A Walking Tour of Bern Switzerland
Bern Switzerland – A UNESCO World Heritage City
Switzerland’s capital city, Bern, dates back to 1191 – and much of the city still retains its old-world atmosphere. In the Old Town of Bern Switzerland, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, traces of modernity can be found; but mostly, a walking tour of the town offers a fascinating glimpse into Bern’s past, as well as views of many beautiful and historic treasures. The following are a few of my favorite finds from a tour of the city.
My first stop of the day was Bern’s Rose Garden, a public park on a hilltop overlooking the Old Town and the Aare River. The garden is a beautiful place to relax among the flowers (it’s home to 220 types of roses, 200 kinds of irises, and 28 varieties of rhododendrons), and to take in some of the best views in town. The Rose Garden also has a restaurant, with outdoor seating perfect for enjoying the scenery.
Into the Heart of Bern, Switzerland
From the garden, a stairway winds back into town, offering a perfect route right into the heart of the city. From there, I made my way to the Bern Bear Park, where the city’s famous furry inhabitants have a home along the Aare. Back in the old days, Bern’s bears were housed in a concrete pit – today, the pit is an historical site in the town, but the bears have a newer, more comfortable habitat built on a hill bordering the Aare, where the bears can roam around and go for a swim.
I headed further into the city, passing by the original Lindt chocolate factory on my way to the old town’s main drag. The picturesque main street of the city center is lined with rows of hanging flags on either side of the road. Small stores and restaurants also abound – and, as I learned, there is even more than immediately meets the eye. Cellar doors that date back to the Middle Ages can be found along the sides of the street, and many are home to boutique shops or even art galleries.
Historical Sites in Bern, Switzerland
In this same area, I stumbled upon Bern’s colorful medieval fountains. Though Bern Switzerland has more than 100 fountains in total throughout the city, 11 of them still include original artistic statues, each depicting a different figure of mythical significance.
By simply wandering up the main road, I found myself at what soon became my favorite site in Bern: the Zytglogge, or Clock Tower. The beautiful clock is not only the center of town, but also a work of art. The tower is an astronomical clock, which has dials to depict the time, date, astronomical positions of certain stars and planets, and even zodiac constellations – a pretty amazing feat, considering the clock was built in 1530. But the best part? Every hour, the clock puts on a show. Symbolic and mythological figures adorn the ornate clock, and, starting a few minutes before every hour, they begin to announce the time, from the crowing of a rooster to dancing bears and the god Saturn turning his sickle and mace.
Hidden Gems in Bern, Switzerland
I proceeded on to Parliament Square, where the green-topped buildings offer an impressive sight. But even more to my liking was the walkway hidden behind the Parliament buildings, which offers a quiet path dotted with gorgeous gardens and views. Bern’s many gardens were one of my favorite parts of the city, with their lovely statues and fountains, greenery galore, and plenty of places to sit and get lost in a good book.
Finally, I stopped for a drink at The Granary, a building which originally stored grain and wine, but now houses a large restaurant and bar. The ornately decorated building is truly beautiful, with high, painted ceilings that are worth a stop to see.
Though these were my favorite parts of my tour through Bern, the town offers many other charming and historic sites to explore.
Written By Kelly Rosenfeld
As a child, Kelly Rosenfeld was thoroughly spoiled by parents who took her on yearly vacations and never told her to be a doctor instead of a writer. Today, she holds a degree in English and Creative Writing from UCLA, and has found a way to turn her childhood dreams into reality – in Bern, Switzerland and beyond.