The Old City of Bern is located on the Swiss plateau between the Jura and the Alps and founded in 1191 according to an innovative foundation plan and located on a hill surrounded by the River Aare. This development remains visible in its urban structure, mainly tributary to the medieval establishment and its clearly defined elements: well-defined wide streets, used for the market, a regular division of built sections, subdivided into narrow and deep parcels, an advanced infrastructure for water transportation, impressive buildings for the most part dating from the 18th century mainly built from sandy limestone, with their system of arcades and the facades of the houses supported by arches. Public buildings for secular and religious authorities were always located on the periphery, a principle also respected in the 19th century during the construction of the large public monuments confirming the function of Berne as the federal city from 1848.
The City of Bern is the political center of Switzerland. It is well-known for its high quality of life, good cultural offering, and tourist attractions. The town is also home to international organizations and enterprises. It has gained itself a reputation as a place of research and science. Bern is an attractive residential area offering a high quality of life.
Bern’s Old Town that was founded in 1191, is an urban gem without equal and is lined with four miles of arcades that invite visitors to enjoy a special kind of shopping experience. This is why it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
There is a wealth of additional sights hidden within the sandstone facades that are well worth discovering:
• The Parliament Building and Parliament Square
• The traditional Bear Park
• The Zytglogge Clock Tower is a landmark medieval tower in Bern
• The river Aare is the longest river that both rises and ends entirely within Switzerland.
• Over 100 fountains that provide guests fresh drinking water.
There is a wide range of shopping opportunities in large shopping centers and smaller shops in Bern. The two main shopping streets of Kramgasse and Gerechtigkeitsgasse are in the center of the Old Town. The «Old Town Arcades», or «Lauben», are a popular place, especially when they can provide shelter from the rain. There are also bustling markets held each week in Bern’s city squares.