Bern, Switzerland

If a medieval town flanked by 17th century buildings, a 15th century cathedral and 13th century gates sounds enthralling, then add Bern to your Switzerland itinerary. After a few steps, you realize why this charming Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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1 Scenic Western View of Bern, Switzerland

This scenic, western view of Bern from the platform of the Cathedral of St. Vincent gives you a glorious look at the row houses along Aarstrasse, the Aare River and a tram crossing the Kirchenfeldbrücke. The bridge was built in 1883. On the left are the spires of the Bernisches Historisches Museum.

Münsterplattform 3011 Bern, Switzerland

2 Simsonbrunnen Statue on Kramgasse in Bern, Switzerland

While walking through the Old City of Bern, you will be delighted by dozens of colorful statues. Several of these 16th century artworks by Renaissance sculptor Hans Gieng sit on top of fountains in the middle of a street. Simsonbrunnen was erected on Kramgasse in 1544. According to the Book of Judges from the Old Testament, Samson was so strong he was able to kill a lion with his bare hands.

Kramgasse 37 3011 Bern, Switzerland

3 Duke Berchtold V and Bear Mural in Bern, Switzerland

In 1191, the German nobleman Duke Berthold V of Zähringen vowed to establish and name a town after the first animal he encountered. After capturing a black bear (schwarzbären in German), he called his settlement Bern. This mural can be seen from Kramgasse, the Old Town’s main pedestrian street. The painting of the Duke of Zähringen was created by Linck in 1906.

Hotelgasse 1 3011 Bern, Switzerland

4 Marktgasse and Zytgloggeturm Clock Tower in Bern, Switzerland

Marktgasse is the main pedestrian street through the Old Town of Bern. It is flanked with 17th and 18th century buildings and arcades decorated with colorful flags, statues, fountains and guild signs. Ahead of this couple is the 13th century Zytgloggeturm tower. On the west side is the painted fresco called “Beginning of Time.” Facing Kramgasse is a famous astronomical clock.

Bim Zytglogge 3, 3011 Bern, Switzerland

5 Käfigturm Tower East Façade in Bern, Switzerland

The Käfigturm is one of two fortified towers in the Old City of Bern. The original was built for protection in 1256 and then replaced in 1643 with this one which is 161 feet tall. It has served as a watch tower, a prison, a government archive, an information center and today it is a meeting hall for a political group. However, its primary purpose is to charm the tourists with Medieval flare.

Marktgasse 67, 3003 Bern, Switzerland

6 Käfigturm Tower Clock Close Up in Bern, Switzerland

This red and black mechanical clock with Roman numerals and a crescent moon and star on its single hand was added to the east façade of the Käfigturm tower in 1691, the same year that a means to automate its bell was installed. The clock still works after more than three hundred years.

Marktgasse 67, 3003 Bern, Switzerland

7 Federal Parliament Dome Statues in Bern, Switzerland

On top of the Federal Parliament Building’s ribbed copper dome is a gilded cross that represents Switzerland. In front of the circular pediment with the dentil ornamentation is a statue of three females. On the left is the executive branch, in the middle is political independence, and on the right is the legislative body. They were sculpted by Rodo von Niederhäusern.

Bundesplatz 3, 3005 Bern, Switzerland

8 Federal Parliament Peace Statue in Bern, Switzerland

When the Federal Parliament was built in Bern, Switzerland, from 1894 through 1902, over thirty artists were required to provide the ornamentation. One small example is this female statue sitting inside a shell-headed niche. Her sheathed sword and olive branch represent peace. A similar sculpture on the northern façade symbolizes freedom. Both are the work of sculptor James Andrè Vibert.

Bundesplatz 3, 3005 Bern, Switzerland

9 Young Woman Dancing in Federal Square Fountain in Bern, Switzerland

This happy young woman skipping through the “dancing waters” of the 26 jet fountain in Federal Square, also called Bundesplatz, is in the heart of Bern’s largest city square. It faces the Federal Parliament building and the headquarters for Switzerland’s central bank. It is also the site of countless political rallies, concerts and a bi-weekly flower and produce market.

Bundesplatz 3011 Bern, Switzerland

10 Schweizerische Nationalbank Headquarters in Bern, Switzerland

Inside this building is the headquarters of Schweizerische Nationalbank. Similar to central banks in most countries, the SNB governs the monetary policy for Switzerland, prints the Swiss Franc currency, and warehouses the country’s gold reserve. Deep below Federal Square are the bank’s vaults with more than 30 billion dollars in gold bullion.

Bundesplatz 1 3011 Bern, Switzerland

11 Burgergemeinde Bern Front Gate in Bern, Switzerland

Created by Burger Law in 1534, the Burgergemeinde Bern is a civic community of 13 companies and guilds. Membership is hereditary unless Burger rights are granted by vote. They promote “the cultural, social and scientific life in the city of Bern” including sponsorship of the National History Museum, the Kulturcasino that hosts orchestra performances, as well as two hospitals, a hostel and a Burger library.

Kochergasse 6, 3011 Bern, Switzerland

12 Hotel Bellevue Palace Salon in Bern, Switzerland

When you walk through the door of Hotel Bellevue Palace, you can see why they call it “five stars with timeless elegance.” You feel like one of the countless heads of states and royalty who have slept here. Black tie waiters serve their guests in beautifully appointed salons with stained glass canopies and thick dentil molding supported by Corinthian columns. Bellevue Palace was built in 1865 and reopened in 1910. After several operators, including the military during WWI, the luxury hotel is now owned by the Swiss Confederation.

Kochergasse 3, 3011 Bern, Switzerland

13 Kulturcasino Upper Façade in Bern, Switzerland

If you are a gambler then you want to find the Kursaal or Grand Casino in Bern. This is the Kulturcasino which, since 1909, has scheduled musical performances in their Great Hall by the Bernese symphony and chamber orchestras plus a variety of other concerts. It can also be rented for special meetings and events plus it has the Casino Bern Restaurant with lovely views of the Aare River.

Casinopl. 8 3011 Bern, Switzerland

14 Federal Parliament Southern Façade in Bern, Switzerland

The southern view of the Federal Parliament from the park below allows you to appreciate its central dome and two smaller ones. Bundeshaus is home to two branches of the Swiss government: the Federal Council and the Federal Assembly (National Council and Council of States). Flowing by the walking path along Aarstrasse is the Aare River.

Bundesplatz 3, 3005 Bern, Switzerland

15 Swiss Home in Bern, Switzerland

This Swiss home with its gabled roof, turret and bright red shutters must have a commanding view of the Old Town of Bern and the Aare River from its balcony. It sits high on a hill along Feldeggweg. This photo was taken below along Schwellenmattstrasse.

Feldeggweg 8 3005 Bern, Switzerland

16 World Telegraph Memorial in Bern, Switzerland

In front of the Bernisches Historisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland, is the World Telegraph Memorial. Built in 1922, this fountain in Helvetia square celebrates the formation of the International Telecommunications Union in 1865. The bronze figures on both sides are shown touching or connecting with the seated female figure. However, some of the other people seem distracted by their romantic interludes.

Thunstrasse 1 3005 Bern, Switzerland

17 World Telegraph Memorial Detail in Bern, Switzerland

When you walk up on an attractive monument you can take the time to appreciate the craftsmanship of the artist. An example is this detail of the World Telegraph Memorial by sculptor Giuseppe Romagnoli. This bronze male and female are on the backside of the fountain closest to the entrance of the Bernisches Historisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland.

Thunstrasse 1 3005 Bern, Switzerland

18 Bear Statue at Bernisches Historisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland

You will see several statues of bears throughout Bern, Switzerland, like this one near the entrance of the Bernisches Historisches Museum. The bear became the town’s namesake in 1191 and has been their symbol since the 16th century. Live bears used to reside in a pit called Bärengraben until the BärenPark or Bear Park was built for them along the River Aare in 2009.

Helvetiapl. 5 3005 Bern, Switzerland

19 Bernisches Historisches Museum Mosaic in Bern, Switzerland

This glass mosaic above the entrance of the Bernisches Historisches Museum is called “The Age of History.” Designed by Lèo-Paul Robert in 1900, it shows the evolution of Bern since the 12th century. The figure on the left represents History and on the right is Poetry. The building, which contains over 250,000 artifacts on the history of Bern, was built in 1894.

Helvetiapl. 5 3005 Bern, Switzerland