Bern, the UNESCO World Heritage Capital

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No other city has preserved its historical character as well as Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Featuring six kilometres of arcades, the medieval core of Bern is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.

The River Aare embraces the historic centre of Bern – the capital of Switzerland and home to its federal bodies – on three sides. At the time when the city was founded by Duke Berthold V of Zähringen in 1191, the river was an important natural and strategic protection against invaders. Today, it is a picturesque setting for the medieval old town and, in the summer season, a source of amusement for swimmers cooling off in its waters.

The old town of Bern is part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage. It has retained its original structure with three longitudinal axes, adapting it to the needs and functions of a modern capital. It still boasts 6 kilometres of arcades, one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe, and an old-world atmosphere with numerous fountains, brick facades, alleys, historic towers, etc.

The best view of the ancient city can be obtained from the Rose Garden, on the banks of the Bear Park, or from the platform of the 101-metre tower of the Cathedral. The ancient ramparts descend steeply towards the shore. The shops, cafés and café-theatres in the old town, some of which are housed in vaulted cellars, and the small cafés attract Bernese and tourists alike.

Bern is not only known for its historical heritage, but also boasts pearls that tell of its modernity: the Zentrum Paul Klee (Paul Klee Centre), designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, houses 4,000 of Klee's 10,000 works: paintings, watercolours and drawings, as well as biographical material on the artist, who spent half his life in Bern. Piano's building is itself an attraction worth seeing. The architect has created a green island from which emerge three hills of glass and steel, which house exhibition rooms, a hall for concerts and events, a children's museum, plenary rooms and seminar rooms. Klee's works are exhibited in a regularly rotating selection of 120 to 150 works, each time based on a different theme.

Bern, by train

Lovers of history and contemporary art can easily reach Bern from Italy by train, thanks to a joint promotion by Trenitalia and the Swiss Federal Railways, whereby if you travel as a couple you only pay for one of the two 1st or 2nd class tickets. The offer, valid from 9 March to 16 April, connects the main cities of Northern Italy, (Milan, Genoa, Bologna and Venice), with several Swiss centres: Basel, Bern, Lausanne, Lugano, Zurich, Geneva.

More information on the Trenitalia and Swiss Federal Railways 2-for-1 Promo:
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