Bern or Berne is the capital of Switzerland.
The city is situated on the Swiss plateau in the canton of Bern, slightly west of the center of Switzerland and 20 km (12 mi) north of the Alps.
As of August 2019, the population of Bern is about 140,000 people.
The city covers a total area of 52 square kilometers (20 square miles).
The average altitude is 540 meters (1,770 feet) above sea level.
The city of Bern, founded in 1191 and first mentioned in a document in 1208, grew to become the biggest aristocratic city-state north of the Alps and a major power in the Old Swiss Confederacy.
Gradually it extended its power by acquiring surrounding territory, becoming an independent state that in 1353 entered the Swiss Confederation, which it soon began to lead.
Bern was the scene of a disputation in 1528 between Roman Catholics and Reformers that led to its acceptance and subsequent championship of Protestant doctrines.
French troops occupied Berne 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, when the Swiss confederation was replaced with a centralized federal government, Berne became the Swiss capital.
A number of congresses of the socialist First and Second Internationals were held in Bern, particularly during World War I when Switzerland was neutral. Bern was home to Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, who remained there few years.
During World War II, detailed invasion plans were drawn up by the Germans, but Switzerland was never attacked.
In 1983, the historic old town in the center of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built on a narrow hill surrounded on three sides by the river Aare, its compact layout has remained essentially unchanged since its construction during the twelfth to the fifteenth century. Despite a major fire in 1405, after which much of the city was rebuilt in sandstone, and substantial construction efforts in the 18th century, Bern’s old city has retained its medieval character.
Bern Minster is a Swiss Reformed cathedral, in the old city of Bern. Built in the Gothic style, its construction started in 1421. Its tower, with a height of 100.6 m (330 ft), was only completed in 1893. It is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland and is a Cultural Property of National Significance.
The Zytglogge is a landmark medieval tower in the old city of Bern. Built in the early 13th century, it has served the city as guard tower, prison, clock tower, centre of urban life and civic memorial. Despite the many redecorations and renovations it has undergone in its 800 years of existence, the Zytglogge is one of Bern’s most recognisable symbols and the oldest monument of the city, and with its 15th-century astronomical clock, a major tourist attraction.
The Bärengraben, or Bear Pit, is a tourist attraction in the Swiss capital city of Bern. It is a bear pit, or enclosure housing bears, situated at the eastern edge of the old city of Bern, next to the Nydeggbrücke and the River Aar. Although still in use, the Bärengraben has been supplemented since 2009 by the adjacent BärenPark, a larger and more natural enclosure alongside the River Aar.
The Museum of Fine Arts Bern established in 1879 in Bern, is the oldest art museum in Switzerland with a permanent collection. Its holdings run from the Middle Ages to the present. It houses works by Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Ferdinand Hodler, Meret Oppenheim, Ricco Wassmer and Adolf Wolfli. The collection consists of over 3,000 paintings and sculptures as well as 48,000 drawings, prints, photographs, videos and films.
The Bern Historical Museum is the second largest historical museum in Switzerland. The museum contains collections related to the history of Bern from prehistoric times to the present and other artefacts on permanent display from Asia, Oceania, America and Egypt. First conceived as a temporary exhibition in 2005, the Einstein Museum became a museum dedicated to the life and work of Albert Einstein, who developed the Relativity Theory while living in Bern.
The Einsteinhaus (Einstein House) is a museum and a former residence of Albert Einstein. It is located on Kramgasse No. 49 in Bern, Switzerland. A flat on the second floor of the house was occupied by Einstein, his wife Mileva Marić, and their son Hans Einstein from 1903 to 1905.
The Rose Garden is one of the most beautiful parks in Bern and offers an unrivaled view over the rooftops of the historic Old Town, the Minster and the loop in the Aare river. Enchanting cherry blossoms in spring, around 250 types of blooming roses in summer.
The etymology of the name Bern is uncertain.
Local legend has it that Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, the founder of the City of Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt; as this turned out to be a bear, the city had both its name and its heraldic beast. However, the connection between Bern and Bär (bear) is a folk etymology.
It has long been considered likely that the city was named after the Italian city of Verona, which at the time was known as Bern in Middle High German.
The official language in Bern is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the most-spoken language is an Alemannic Swiss German dialect, Bernese German.