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Bern (or Berne), the Capital of Switzerland is a medieval city founded in 1191, on and around the Aare River. With its stately sandstone buildings, historical towers and 11 magnificent fountains, Bern is one the most impressive examples of medieval town architecture in Europe. Over the centuries, the townscape has been preserved virtually intact, and in 1983 the UNESCO inscribed Bern as a World Heritage Site. The noble dome of the House of Parliament presides above the city, just a few steps from the main train station. Bern claims Switzerland's highest Gothic cathedral, the Münster-Cathedral, and the Heiliggeist-Kirche, a prime example of 18th century Protestant church architecture.
The city of Bern was built with local sandstone in Gothic style with gables, bay windows, and more arcades than any city in Europe: Entire rows of houses merge into one integrated whole, all connected by long covered promenades - the arcades. Umbrellas made from stone... - rain or shine, it is a pure delight to leisurely stroll along one of the longest shopping promenades in Europe providing a unique shopping experience! Throughout the city are towers, arcades, and lots of old fountains. The fantastic Clock Tower has puppets that pop out before the hour and perform a little skit.
In 2009 the new Bear Park was opened, including the historic Bear-Pit, the city's most popular tourist attraction for almost 500 years. Legend has it that when Bern was founded, it was named after the first animal killed there: a bear. In addition to its numerous historic sites, Bern also offers an active cultural life and various options for activities in the city and its surroundings. The Center Paul Klee exhibits the largest collection in the world of one of the greatest 20th century artists, and the Swiss Alpine Museum displays a history of the Swiss Alps. Bern's shimmering green river, the Aare twists and turns alongside the Old Town and offers countless restful havens. A short walk will take you to tree-lined embankments surrounded by nature. The Aare attracts people of all ages - especially in summer when the river's refreshing clean water invites you to jump in and cool off in the middle of town. It is here in Bern where Albert Einstein worked, the Toblerone chocolate bar is made, and the Emmental cheese, known as "Swiss Cheese", reached out to the world. more information about attractions and activities in Bern and surroundings.
Bern is centrally located in Switzerland in the "Swiss Mittelland" within 60-90 minutes travel time to most other important Swiss cities and near the Alpine Peaks of the Bernese Oberland. At 542 m (1,776 ft) above sea level the city center is surrounded by the Aare River and includes a total area of 52 sq. km (20.1 sq. miles) of which about one third is public park and woods.
Distances to other popular Swiss Destinations:
City-Map of Bern
Getting to Bern:
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The nearest international airport is Zurich-Kloten which is easily accessible with numerous daily direct trains (travel time is 74 minutes). But also the other international airports are rather close: Geneva-Cointrin is reached within 110 minutes by direct train, and the EuroAirport in Basel-Mulhouse within 78 minutes by train and bus. Bern also has its own regional airport in Belp with some international flights (Shuttle Bus to/from the city center).
Bern's main train station is the 2nd largest in Switzerland; it is an important hub of almost all international trains passing through Switzerland - North-South as well as East-West - and from Bern you can easily reach all major Swiss destinations. Look for international train connections "ICE" to Bern / Berne. From Bern, one easily connects within less than an hour to popular Swiss scenic trains such as the Golden Pass and the Glacier Express
Bern is connected to Switzerland's longest Highway, the East-West "A1", as well as the European "E4"; to/from the South, the shortest route is via the Loetschberg-Tunnel (Car Transport Train).