Bern VIP services
Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, is built around a crook in the Aare River. It traces its origins back to the 12th century, with medieval architecture preserved in the Altstadt (Old Town). The Swiss Parliament and diplomats meet in the Neo-Renaissance Bundeshaus (Federal Palace). The Französische Kirche (French Church) and the nearby medieval tower known as the Zytglogge both date to the 13th century.
Bern or Berne (German: Bern; Alemannic German: Bärn; French: Berne; Italian: Berna; Romansh: Berna) is the de facto capital of Switzerland, referred to by the Swiss as their "federal city", in German Bundesstadt, French ville fédérale, and Italian città federale. With a population of about 140,000, Bern is the fifth-most populous city in Switzerland. The Bern agglomeration, which includes 36 municipalities, had a population of over 406,000 in 2014. The metropolitan area had a population of 660,000 in 2000. Bern is also the capital of the canton of Bern, the second-most populous of Switzerland's cantons.
The official language in Bern is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the most-spoken language is an Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German.
In 1983, the historic old town (in German: Altstadt) in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tourism in Bern, Switzerland
The etymology of the name "Bern" is uncertain. According to the local legend, based on folk etymology, Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, the founder of the city of Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt, and this turned out to be a bear. It has long been considered likely that the city was named after the Italian city of Verona, which at the time was known as Bern in Middle High German. As a result of the finding of the Bern zinc tablet in the 1980s, it is now more common to assume that the city was named after a pre-existing toponym of Celtic origin, possibly *berna "cleft". The bear was the heraldic animal of the seal and coat of arms of Bern from at least the 1220s. The earliest reference to the keeping of live bears in the Bärengraben dates to the 1440s.
The structure of Bern's city centre is largely medieval and has been recognised by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site. Perhaps its most famous sight is the Zytglogge (Bernese German for "Time Bell"), 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. Thanks to 6 kilometres (4 miles) of arcades, the old town boasts one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe. Since the 16th century, the city has had a bear pit, the Bärengraben, at the far end of the Nydeggbrücke to house its heraldic animals. The currently four bears are now kept in an open-air enclosure nearby, and two other young bears, a present by the Russian president, are kept in Dählhölzli zoo. The Federal Palace (Bundeshaus), built from 1857 to 1902, which houses the national parliament, government and part of the federal administration, can also be visited. There are eleven Renaissance allegorical statues on public fountains in the Old Town. Nearly all the 16th-century fountains, except the Zähringer fountain, which was created by Hans Hiltbrand, are the work of the Fribourg master Hans Gieng. One of the more interesting fountains is the Kindlifresserbrunnen (Bernese German: Child Eater Fountain but often translated Ogre Fountain) which is claimed to represent a Jew, the Greek god Chronos or a Fastnacht figure that scares disobedient children. Bern is also served by Bern Airport (IATA: BRN, ICAO: LSZB / LSMB), located outside the city near the town of Belp. The regional airport, colloquially called Bern-Belp or Belpmoos, is connected to several European cities. Additionally Zurich Airport, Geneva Airport and EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg also serve as international gateways, all reachable within less than two hours by train or car from Bern.
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