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ST BERNARD DOG MUSEUM - MARTIGNY
Musee et Chiens du Saint-Bernard

The Romans had been traversing the southern Alps from Italy to the valley of the Rhone River, the Swiss Valais since ancient times. In 962, a Benedictine monk from Savoy, Bernard of Menthon, established a hospice way station monastery on the high mountain pass to serve the pilgrims braving the near perpetual ice and snow. Large dogs with thick furry coats of the Roman Mosseler breed would be used to help find and rescue travelers trapped in the snows. By the 1700s these dogs bred over the centuries came to be called the St Bernard from the hospice on the Great St Bernard Pass. The big friendly breed also known as a Swiss Alpen Mastiff of St Bernard’s has been one of the world’s most recognized and revered dog breeds.

Just to the east of the Valais Switzerland town of Martigny which lies at the valley foot of the route to the pass to the east of Mont Blanc, the St Bernard Dog Museum (Musee et Chiens du Saint-Bernard) was established in a former military warehouse by the Foundation of Bernard (no relation) and Caroline Wattville to showcase the history of the dog and its place as a cultural icon. The museum consists of both an exhibit of the history of the dog breed and a kennel for living examples.

Francois the Pilgrim St Bernard photoThe first floor of the museum presents a collection of artifacts and that tell the story of the Great St Bernard Pass and Hospice. A movie presents the story of “Francois The Pilgrim”, caught in the snow on the high pass and from whom we know the name of the breed. Images of the St Bernard from Flemish oil paintings to post cards and cartoons, present the affectionate animal in popular culture. Napoleon's crossing of the Great St Bernard Pass in the footsteps of Hannibal Napoleon at St Bernard photointo Italy is also represented. The French general and later emperor headquartered for time in a building still standing in the old town, within walking distance. The second floor of the museum presents temporary exhibitions and on the ground floor, as well as the gift shop with plenty of plush pups for the kids to take home and a restaurant, the entrance to the kennels, where the throaty bark of the real thing greets the visitor. The dogs are let out to play under supervision in the green park area behind the museum building.

Visiting the St Bernard Dog Museum

Playing with St Bernard photoAdmission to the St Bernard Museum is 10 chf for Adults, 8 chf for seniors, 6 chf for students, children under 8 are free. A family ticket is available, and if you reach Martigny by car driving through the St Bernard Pass tunnel from Italy, save your receipt and get a return passage for free. The museum is located on the Rue du Levant just next to the preserved Roman Amphitheater of Martigny and 200 yards from the Pierre Gianadda Foundation Museum (see Fondation Gianadda). The St Bernard Express railway stops about 300 yards from the museum (the first stop after departing Martigny train station). Martigny is about two hours by rail or car from Geneva. © Bargain Travel Europe

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Musee St Bernard

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SEE ALSO:

CHATEAU D’AIGLE WINE MUSEUM

SWISS CHOCOLATE TRAIN

OLYMPIC MUSEUM IN LAUSANNE

STOCKALPER CASTLE OF BRIG

ABBEY OF ST MAURICE D’AGAUNE

SKI CHAMONIX MONT BLANC