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BERN / BERNE, SWITZERLAND

I was in Berna in the first interrail that I did and was my first destination. I meet a couple of nice guys from Spain in the train and I spent a lot of time with them in several cities. Switzerland is one of the country that I like more but it is very expensive.



The city of Berne or Bern, de facto capital of Switzerland and, with 128,041 people (agglomeration: 344,000), the fourth most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich, Geneva and Basel).
Most of Berne's residents speak German, or more specifically, Bernese German, which is a high-Alemannic dialect. The Canton of Berne has a French-speaking part. Very few people still speak the Mattenenglisch[citation needed], a language game used in the former workers' quarter of Matte, but several words have found their way into Bernese German.















Berne also functions as the capital of the Canton of Berne, the second most populous of Switzerland's cantons.

Illustrious Bernese include the reformer Albrecht von Haller, the poet Albert Bitzius and the painters Hans Fries, Ferdinand Hodler and Paul Klee. The German-born physicist Albert Einstein worked out his theory of relativity while employed as a clerk at the Berne patent office. A culturally important person was Mani Matter, a songwriter performing in Bernese German.















Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen founded the city on the River Aare in 1191 and allegedly named it after a bear (Bär in German) he had killed. It was made an Imperial Free City by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir. In 1353 Berne joined the young Swiss Confederation, becoming a leading member of the new state. It invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories, thereby becoming the largest city-state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when it was stripped of most of its territories. In 1831 the city became the capital of the Canton of Berne and in 1848 it additionally became the Swiss capital.


The city grew out towards the west of the boundaries of the peninsula formed by the river Aar. Initially, the Zytglogge tower marked the western boundary of the city from 1191 until 1256, when the Käfigturm took over this role until 1345, which, in turn, was then succeeded by the Christoffelturm (located close to today's train station) until 1622. During the time of the Thirty Years' War two new fortifications, the so-called big and small Schanze (entrenchment), were built to protect the whole area of the peninsula. The protection by these edifices was sufficient for the prosperous growth of the city of Berne up to the 19th century.

A number of congresses of the socialist First and Second Internationals were held in Berne, particularly during World War I when Switzerland was neutral. (See Berne International.)


Places to visit:

Museum of Arts
Art-Hall
Psychiatry Museum
Historic Museum
Natural History Museum
Alpine Museum
Einstein House
Marksmen Museum


July 2003

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