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Old City of Berne
Site number:
Type of site: Cultural
Date: 12th century
Date of Inscription: 1983
Location: Europe, Switzerland, Canton of Berne
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Description: Founded on a hill site in the 12th century, Berne is encircled by the Aare River. Over the centuries it has developed corresponding to a remarkably articulate planning concept. The Old City’s buildings, dating from a range of periods, consist of 15th-century arcades and 16th-century fountains. Though most of the medieval town was renovated during the 18th century, it has maintained its original quality. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  The city of Berne is the Bundesstadt (federal city, de facto capital) of Switzerland and, with 140,000 people, is the fourth most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich, Geneva and Basel). Duke Berthold 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. Berne's city center is largely medieval and has been recognised by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site. Perhaps its most famous sight is the Zytglogge, an elaborate medieval clock tower with moving puppets. It also has an impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral, the Münster, and a 15th century town hall. Thanks to 6 kilometers of arcades, the old town boasts one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe. Since the 16th century, the city has had a bear pit (the Bärengraben), which can be visited off the far end of the Nydeggbrücke. The Federal Building (Bundeshaus), dating from 1902, which houses Parliament and part of the federal administration, can also be visited at opening hours. The Garden of Roses (Rosengarten), from where a scenic panorama view of the medieval city core can be enjoyed, is a well-kept Rosary on a hill, converted into a park from a former cemetery in 1913. Probably the newest attraction of Berne is the set of fountains in front of the Bundeshaus. It was inaugurated on August 1, 2004, the Swiss national day. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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