Expatriates hate the constant noise of cowbells and churchbells in Switzerland

A forum for English speaking people living in Switzerland currently runs a few discussions about church bell- and cowbell noise.

First, this photo (from Trogen, Switzerland) speaks more than a thousand church bell chimes:

CowbellsAre cowbells a cruelty to animals?

One particularly interesting post:

The church bells are managed by the community (in other words they have the power to stop them), but the federal court made a ruling that should people within a certain distance complain, the communities are obliged to act and stop the bells during the night. They court upheld that the concept of "Nachtruhe" (silence during the night) is a long standing tradition in Switzerland that take precedence of any tradition of bell-ringing.

The communities tried to fight it, but the federal court made a second ruling underscoring the first. So the bottom line is that the communities can’t get away with it if people fight it – but they somehow manage to bury it and the bells keep ringing.

Note to anyone thinking of moving to Switzerland: When you look for an apartment ALWAYS check the location of the nearest church and make sure you wait around long enough to hear the bells – ask yourself if that is a volume you could tolerate.

Remember that even if you think the time chimes on the hour, quarter, half and three quarter hour are acceptable, that at certain times like 7am, they will ring all the bells constantly for an extended period.

Excellent advice to always check the location of the churches nearby! Otherwise you might get a very unpleasant surprise after moving in to your new flat. It is also important to be aware of the fact that in many villages and cities in Switzerland the bells ring for extended periods many times a dayin addition to the so called ‘Zeitschlag’ (the chime of the bells every quarter of an hour, 24 hours a day)!

The problem with the concept of "Nachtruhe", silence during the night, is: There seems to be none anymore, it seems to have lost any value with the Swiss people!
The registered association of the people fighting against the noise of church bells, ‘IG Stiller’ (Nachtruhe.info), stands up for the reintroduction of the Nachtruhe, the oldest of all traditions.

And another post of a woman complaining about the constant noise during the night:
My first complaint in a yet an otherwise civilised country!
Church bells? Whats going on?

I moved to another temporary apartment last week and have continuously been woken up at 4 o’clock in the morning by church bells, it continues on every quarter and then at the top of the hour and then on to 6 , at which time i pass out from exhaustion!

Isn’t it a shame that foreign people find Switzerland basically a "civilised" country  – if not for the constant church bell noise, that is…!?

These discussions are currently held on the noise of the church bells:

And cowbells:

And finally: This online magazine shows a photo of famous former right-wing member of the Swiss Federal Council Christoph Blocher, under a yoke with two heavy cowbells


  1. Starglider says:

    Thank you guys, Switzerland is really small – and loud, mainly thanks to the church-cow-mafia!

  2. Noisey says:

    Cowbells are such a meaningless invention. I heard they were invented by the Chinese. They used it against demons……!!

  3. Thomas says:

    As an ex-pat living in Switzerland, I really like the church bells. But then, in my community they do NOT ring all night and I do not live directly next to them. But your subtitle makes it sound as if every non-Swiss dislike the bells. Far from it!

  4. angel. says:

    No, don’t exaggerate. _SOME_ expats hate the constant noise of cowbells and church bells in Switzerland. Others don’t care & some rather like them. That’s probably the same as Swiss population. What a stupid article!!

  5. Phonetic says:

    Even if not ALL expats hate it, it is still interesting to hear about the subject.
    And look at the photo of the cow…… :-(

  6. angel. says:

    Dear Phonetic,
    Then you are confusing very different issue aren’t you? Cow bell? Church bell? Animal cruelty? Expat likes & dislikes??? What are you really talking about here?

  7. Phonetic says:

    To Angel,
    the photo clearly shows that these cowbells are not really healthy for cows! And they produce even more noise than the church bells. The church bells are quiet at least some times – the cows constantly move and hence cause noise ALL THE TIME!!
    And I find the discussions on the mentioned expat-forum quite interesting: Lots of expats seem to be pretty annoyed by these various bells……

  8. Lärm und Nachtruhe: Tradition und Kirchenglocken » Blog Archive » Church Bells in Switzerland says:

    [...] here: Why do church and cowbells in Switzerland constantly ring? [...]

  9. Jackie says:

    I’m so happy to finally read I’m not alone on this one. The church bells – starting at 5 a.m. where I am – are indeed incredibly annoying (otherwise lovely, but come on!), but I’d love to see an article about the outdoor parties and such that are allowed to go on until 4 a.m. or longer… I just don’t get it.

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