Bern is the federal capital of Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Bern. It is located on the river Aare, 542 meters above sea level. and has 133,115 residents (2017), 415,500 including suburbs (the Bern Agglomeration).
Business and transport
Bern is primarily a management center and commercial city, but also has some industry, especially machinery, food, textile and chemical (pharmaceutical) industry. It is an important railway junction. Belp, 6 km southeast of the city center, is an international airport. The city is the seat of the international postal, telegraph and railway unions.
Knowledge and culture
Bern has a university, founded in 1834, and several colleges in technical, economic and administrative subjects. The city has many museums, including Zentrum Paul Klee which opened in 2005, designed by Renzo Piano. Einsteinhaus is located in the old town, where Albert Einstein lived in the years 1903-1905, while developing the theory of relativity. The Swiss Alpine Museum is located in Bern.
Bern is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful cities. The old town, which is on UNESCO’s list of world cultural and natural heritage, has a unique urban architecture (6 km long archways), as well as a unique location on a peninsula surrounded by Aare on three sides. Five high bridges, around 40 m above the river, lead to the newer neighborhoods.
The building consisted mainly of timber houses until a fire in 1405. It was rebuilt in brick and stone while retaining the older town plan. Bern is one of the few cities in Europe that has preserved the town plan from the Middle Ages.
Important tourist attractions are the bell tower (Zeitglockenturm) with its moving dolls, the magnificent Gothic cathedral Münster (Catholic), begun in 1421, but not completed until 1893, and the Heiliggeistkirche (Protestant), considered Switzerland’s most beautiful Baroque church. The town hall from the beginning of the 1400s was erected just after the city fire.
Bern was founded in 1191 and became a free national city in 1218. In 1353 it was united with the forest cantons and admitted to the Swiss Confederation. The city has been the federal capital from 1848.