Legend has it that this picturesque city was named after the first animal the founder, Duke Berchtold V, killed on a hunt – it was a bear. Whether this story was true or not, it seems like bears are held in high esteem here in Bern – the bear has been the heraldic animal on the coat of arms since the 13th century. Bern truly is the heart of Switzerland – it’s the political and diplomatic centre of the country, it has an excellent quality of life, a great environment for research and science, and its old town was designated a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. Why hesitate? Let’s explore Bern together!
Apart from bears, Bern is also well known for its amazing fountains. There are over 100 of them in the whole city and 11 of them still retain the original allegorical sculptures created in the 16th century by a German sculptor Hans Gieng. The Piper, the Marksman, Anna Seiler, Zähringen, the Knight, Samson, Justice, the Messenger, Moses, Ryfflibrunnen, and, perhaps the most famous one, the Child Eater – they say it is safe to drink water out of all of them!
Another Bern landmark and the centre of the city is the Zytglogge Astronomical Clock Tower. The clock was installed in 1530 and works up to today: it shows the time, the movement of the stars, the moon phases and the zodiac signs. Furthermore, every hour the moving figures of a rooster, bears and Chronos (Greek god of Time) perform a small show! There’s another Bern legend, according to which Albert Einstein, who lived near Zytglogge, used to watch the buses going round the tower and wonder what would happen if they moved with the speed of light. They say it led to his theory of relativity! If you’re a fan of science and Einstein particularly, you can visit the Einsteinhaus – the house in Bern where Einstein lived from 1903 to 1905.
In fact, exploring the magnificent Old Town of Bern is a must, especially, the Bern Minster Cathedral, which is considered the most important late Gothic cathedral of Switzerland. Its construction started in 1421 and was finished only in 1893. Decorated with stained glass and bas-reliefs, Bern Minster is also the highest cathedral in Switzerland.
As we said before, people of Bern adore bears and it has been so since the very foundation of the city. If you want to get acquainted with the city’s symbols, come to Bärengraben – a bear pit situated next to the river Aare. Interesting fact: when the President of Russia came to Switzerland in 2009 he presented two bears to the pit! If you get tired from bears (though we’re sure you won’t!), you can walk to the beautiful rose garden and enjoy the spectacular view of the city.
What is more, Bern can offer a wide spectre of activities for culture lovers: the Paul Clee Centre with the fullest collection of the artist’s works, the History Museum, the Museum of Alps, the City Theatre, The Symphony Orchestra and tons of other museums, galleries and shows – just pick what you enjoy the most!
And yet there is so much more to be discovered!
Pack your bags, come to Bern and fill your heart with harmony and joy in the heart of Fantastic Switzerland!
Fantastic Switzerland Association