TOP 25 THINGS TO SEE IN BERN
This post will be following on from my previous post on my day journal of Bern. Bern is the capital city of Switzerland and one of the most cultural and historically enriching cities in Europe. All of the fountains I will write about are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old City of Bern - therefore make sure you at least have a look and appreciate their beauty. There are many things to see here and luckily, since Bern is quite small, they can easily be seen in a short amount of time.
Top Things to See :
This church is straight after the station if you turn to your left and go down Spitalgasse. It will be one of the first important things you will see as it is right at the beginning of the itinerary. The Heiliggeistkitche was built as a protestant church in the eighteenth century and is today considered as one of the most beautful protestant churches of Switzerland. The interior of the church is of baroque architecture with pretty frescos on the ceiling. After having travelled around a lot in Italy, I am very used to Roman Catholic architecture which is very rich in decoration therefore I noticed a very big difference in the interior decoration as here the interior almost looks bare in comparison.
This will be the first of the swiss fountains that you will encounter on the Spitalgasse. It was sculpted in the sixteenth century by the Swiss Renaissance sculptor Hans Gieng. This fountain features a bagpieper dressed in blue and red. He took his inspiration from Albrecht Dürer’s (artist of the german reinaissance) woodcut of the bagpiper. The fountain has been kept miraculously and you can still see the colour differentiation vividly.
This is a spectacular medieval tower. This tower, which now is part of the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site, was once constructed as a prison. It was in use until 1897 - However since 1999 this tower hosts exhibitions and events relating to political issues. The tower separates the two streets of Spitalgasse and Marktgasse.
On Saturdays you will find the farmers market. We visited during the autumn season therefore it was filled with pumpkins and squash which set a very beautiful scene. They also had a lot of fruit and vegetables available to purchase. Furthermore there were some food trucks such as Jamaican and Mexican which sold delicious authentic food.
The Bundeshaus is situated just off the bärensplaz. This is the building that houses the Swiss Federal Assembly and the Federal Council. This building began to be constructed in 1848 when Berne was declared Swiss Capital and therefore needed a building to house the parliament. This absolutely stunning building was completed in 1902 - It was the effort of Architect H. Auer however it needed a total of 38 artists for the decorations.
It is possible to visit this Parliament House. For more information on tickets visit the website: http://www.bern.com/de/activities-bi/activities-incoming/bundeshaus-bi
This is another of the famous fountains in Bern which is situated just after the Medieval Prison tower. It represents the founder of the first hospital in Bern in 1354. It depicts a woman dressed in a blue and red robe pouring water into a bowl - It is a picturesque fountain also vivid in its colours.
This fountain is situated a few metres after the Anna-Seiler-Brunnen. It is located on the marktgasse. It underwent many changes and was finally finished the way it looks today in 1939. It represents a marksman holding a flag and a sword with a bear standing in between his legs holding a shotgun. This fountain is slightly less colourful than the previous ones.
This is probably my favorite building in Berne. This landmark is a medieval clock tower built in the thirteenth century. It has had quite a few functions for example a prison tower, a guard tower and a clock tower. Both façades contain large important clocks, the first one is the eastern clockface - an elegant black clock with golden roman numerals. The second façade contains the famous astronomical clock which is now part of the Unesco world heritage sights.
The Kornhaus is a magnificent building located on kornhausgasse and built in the early eighteenth century. It was once the granary of the city however today it houses one of the most elegant and beautiful italian restaurants of the city. The exterior is a perfect example of late baroque architecture and the interior holds some beautiful frescos that add a touch of culture to your dining.
One of the things you must do is go on this bridge and take in the spectacular view. If you are going to Switzerland for the first them then you will be stunned as i do not think any other european city (and non european) can compare to this view.
As you may guess form the words "brunnen" the klindlifresserbrunnen is another of the famous sixteenth century fountains. Created by Hans Geing, this one however is slightly more twisted than the others as it represents an ogre in green and red who is in the midst of eating a naked child whilst on the side of him there are other children kept preasumably waiting to be eaten.
This spectacular fountain was built as a memorial for the founder of the city Berchtold von Zähringen. It portrays a bear dressend in armour with a small bear cub at its feet.
This is where the famous scientist Albert Einstein rented out for two years in the beginning of the 1900's. It is located on Kramsgasse n.49 and has been reconstructed inorder to depict Einsteins life whilst living in Bern. It was in this house that he came up with his famous Theory of Relativity (the law of gravitation and its relation to forces of nature). Students pay 4.50 CHF and you can buy your tickets streight at the house but for more information have a look at their webiste :
This fountain is a beautiful vivid fountain portraying the biblical story of Samson killing a lion. In short, the story narrates Samson, a son of israelites who has led a very strict life. Because of the fact that he has kept strictly to the israelite traditions he is given strength. On his way to marry the love of his life, he is attacked by a lion - but with his big strenth is able to kill the lion. This fountain is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Old city of Bern.
This famous statue was built in 1543, and it represents the Lady of Justice holding scales and the sword of truth. She is blindfolded and dressed in a beautiful blue dress and a decorative golden suit of armour. This fountain is probably one of my favourites simply due to the meaning behind the fountain - it symbolizes the notion of equality before the law.
This is a beautifully architected gothic cathedral begun to be constructed in 1421 and completed in 1893. This is a spectacular monument and known as the tallest cathedral in the whole of Switzerland. The Cathedral is composed of three large portals all decorated in a different way. The main and most important portal contains sculptures of the last judgement. There are 47 large sculptures which are copies (as the originals are housed in the History Museum of Bern) whilst the 170 small statues are all original. The intricate and beautifully decorated main portal is worth spending time to admire in detail. The Interior of the cathedral is composed of three naves; The gothic architecture means that the central nave is taller than the other two and there are beautiful stained glass windows allowing the light to fall through.
This sixteenth century fountain represents Moses bringing the ten commandments to the tribes of Israel. It is a beautifully detailed fountain located on the münsterplatz infront of the Berner Münster.
This is a park located behind the Berner Münster. From this park you will have a fantastic view over the left part of the city looking over the Aare river and the dams. It is a spectacular spot for photos so be sure to stop by.
This bridge connects the city centre to the outer parts of Bern and in order to go to the Bear Park you will need to cross this bridge. It is from this bridge that I had the most spectacular view of the residential part of Bern's city center. All the little houses seem to be randomly positionned on the valley. It is also a good spot to admire Bernes sandy limestone architecture.
Bears are the landmark and emblem of Bern; It is said that bears have been kept in the city since the early sixteenth century. The bärenpark is the most recent bear enclosure opened in 2009 and it is home to one large grizzly bear. Luckily now the space is as big as 6000 sq metres and is an open air riverside park allowing the bear to have enough space. This "attraction" is open everyday and is free to have a walk around.
Bernisches Historisches Museum:
If you have longer than a day to visit Bern, then you will want to come to the History Museum of Bern. This is the second largest Historical Museum in Switzerland and contains in it's permanent exhibition a long history of Swiss heritage dating from the early middle ages until the twenteith century. It also contains collections from the stone age, the celtic age, the romans and an interesting exhibition on the diversity of cultures in America.
For more information on this museum, visit their website: http://www.bhm.ch/en/information/opening-hours-fees/
The main time to go and see the Rosengarten is in Spring, as it is then that you will see the garden filled with beautiful coloured Roses, however i went in Autumn and the warm coloured leaves were good enough for me. Rosengarten offers a fantastic view over the city - you can get here on the number 10 bus from Bundeshaus to Rosengarten.
The botanical garden is Bern is a magical enchantment of nature. It contains almost 6000 different species of plants varying from Asia, North America, Switzerland. They also have little greenhouses that adapt to the correct tropical tempreature allowing Palm trees and other tropical species to grow. To reach the botanical garden take the bus number 20 from Banhofplatz to Gewerbescule.
Natural History Museum:
The Natural History Museum in Bern was founded in 1832 and contains around 4 million objects. It is located on the southern part of the city just behind the History Museum. Entrance costs 6 CHF for students and 8 CHF for adults.
For more information on the Natural History Museum take a look at their website: http://www.nmbe.ch/en/information/visiting-museum
Alpine Museum Bern :
The Alpine museum of Bern is nothing like the usual museums you find in capital cities. This museum aims to raise awarenes of the effects of climate change on the Alpine Resevoir of Europe. It is a museum dedicated to the nature and culture of Swiss Alps holding an interactive platform that serves as a way of instructing and teaching. It is a fun way of learning about the beautiful mountains surrounding us.
For more information on this museum, have a look at their website: https://www.alpinesmuseum.ch/fr