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Bern travel guide — Bern tourism and travel information

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about Bern

The city of Bern, English traditionally Berne [b3`n] (Swiss German Bärn [bæ:rn], German Bern [ˈbɛrn], French Berne [bERn], ItalianBerna ['bErna], Romansh Berna ['bErn@]) is the capital of Switzerland.

Inhabitants: 127,000 (2004) (fourth most populous Swiss city after Zürich, Geneva and Basel).

Language: German, or more specifically, Bernese German, which is a high-Alemannic dialect. The Canton of Bern has a French-speaking part. Very few people still speak the Matteänglisch, a secret language used in the former workers quarter Matte, but several words found their way in the Bernese German.

Bern also functions as the capital of the Canton of Bern, the second most populous of Switzerland's cantons.

Illustrious Bernese include the scientist Albrecht von Haller, the poet Albert Bitzius and the painters Ferdinand Hodler and Paul Klee. The German-born physicist Albert Einstein worked out his theory of relativity while employed as a clerk at the Bern patent office.

Bern geography

Bern lies in the midlands of the Canton of Bern, roughly in the middle of Switzerland. The landscape around Bern was formed by glaciers in the last ice age. The two mountains closest to Bern are the Gurten with a height of 858 meters and the Bantiger with a height of 947 meters. The observatory in Bern is the origin (600 000/200 000) of the Swiss coordinate system. The international coordinates are 46° 57' north, 7° 25' east. The city was originally built on a peninsula of the river Aare but outgrew the natural boundaries of the river in the 19th century.

Bern sights

Bern's city centre is largely medieval and has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Perhaps its most famous sight is the Zytglogge, an elaborate medieval clock tower with moving puppets. It also has an impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral, the Münster, and a 15th century town hall. Since the 16th century, the city has had a bear pit, which can be visited off the Nydeggbrücke. The federal parliament building and administration building or Bundeshaus, dating from the 19th century, can also be visited. The Rosengarten (German for: garden of roses) is a former cemetery which was 1913 converted into a park. Probabely the newest sight of Bern is the fountain in front of the Bundeshaus. It was inducted August 1, 2004, the Swiss national holiday.

Bern history

Duke Berthold V of Zähringen founded the city on the River Aare in 1191 and allegedly named it after a bear (Bär in German) he had killed. It was made a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir. In 1353 Bern joined the young Swiss Confederation, becoming a leading member of the new state. It invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories, becoming the largest city-state the north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, and was stripped of most of its territories. The city became the Swiss capital in 1848.

The city grew out of the peninsula on the river Aare towards the west. The Zytglogge tower was on the western boundary of the city from 1191 until 1256, then the Käfigturm took this role until 1345 and was then succeeded by the Christoffelturm (close to today's train station) until 1622. During the time of the Thirty Years' War two new fortifications, the so-called big and small Schanze (entrenchment), were built that protected the whole area of the peninsula. The area protected by these edifices was sufficient for the growth of Bern up to the 19th century.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Bern".

This city is also known as: Bern.

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