Weekend Breaks to Bern
Planning a short break to Bern? Check out Travel Library's recommended Top 10 Things To Do in Bern. It's a perfect companion for weekend city breaks to Bern. Once you've been you can add your own tips and suggestions to help other visitors.
Top 10 Things in Bern on a Short Break
This is no ordinary clock because just a few minutes before the hour people gather around the clock to watch a show put on by some colorful mechanical figures that emerge from the clock. The performance mesmerizes both adults and children alike and there is never short of an audience. This is the city's major landmark, which locally goes by the name zytglogge.
There are tours that can tell you exactly what makes the clock tick and you can get more information from on this from the local tourist office.
The clock was built in 1191 as the western gate to the town and it dominates town centre.
The scientist who discovered the theory of relativity lived here from 1903 to 1905. Some of his scientific papers and photographs are still in the house which is on Kramg 49 between the clock tower and cathedral.
With seven floors of the museum at your disposal, it is best to select your interests before you start. The ground floor is generally given over to temporary exhibits.
There is a scale model of Bern in 1800 which should interest most visitors to the city. In the basement there is a porcelain and silver collection while the top floor is full of archaeological finds. To give the museum an international flavour, there is an Islamic collection. In the Trojan Hall, there are suits of armour and weapons.
The museum is located in a castle that was built in 1894.
Locally known as the Kunstmuseum, its strong attraction is the collection of works by celebrated artist Paul Klee whose collection of 2 000 pieces at the museum is the largest in the world. Then, there is the smattering of other works by 19th and 20th century artists.
For more information go to: www.kunstmuseumbern.ch
Locally, this is called the Bundehauser, the home of the Swiss federal assembly. When parliament is not in session guided tours are available to take you around the chambers where you should look our for a spectacular mural of Lake Luzern. The guide will also tell you something about the Swiss constitution which is noted for its position on neutrality.
Bears are the city mascots and you will see images of bears from Bern's coat of arms to the locally made umbrellas and chocolates. But at the Bear Pits, which are two large sunken dens, you see live bears begging for tidbits from the tourists or just busy up to some tricks. Bears have been entertaining visitors at this site since 1857.
It would be easy to merely describe this is a popular place for a Sunday stroll which off course it certainly is. But at any time of the week most people are enthralled by the 200 kinds of roses and 200 varieties of irises that are on display. From the garden you also get a splendid view of the bridges and major buildings in downtown Bern. Adding to the ambience is its location by the Aare River.
The city is a World Heritage Site known for its perfectly preserved sandstone arcades and painted fountains. Underneath the famous arcades are stretches of covered walkways lined on either side with shops, bars, theatres and people just walking or dawdling and the smell of fresh roasted coffee. These are often described as the longest shopping archways in the world.
Traffic is kept out of the area.
You can climb up a 254 spiral staircase in the cathedral to enjoy panoramic views of Bern. But Bern's famous cathedral has so much history behind it that it is just as well that tourists can get lots of information from the shop on the site, and off course some souvenirs.
The cathedral was designed to be spacious enough for half Bern's population to worship at one time. Construction took 25 years, from 1573 to 1598 but the finishing touches, the top of the 100 m steeple, the highest in Switzerland, was only added in 1893. During the Reformation, it converted from a Catholic to Protestant church.
At the entrance is a magnificent representation of the Last Judgment composed of 234 carved figures of angels and demons.
On Blumenrain 8 is this hotel that has seen a lot of comings and goings in its history. Princess Victoria once stayed here as did Charles Dickens and Picasso.
The history books, however, will tell a story of how three kings met here nearly 1 000 years ago and held a meeting that joined Burgundy to the Roman empire, thus shaping a part of Swiss history. The young general Napoleon Bonaparte stayed here in 1797 and the hotel has a suite named for him decorated in empire style.
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