Small cozy Bern is not at all like the capital in the usual sense of the word. Its streets immersed in greenery, houses covered with red tiles, church spiers would be more appropriate in a prosperous province, where people live a measured life for centuries, and are not in the thick of things. Nevertheless, Bern is the administrative center of Switzerland, where many states send their ambassadors.
A wide field of activity opens up for tourists in the city. After seeing the many architectural sights in Bern's historic districts, you can take to the local museums or enjoy the majestic views of the Alpine peaks that rise against the piercing blue sky.
What to see and where to go in Bern?
The most interesting and beautiful places for walking. Photos and a short description.
The historical part of Bern, located in a hilly bend of the river Aare. Since 1983 it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Most of the city's attractions are located in the old quarters. The first settlements in this area arose at the end of the 12th century, when Duke Berthold V of Zähringen, the founder of Bern, came here. Today, this part of the city houses restaurants, hotels, clubs and offices in former residential buildings.
Bern is famous for its numerous well-fountains, many of which were created in the 13th-16th centuries. The fountains of Bern are guarded by statues of fabulous creatures made by the sculptor G. Ging. The most frightening statue is the “Child Eater”. This is an evil giant with a bag full of children's bodies (he eats one of them). Apparently, the sculpture was created to help parents raise naughty offspring.
The palace complex was erected in 1894-1902. designed by G. Auer in neo-Renaissance style. The building is used as a meeting place for Swiss public authorities. The palace is 64 meters high. Its roof is crowned with a huge dome, on the inside of which the coat of arms of Switzerland and 22 of its cantons are laid out in mosaic (as of the beginning of the 20th century). The building is open to the public. From special galleries you can watch the parliamentary session.
The astronomical clock tower, presumably built in the 13th century as a defensive fortification. At the beginning of the 15th century, the building burned down, after which it was built again from local sandstone. The building acquired its modern look in the 16th century. The old Zytglogge tower clock is over 500 years old. All these centuries, the townspeople used them to determine the exact time.
The tower was built in the middle of the 17th century on the site of the city gates. Until 1897, it was used to keep prisoners (hence the name), then the city archives were placed in the premises. At the same time, an observation post was located in the tower, from where the caretaker could notice the starting fire in time. Now this point has been converted into an observation deck for tourists.
Bern City Hall is an example of mixed style architecture. In her appearance, Romanesque features are guessed, as well as elements of early and late Gothic. The town hall was built at the beginning of the 15th century for the needs of the city council. Subsequently, the building was repeatedly rebuilt, while its architectural appearance changed somewhat. Today, in addition to the city council, the ecclesiastical parliament of the canton of Bern sits here.
Cathedral of the Protestant Church of Bern, located in the historic part of the city. The construction of the temple lasted several centuries - from the 14th to the end of the 19th centuries. The dominant architectural style of the building is late Gothic. The interior of the cathedral is quite simple and concise. All superfluous, according to church reformers, decorations were removed from here back in the distant 16th century, so that believers could focus only on communion with God.
A small church with a high spire, built in the middle of the XIV century. During the difficult years of the Reformation, the temple was almost abandoned; services resumed here only in 1566. In the middle of the 20th century, the building was reconstructed under the guidance of the architect M. Perincaioli. As a result, new bronze reliefs were added to the façade. In 1968, a monument was erected in honor of Berthold V Zähringen in the courtyard of the temple.
Church of the Holy Spirit
A modest and graceful 18th-century baroque temple, which is considered one of the most significant Protestant parishes in Switzerland. Like other local churches, its interior is not luxurious, but still the walls are decorated with rich stucco, and in the hall there is a circular gallery of massive columns. The Church of the Holy Spirit is one of the largest in the country. It can accommodate up to 2 thousand people.
Church of St. Peter and Paul
The first Catholic church built after the victory of the Reformation in Switzerland. The church was built between 1858 and 1864. The facade is made in a mixed architectural style. On it you can see the features of the Gothic and late Romanesque style. The interiors were painted in Art Nouveau style relatively recently - in 1998. Despite belonging to a Catholic diocese, the Church of St. Peter and Paul is relatively independent from the Vatican.
Paul Klee Center
The museum, whose collection is made up of works by P. Klee, an avant-garde graphic artist and art critic. The idea of creating an exposition appeared after the master's descendants donated more than 700 of his works to the city. The museum building was erected at the expense of the Muller family according to the project of the architect R. Piano. The opening took place in 2005. The collection is located in the underground part of the structure, as Klee's canvases are sensitive to light.
Albert Einstein House Museum
A. Einstein lived in the house at Kramgasse 49 from 1903 to 1905. while working at the local patent office. It was here that the great scientist wrote the first articles that covered the fundamental postulates of the theory of relativity. The original atmosphere of the early 20th century has been recreated in Einstein's former apartment, photographs of the scientist and his family hang on the walls, and scientific papers and documents are stored on the shelves.
Bern Historical Museum
The museum is located on Helvetiaplatz. The building was built at the end of the 19th century. From the outside, it looks like a real castle. The museum exposition is divided into four large sections, where thousands of items are exhibited. In total, the funds contain more than 250 thousand exhibits. Here you can look at knightly armor, ancient coins, decorative elements of temples, church utensils and much more.
The collection contains a large number of paintings by Swiss, French, Italian and Spanish masters of the XIV-XX centuries. The avant-garde exposition, which was transferred to the museum in 2014 on behalf of a private connoisseur of art, deserves special mention. It includes works by S. Dali, P. Cezan, A. Matisse, A. Modigliani, V. Kandinsky and other artists. In addition to paintings, the museum has 3,000 sculptures and 48,000 engravings.
Museum of Natural History
Natural science exposition, which was founded in 1832. The museum staff closely cooperates with the University of Bern. The collection consists of stuffed animals, skeletons, minerals, huge crystals. There are even fragments of a meteorite and gold bars here. Many halls feature interactive installations imitating the smells and sounds of wildlife. The Bernese Museum has one of the most comprehensive natural science exhibitions in Switzerland.
Museum of Communication
Museum exhibits tell visitors the history of the development of various means of communication. Old telephones, telegraphs, radios, televisions, computers and other devices are exhibited here. An impressive part of the exposition is devoted to digital technologies. The museum operates a specialized sanatorium where people suffering from computer addiction are treated.
"Bear Pit" is a small bear park with a moat adjacent to it, they are a branch of the Delhölzli city zoo. The bear is considered the heraldic symbol of Bern; this animal is treated with great reverence here. The first pit appeared in the city in the 15th century, since then it has repeatedly moved from place to place. The park is a popular tourist attraction.
The botanical garden is located at the University of Bern. It contains a collection of plants from the tropics, deserts, steppes, forests and alpine meadows. The garden was created in 1862. In some greenhouses with especially valuable plants, access to visitors with children may be limited, as the administration is worried about the safety of delicate representatives of the flora, sensitive to the slightest impact.
A romantic landscape park where about 220 varieties of roses and about 200 types of irises grow and smell fragrant. The garden is strewn with flowers in all shades of red, yellow and white. It offers a picturesque view of the historical part of Bern, as the rose garden is located on a hill. The garden arose in the 20th century on the site of the former city cemetery. This is a great place for walking, relaxing and philosophical reflection.
Mount Gurten is located a few kilometers from Bern. Its height is about 864 meters. An amusement park of the same name is organized on the elephants of the mountain. In winter, people go skiing and sledding, in summer - cycling. The park has a hotel, restaurants and conference facilities. Every year, the musical festival “Gurtenfestival” is held here, which attracts participants from all over Europe.