Bern, the Swiss capital, situated on the banks of the River Aare
Comfortably served by the nearby Bem-Belp Airport, Bern gives the visitor, from the very first meeting, an impression of calm and serenity, almost an immersion into a distant past that the city is proud to preserve with care: the historic centre maintains its medieval appearance, with ordered alleyways still with their original cobblestones and houses made of sandstone with characteristic pitched roofs.
Beneath each house lie old vaulted cellars, once used to preserve supplies, but today fitted out as interesting boutiques, wine shops and art galleries. Along the six kilometres of arcades that frame the old town, and one of the longest covered shopping walkways in Europe, stand a series of shops difficult to find elsewhere, which provide a unique shopping experience.
Eleven fountains with sixteenth-century sculpted allegories and the imposing Gothic Cathedral (Munster), the largest place of worship in Switzerland with a belfry 100 metres tall that offers a breathtaking view of the city, complete the atmospheric picture of the old town. The old town offers some of the best preserved examples of medieval architecture in Europe, and since 1983 has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Even modern tastes are catered for, such as the futuristic buildings of the Zentrum Paul Klee, dedicated to the great German painter born in Switzerland, the work of Renzo Piano, and the new Westside shopping and recreational centre, which covers an area of 23,500 square metres, designed by the US architect Daniel Libeskind, where events, shoppingand wellness cohabit in perfect harmony, offering visitors both peace of mind and entertainment.
The old town of Bern provides a magical setting, prompting Goethe to say that Berne was the most beautiful city he had ever seen, and which can be admired from Kirchenfeld Bridge or from the Garden of Roses, a very beautiful, well-equipped, flower-filled park. A visit to the Bear Park - the bear is the heraldic symbol of the city - where these animals live in freedom and can be viewed by visitors, is an unforgettable experience for both young and old.
The great physicist Albert Einstein, who spent many years of his life here and developed his Theory of Relativity in Bern, said that he spent the happiest and most productive time of his life in the city. The house where he lived is today open to visitors, and the History Museum of Bern pays homage with films and experiments illustrating the work of the great scientist.
The most famous and most visited monument of the city is Zytglogge, the medieval Clock Tower with its animated statues of allegorical characters and figures of animals. Don’t miss a visit to the Kunstmuseum, which houses valuable collections of ancient, modern and contemporary art ranging from fourteenth-century Italian works to Picasso and Salvador Dali.
However, Bern offers much more than the spectacle of its natural beauty and museums. In addition to its poetic surroundings in the midst of breathtaking mountains worthy of interesting hikes, the city attracts visitors with prestigious events and places, including the International Jazz Festival, the Marzili Centre, considered the most beautiful river pool in the world, where in summer tourists and residents search for cooler temperatures in the fresh waters of the River Aare, and the picturesque Onion Market, a local event that takes place on the fourth Sunday in November.
On this occasion, the square is filled with stalls displaying artistic plaits of garlic and onionsas well as local items, and cheese and onion tarts and onion soup, washed down with mulled wine, are also on offer. Cheese is another speciality of the area, in particular Emmental. To sweeten the taste buds, the famous chocolate Toblerone, with its characteristic triangular shape and chopped almonds, is known and appreciated throughout the world.
Where to sleep in Bern
Bern is a welcoming city and offers different possibilities for accommodation.
To find the ideal hotel and the best offers you can do a search for the stars but also for districts or landmarks.
Text by Anna Glik
Photos: © Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Photos: © Sisterscom.com, Shutterstock
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Copyright © Sisterscom.com
Bahnhofplatz 10 a
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Bern Cathedral is the most imposing ecclesiastical building in Switzerland. Dedicated to St. Vincent of Zaragoza, the church has a late-Gothic spire of over 100 metres, the highest in Switzerland. Construction work lasted over four centuries, from the mid fifteenth century to the end of the nineteenth. The door depicting the Last Judgement is particularly noteworthy. The interior has three naves decorated with high majestic vaults with small chapels along their sides. A wonderful view of Bern can be enjoyed across the city from the bell tower.
ZYTGLOGGE - CLOCK TOWER
Zytglogge is the famous Bern Clock Tower, a historic and cultural symbol of the city. Built in the thirteenth century and restored in the sixteenth, it is worthy of a visit to admire the astronomical clock, which Einstein used to work out his Theory of Relativity. A small group of mechanical figures mark the time, like scene from a play: a cockerel that crows, a parade of bears and a dancing jester.
ZENTRUM PAUL KLEE
In a building designed by Renzo Piano is one of the most important collections devoted to one artist, Paul Klee. Inaugurated in 2005, it not only preserves a large number of works by the great artist, but also an overview of his life, with many private items including manuscripts and collections of shells, as well as puppets made by Paul for his son Felix.
This is the second museum in Switzerland in terms of importance. It contains finds concerning the history of Bern and the local areas from their origins to the present day. It also features interesting permanent exhibitions on Asia and Egypt.
ALBERT EINSTEIN HOUSE MUSEUM
This is one of the most popular places in the city of Bern: the small apartment where the genius physicist Albert Einstein lived at no. 49 Kramgasse, a road linked to his discovery, given that while he travelled by tram along this road in the opposite direction to the Clock Tower, he devised his Theory of Relativity. Inside the house, everything has remained as it was: from furniture to paintings and objects. Even his written work is on show and presented with the support of modern exhibition systems managed by the History Museum of Bern.
KUNSTMUSEUM - ANCIENT, MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART
The museum houses collections of numerous important works of art that range from thirteenth century Tuscan pieces (Duccio da Buoninsegna) to German Expressionism with Ernst Ludwig Kirkner. A large section is devoted to the art of Bern from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century and the French art of Delacroix and Gustave Courbet.
This is a vast park with a magnificent view of the old town of Bern and meander of the River Aare. It has some 220 varieties of roses, as well as irises and rhododendrons. A pavilion and reading garden provide places for relaxation.
MARZILI RIVER POOL
This is the most popular open-air pool in Bern. Surrounded by spectacular vegetation, swimming takes place in the waters of the River Aare or in one of the pools, suitable for both young and old. A place of total relaxation.
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