The historical center of Bern has a uniform architectural style. The houses all have a large roof overhang and in the base area the houses are connected with covered arcades called "Lauben". This means that you can walk through the old town in any weather without getting wet and differences in height are overcome with stairs. You can even sit under the wide arches in the cafe. All arcades together are over 6 km long. The "Berner Lauben" are a trademark of the Swiss federal city.
The parliament is flanked by two federal buildings, which were built between 1857 and 1892. The Swiss Parliament building with the three domes was completed in 1902. The classicist "Bundeshaus" as the parliament is called in german, is the seat of the government and parliament of the Swiss Confederation. Bern is not considered the capital of Switzerland, but is called the federal city. The Swiss didn't want a dominant capital, so Bern is "only" the city where the government is located. The Parliament building stands on the slope edge and is visible from afar. The Parliament is one of the most famous sights in Bern.
The time clock "Zytglogge" was the western tower of the city fortification until 1256. After the expansion of the city, the tower lost it's use and was equipped with a clock in 1405. In 1530 the belfry was added. At the full hour the character play begins, which is announced by the golden cock a few minutes before. Then the bear procession starts, the cock crows a second time and the harlequin rings his bells. Chronos turns the hourglass and the golden man rings a bell. In the end the golden cock crows again.
The moat of the 3rd city wall was filled in 1513. On the open space the cattle market took place. In 1864 the square was paved and named "Bärenplatz" Bearsquare. A relic of the old city wall is the "Käfigturm" Cagetower built 1644, which was used as a prison until 1897.
The "Kindlifresserbrunne" child-eater-well belongs to a series of wells in the old town of Bern. The well sculpture of Hans Gieng was created in 1545. The "child-eater" eats naughty children, which he collects in his pockets. Other wells (Brunnen) are the "Zähringerbrunnen", the "Kramgassenbrunnen", the "Mosesbrunnen" (Münsterplatz) and the "Vennerbrunnen" (Rathausplatz). The beautiful fountains are one of the most famous attractions in Bern.
The historic town hall of Bern still serves as the headquarter of the parliament of the canton Bern, it was built in late-Gothic style in 1415. The town hall (Rathaus) was rebuilt in neo-Gothic style in 1868. Later on changes were made, including the figures of Gustave Piguet on the façade in 1942.
The neoclassical theater "Stadttheater Bern" was built in 1903 under the leadership of a stock corporation. The architect René von Wurstemberger built a stage for opera, theater and ballet. The Bern city theatre is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city center.
The iron bridge opened in 1883, consists of two 37 m high arches. The 229 m long Kirchenfeld Bridge spans the river Aare and connects the city center with the Kirchenfeld district. The building contractor committed suicide in 1882 by throwing himself from the brighe into the river. He thought he had miscalculated and the bridge will collapse soon. But the Kirchenfeld Bridge has been standing for around 140 years now.
Welcome to Bern
Bern is the capital of Switzerland and, after Zurich, Geneva and Basel, the fourth largest city in the country. The well-preserved historic old town is located on a hill in a bend of the river Aare. The main sights are the Bern Minster, the painted fountains and the old watchtower "Zytglogge". Bern has a population of 140,000 inhabitants.