Of all of Switzerland's cities, Berne – the nation's capital – is among the rare ones to have succeeded in retaining its historic character. The Old Town of Berne is listed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage register. With its six-kilometre long arcades – the so-called "Lauben" – Berne has one of the longest weatherproof shopping streets in Europe.
The city's medieval atmosphere is unique with its numerous fountains, sandstone facades, narrow alleys and historic towers. The best views of the Old Town and the River Aare, that flows either side of it, are from the rose garden above the Bear's Pit, or from the platform atop the 101-metre high Munster Cathedral Tower. The Old Town's boutiques, bars, cabarets and small street cafés attract residents and tourists alike. Although Berne offers an excellent network of public transportation, the town centre is best visited on foot.
The Paul Klee Centre at the outskirts of the city offers the world's most comprehensive collection of works by the painter Paul Klee. The Albert Einstein House is evidence of the physicist's stay in Berne at the beginning of the 20th Century. And with its Museum of History, Museum of Art and Museum for Communication, Berne can offer many varied exhibitions.
In summer, the Aare River is the place to go for the ultimate in swimming fun. Good swimmers enjoy the strong current of the Aare that carries them down along the clean river as they gaze up at the House of Parliament. The Botanical Garden, Dählhölzli Zoo and old Matte Quarter also lie by the river. Berne and the bear, its heraldic animal, are inextricably tied to each other. No visit to Berne is complete without a stop at the Bear Pit, where one is allowed to feed the bears with carrots.
Highlights in Berne
Sandstone houses, narrow alleys, running fountains and the medieval atmosphere combine to create a unique setting.
The arcades that span the entire length of the city make for pleasant shopping in any kind of weather.
Paul Klee Centre
The world's largest collection of paintings by the artist Paul Klee. The cultural venue designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano is built in three wave-like sections.
At this, the city's probably best known landmark, one can feed carrots to the bears.
Seat of the government
The Federal Palace is another one of Berne's famous landmarks. It houses the government and parliament.
3001 Berne, Switzerland
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