m long winged dogs (Flügelhund) forming an exciting footbridge from which you can look down on the water garden. Two dragon figures (one male and one female) also mark the entrance into the 'magic forest'. The dragon motif runs through Weber's entire work – supposedly the balance between woman and man. The dragon gate is the prototype of the so-called Drachentor sculpture that represented Switzerland at the World Expo 1992 in Seville. And Bruno became hugely influenced by Antonio Gaudi after visiting Park Güell in Barcelona, which is evident throughout the park.
The Gaudi-esque features of Weber’s back garden really are thrilling. There are unicorns, gargoyles, winged dogs, giant snails, serpents with cats heads, a finger lion (!) there are grockles and snufferwinks (what we called them anyway) and oodles of weird and unworldly characters dotted around with a host of mosaics thrown in. There is a pavilion with thousands of mosaic features, suns, moons and figures, and inside Bruno talks about his treasured work on film. I particularly loved his self-portrait and landscape scenes, which were hung without fanfare, on the walls. We loved walking through this weird and wonderful landscape and the girls were so excited when they saw the pond full of frogspawn and a line of frogs organised along the side looking right at them. (I think this is the first time I have ever seen a frog swimming!)
But there were a few really infuriating factors about this place – the ticket office is an unassuming, uninspired cabin on the left hand side, there is absolutely ‘no pik-niking’ allowed in the wooded area, despite some amazing sculptural picnic tables. There are smaller dragon bridges which you can't go on (although I admit they are probably a little hazardous for children) And there was this whole area in front of the house fenced off so we could only go halfway down the delightful little staircase at the front. The incredible house is now out of bounds (Bruno’s wife, Mariann Weber-Godo, still lives there) despite being open to the public for many years. These few things were particularly galling - especially after paying 45fr for a family ticket - the house is very much an integral part of the site.
But, despite this, my adult's stuffy viewpoint about value for money, we all had a ball – it's nice to achieve that old fashioned sense of awe and wonder - and I am certain this particular outing is one my daughters will never forget (and will probably zanily colour their view of the world for some years to come!) This outing is really pricey but it is an ‘arty’ fun experience far unlike any other I have had in Switzerland so far.
- S12 from Zurich
From Dietikon Bahnhof the park can be reached by:
- Bus 325 (Weinberg stop) with a walk of 7 mins
- Bus No: 306 with a walk of 10-15mins
- By foot, following Bruno Weber Weg, in around 30-40 minutes.
The park has been blighted by lack of finances through the years, which is evident in the groups of un-positioned, unloved sculptures dotted around here and there. And despite 20,000 visitors per year, the trustees announced its closure in August 2014 due to financial troubles. But with support, and a petition of over 15,000 signatures, it opened again eight months later (April 2015) And if the finances begin to flow the trustees have set out a longer term plan. By 2018 the infrastructure for the preservation of the park to be provided and the renovation of paths and squares will be carried out. By 2022 it is planned to open the park for overnight visits, including artificial lighting, renovation of buildings, pavilions and villa. By 2026 it is hoped that the park will have been declared as a national monument.
And I think this definitely has huge potential as a national monument. So please support it if you can!