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Coat of arms of Bern
State : SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
Canton : Canton BernCanton Bern Bern (BE)
Administrative district : Bern-Mittellandw
BFS no. : 0351i1 f3 f4
Postal code : 3000-3030
UN / LOCODE : CH BRN (including Belp Airport )
Coordinates : 600670  /  199655 coordinates: 46 ° 56 '53 "  N , 7 ° 26' 51"  O ; CH1903:  600 670  /  199655
Height : 542  m above sea level M.
Height range : 481–675 m above sea level M.
Area : 51.62  km²
Residents: i133,883 (December 31, 2018)
Population density : 2594 inhabitants per km²
Proportion of foreigners :
(residents without
citizenship )
24.1% (end of 2,019)
Unemployment rate : 2.9% (March 2,020)
City President : Alec von Graffenried ( GFL )
Aerial view of downtown Bern, June 2005

Aerial view of downtown Bern, June 2005

Location of the municipality
Bielersee Gerzensee (Gewässer) Moossee Moossee Murtensee Neuenburgersee Thunersee Wohlensee Clavaleyres Münchenwiler Kanton Freiburg Kanton Neuenburg Kanton Solothurn Kanton Freiburg Kanton Waadt Verwaltungskreis Berner Jura Verwaltungskreis Biel/Bienne Verwaltungskreis Emmental Verwaltungskreis Frutigen-Niedersimmental Verwaltungskreis Interlaken-Oberhasli Verwaltungskreis Oberaargau Verwaltungskreis Obersimmental-Saanen Verwaltungskreis Seeland Verwaltungskreis Thun Allmendingen bei Bern Arni BE Bäriswil Belp Bern Biglen Bolligen Bowil Bremgarten bei Bern Brenzikofen Deisswil bei Münchenbuchsee Diemerswil Ferenbalm Ferenbalm Fraubrunnen Frauenkappelen Freimettigen Gerzensee BE Grosshöchstetten Guggisberg Gurbrü Häutligen Herbligen Iffwil Ittigen Jaberg Jegenstorf Jegenstorf Kaufdorf Kehrsatz Kiesen Kirchdorf BE Kirchlindach Köniz Konolfingen Kriechenwil Landiswil Laupen Linden BE Mattstetten Meikirch Mirchel Moosseedorf Mühleberg Münchenbuchsee Münsingen Muri bei Bern Neuenegg Niederhünigen Niedermuhlern Oberbalm Oberdiessbach Oberhünigen Oberthal BE Oppligen Ostermundigen Riggisberg Rubigen Rüeggisberg Rüeggisberg Rümligen Rüschegg Schwarzenburg BE Stettlen Thurnen Toffen Urtenen-Schönbühl Vechigen Wald BE Walkringen Wichtrach Wiggiswil Wileroltigen Wohlen bei Bern Worb Zäziwil Zollikofen Zuzwil BEMap of Bern
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Bern  [ bɛrn ] ( French Berne [ bɛʁn ], Italian Berna [ ˈbɛrna ], Rhaeto-Romanic Berna ? / I , Bern German Bärn [ ˈpæ̞ːrn ]) is a political municipality in Switzerland and, as a federal city, de facto its capital (see also the question of the capital of Switzerland ) . Bern is the capital of the canton of the same name and is in the Bern-Mittelland administrative district of this canton. The city is not only the seat of the urban and cantonal, but as a federal city also of the federal administration and thus the largest administrative center in Switzerland. Please click to listen!Play Audio file / audio sample

The Zähringer town , founded in 1191, has been partially preserved in its original form with its characteristic arcades . Free imperial city since 1218 , Bern joined the Confederation in 1353 and developed into the largest city-state north of the Alps by the 16th century . In 1983 the old town of Bern was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List .

The city of Bern has a total population of 143,278 (as of December 31, 2019). After Zurich , Geneva , Basel and Lausanne and before Winterthur , it is one of the most populous communities with over 100,000 inhabitants in Switzerland.

For years, Bern, along with Zurich and Geneva, has been listed as one of the cities with the world's highest cost of living .

In the agglomeration of Bern , to which 70 municipalities belong, the permanent resident population is 419,983 people (as of 2018).

The city of Bern is the center of the Bern-Mittelland administrative region and the Bern-Mittelland regional conference with its sub-conference for the Bern Economic Area . Efforts have also been made for a long time to position the city and the agglomeration even more clearly as the capital region of Switzerland . Members there are the cantons of Bern, Friborg, Valais, Neuchâtel and Solothurn as well as cities, municipalities and regional organizations.


The city of Bern lies at 542  m above sea level. M. in the Swiss Plateau on both sides of the Aare between the local mountain Gurten in the south and the Bantiger in the east. The Aare flows around the old town of Bern with a loop extending to the east (Aare loop). It is sunk around 30 to 50 meters deep into the surroundings in the area of ​​the old town and to the north of it with a narrow valley.


Untertorbrücke in Bern
Kramgasse in Bern
The Aare loop

Topographically, the municipal area of ​​the city of Bern is located in the Swiss plateau and covers an area of ​​51.60 square kilometers. It extends in a west-east direction over a length of 15 kilometers, while the average width in north-south direction is around four kilometers. The old observatory (today demolished and replaced by the Institute for Exact Sciences) forms the historical center of the national survey of Switzerland and bears the Swiss national coordinates 600,000 / 200,000.

The landscape-forming factor is the Aare, which flows into the area from the southeast. The Aare valley, which is still wide just outside the municipality, narrows noticeably and forms a narrow valley leg from the beginning of the river bend around the old town. The valley floor is here at around 500  m above sea level. M. After just recently, a straight run to the north below the old town arch, the river arm system follows the plateau of Tiefenau and Felsenau. From around the mouth of the Worble river below the Tiefenau, the Aare marks the northern municipal boundary. Still cut into the surrounding plateau, it continues to flow westward. Its course widens due to the damming of the Wohlensee .

To the east of the Aare is a plateau, which is on average 550  m above sea level. M. lies. It is largely populated and has extensive areas of both commercial and industrial use, sports facilities ( Wankdorf Stadium ) and traffic areas. Individual hills such as the Schärmenwald ( 588  m above sea level ) and the Schosshalde ( 590  m above sea level ) are covered with forest. In the far east, the urban area extends to the foot of the Ostermundigenberg. The part of the Bern plateau to the west of the Aare also reaches a height of around 550  m above sea level. M. northwest of the settlement area includes the approximately 5 square kilometers Bremgartenwald on. It falls in the north with a steep step to the Aare valley and is subdivided by several short erosion valleys . Between the district of Bümpliz and the suburb of Köniz is the Könizbergwald, a wooded ridge, at 674  m above sea level. M. the highest elevation of the municipal area of ​​the city.

The long western tip of the municipal area is rural. The area shows various hollows, formerly boggy depressions (for example the Bottigenmoos) and hills, but overall is only slightly reliefed. It is drained to the Aare by the Gäbelbach, whose valley is deepened up to 80 meters into the surroundings in the lower part. In addition to smaller settlements, there are extensive arable and meadow areas that lead south to the large wooded area of ​​the forest (up to 660  m above sea level ).

In the 2006 survey, 44.2 percent of the total area of ​​the city of Bern were identified as settlement, industrial, commercial and traffic areas, 33.5 percent as forests and woodlands and 20.2 percent as agricultural areas. The remaining 2.1 percent figure as unproductive space .


Aerial view of Bern, looking south-east, July 2009

Geologically, Bern is located in the Molasse basin of the Swiss Plateau. In the course of the Tertiary the basin was filled with the debris from the emerging Alps , whereby the sediments can be divided into different layers.

The substrate in the Bern area consists of sediments of the Lower Freshwater Molasse that in Aquitanium were deposited in the period before about 23 to 20 million years. The so-called Gümmenen layers contain relatively soft sandstones of different grain sizes with interposed, often reddish marls . These sediments, the dimensions of which are estimated at around 800 meters in the Bern area, were transported here by rivers from the Alps. Major deposition and redeployment events occurred particularly during floods and inundations, which explains the rapid horizontal and vertical changes in the individual layers. In the very south of the area, the Gümmenen layers are covered by the scythe layers of upper sea molasses deposited in the Burdigalium 20 to 16 million years ago. This solid, banked sandstone contains glauconite and is widely used as a building block in Bern's old town.

The surface forms in the urban area of ​​Bern are characterized by ice age deposits that range from a few meters to over 50 meters. During the Ice Ages , the Aare Glacier advanced far beyond Bern into the Central Plateau and joined here with the Rhone Glacier . While only a few witnesses of the older glacier advances have survived on the surface (especially old moraines in the Aare valley), the plateaus on both sides of the Aare valley in the area of ​​the city of Bern, the Bremgarten forest and the forest area consist of gravel . These were deposited as part of the advance and retreat of the Worm Ice Age Aare Glacier, which had reached its maximum extent around 20,000 years ago. In contrast to the Nagelfluh, the gravel shows only weakly consolidated layers of gravel , which contain up to 20 centimeters large blocks of flysch sandstone and silica limestone from the Bernese Alps . In between there are sandy layers. Gravel mining is therefore carried out in numerous places in the Bern region. Remnants of a terminal moraine that emerged when the Aare Glacier last retreated, the so-called Bern Stadium, form a series of hills that extend from the Steinhölzli to the Veielihubel, the Falkenhöhe at the university, the Rosengarten and the Schönberg to the Schosshalde.


The city of Bern is located in the moderate climatic zone with deciduous forests ( effective climate classification Cfb). As in all of Switzerland, the individual seasons are very pronounced north of the Alps . On average it rains about 90 mm per month and 1060 mm per year. At around 120 mm per month, it rains about twice as much in summer as in winter due to the predominantly convective precipitation ; On average, more than one millimeter of precipitation can be expected on 124 days a year. The measuring station of the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss) is located in the suburb of Zollikofen , at 553  m above sea level. M. , approx. 5 km north of the city center (as the crow flies ).

The annual mean temperature is 8.8 ° C, with the coldest monthly temperatures in January at −0.4 ° C and the warmest monthly mean temperatures in July at 18.3 ° C. On average, around 104 frost days and 23 ice days are to be expected here. There are around 42 summer days on an annual average, while 6.3 hot days are normally recorded; in particularly hot summers it can get around 37 ° C.

With an average of 1683 hours of sunshine per year, Bern has a relatively high tanning rate compared to other measuring stations in the Central Plateau of German-speaking Switzerland. The maximum value for the average duration of sunshine in January was reached in 2020 with 137.4 hours. This broke the long-standing record of 1949 with 103.7 hours by far.

The mean wind speed in the measurement period from 1981 to 2000 was 1.6 m / s, with winds from southwest and northeast ( bise ) predominating. The highest mean wind speeds are achieved with westerly winds.

Bern 1981–2010
Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSwiss)
Monthly average temperatures and precipitation for Bern 1981–2010
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 2.8 4.7 9.5 13.4 18.2 21.6 24.3 23.7 19.1 13.8 7.3 3.5 O 13.5
Min. Temperature (° C) -3.6 -3.1 0.2 3.0 7.4 10.5 12.5 12.3 8.9 5.4 0.4 -2.3 O 4.3
Temperature (° C) -0.4 0.7 4.7 8.1 12.7 16.0 18.3 17.7 13.7 9.3 3.7 0.6 O 8.8
Precipitation ( mm ) 60 55 73 82 119 111 106 116 99 88 76 74 Σ 1,059
Hours of sunshine ( h / d ) 2.1 3.1 4.4 5.3 5.9 6.8 7.6 7.0 5.5 3.6 2.3 1.6 O 4.6
Rainy days ( d ) 9.6 9.0 10.6 10.4 12.6 11.1 10.8 10.7 8.9 10.4 10.2 9.9 Σ 124.2
Humidity ( % ) 84 79 73 71 73 71 71 73 79 84 85 85 O 77.3
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

City structure and neighboring communities


The urban area of ​​Bern is divided into six districts , which in turn are divided into a total of 32 statistical districts . Below there is the level of 114 Common Quarters.

The core of the settlement area is the old town of Bern , known as the Inner City as part of the city . Since the Napoleonic occupation of 1798, this has been divided into five quarters marked with color. The city center is bordered by the Länggasse-Felsenau district in the north-west and north , Breitenrain-Lorraine in the north, Kirchenfeld-Schosshalde in the east and south - east and Mattenhof-Weissenbühl in the south-west and north-east . Only the Bümpliz-Oberbottigen district is further to the west.

The following table compares the city districts and statistical districts of Bern. All population figures of the resident population within Bern are provided by Statistics City of Bern , the responsible specialist office. They include all persons registered in the city of Bern by means of a certificate of origin , identity card or foreigner identity card (including secondary residence and non-permanent residents). This difference to the figures usually used by the BfS is justified by the fact that everyone has to be taken into account when planning the infrastructure of Bern.

district Statistical districts Area
(in  ha )

Proportion of foreigners
I inner city

Yellow quarter  • Green quarter  • Red quarter  • Black quarter (mat)  • White quarter

84 4,688 20.3%
II Länggasse-Felsenau

Engeried  • Felsenau  • Länggasse  • Muesmatt  • Neufeld  • Stadtbach

1134 19,761 19.2%
III Mattenhof-Weissenbühl

Holligen  • Mattenhof  • Monbijou  • Sandrain  • Weissenbühl  • Weissenstein

693 31,350 23.1%
IV Kirchenfeld-Schosshalde

Beundenfeld  • Brunnadern  • Gryphenhübeli  • Kirchenfeld  • Murifeld  • Schosshalde

844 27'130 20.7%
V Breitenrain-Lorraine

Altenberg  • Breitenrain  • Breitfeld  • Lorraine  • Spitalacker

384 25,706 18.4%
VI Bümpliz-Oberbottigen

Bethlehem  • Bümpliz  • Oberbottigen  • Stöckacker

2023 34,643 35.1%
Bern total 5162 143'278 24.1%

Bern borders on eleven municipalities: in the north on Bremgarten bei Bern , Kirchlindach , Wohlen bei Bern and Zollikofen , in the east on Ittigen , Muri bei Bern and Ostermundigen , in the south on Köniz and in the west on Frauenkappelen , Mühleberg and Neuenegg .

Statistical districts of Bern and neighboring communities
Common quarters in Bern and neighboring communities

Agglomeration and possible mergers

The population of the entire agglomeration of Bern, to which 70 municipalities belong, is given as 419,983 people in 2018. Without the city of Bern, there are 286,100 people. 262,943 people live in the so-called main agglomeration core (14 municipalities), 129,060 people without the city of Bern, 157,040 people in the agglomeration belt and secondary core. The Bern-Mittelland regional conference has 414,658 people, 280,775 people without the city of Bern. Since 1930 the area of ​​the agglomeration has expanded several times. The Bern-Mittelland administrative district is not much larger.

The municipalities Bolligen , Bremgarten bei Bern , Frauenkappelen , Kehrsatz and Ostermundigen examined as part of a feasibility study co Bern the opportunities and risks of a merger with Bern. Bolligen does not border on Bern and would then be connected to Bern via Ostermundigen. If the outcome is positive, referendums are planned for mid-2023 and, if approved, the first joint elections for autumn 2024.

More localities named Bern

Several localities in the United States of America were named after the city of Bern . The best known is the port city of New Bern in North Carolina , founded in 1710 by the Bern patrician Christoph von Graffenried , where the Pepsi- Cola was invented. In addition, in the states of Idaho ( Bern, Idaho ), California ( Bern, California ), Kansas ( Bern, Kansas ), Pennsylvania and Wisconsin ( Bern, Wisconsin ) there is a place called Bern - in the American television series «Jericho» New Bern, Kansas - Written in Indiana and New York Berne . The Italian Verona was out of date in German also called Bern and vice versa Bern Verona in Üechtland .



Tschachtlan chronicle : Duke Berchtold V. von Zähringen kills the bear in front of the city of Bern

The name of the city of Bern is documented for the first time in a document dated December 1, 1208. There are several explanations for the origin of the city name, which has not yet been clarified, some of which are based on old legends and interpretations.

  • The best-known legend is that of the Justinger Chronicle , after which the city's founder, Duke Berchtold V von Zähringen, decided to name the city after the first animal killed in the surrounding forests. This is said to have been a bear. A connection between bear and Bern has no linguistic basis, but is a folk etymology that is illustrated with the bear in the Bern coat of arms.
  • According to the lexicon, the “most convincing suggestion” at the current state of research is the Swiss community names . the derivation of the name of the city of Bern from the Celtic word berna . This is evidenced by the Central Irish meaning “chasm” or “slit”, which as a place or field name could have designated a specific place or a section of the Aare. This term, after being used by a Gallo-Roman- speaking population, could have been borrowed into German.

Foundation and Middle Ages

From the Tschachtlan chronicle: Foundation of the city
Growth of the territory of the city of Bern until 1798

The area of ​​the city of Bern had been populated since the Latène period at the latest . The oldest documented settlement was probably one since the second half of the 2nd century BC. Fortified Celtic settlement on the narrow peninsula . In Roman times there was a Gallo-Roman vicus on the narrow peninsula , which was abandoned between 165 and 211 AD.

Numerous grave fields have been documented for the early Middle Ages , for example in Bümpliz, where there is a Mauritius church from the 7th to 9th centuries and a royal court from the time of the High Burgundian kingdom with a wooden defensive system.

At the end of the 12th century, today's city of Bern was founded by Duke Berchtold V von Zähringen . The Cronica de Berno states 1191 as the year of foundation. After the Zähringer died out, Bern became a free imperial city according to the Golden Handfeste in 1218 . King Rudolf I of Habsburg confirmed Bern's imperial freedom in 1274 and imposed an imperial tax on the city, to which a fine was added after the defeat at Schosshalde in 1289. As protection against the Counts of Kyburg , who had inherited the Zähringer, Bern chose the patronage of Savoy . With the victory against the city ​​of Freiburg near " Dornbühl ", which was bought by Habsburg in 1298, Bern's territorial policy began.

In 1339, thanks to the support of the Confederates , the Bernese won an important victory against the surrounding noble houses in the Laupenkrieg , thus laying the foundation for the rise of the city-state. The alliance with the Central Swiss Waldstätten , which had existed since 1323 and was renewed in 1341 , was confirmed again in 1353. The network of alliances with Zurich, Lucerne and the Waldstätten culminated in the Confederation . Participation in the Burgundian Wars from 1474 to 1477 brought Bern first land gains in the canton of Vaud . The city of Bern saw itself as a state since the 15th century.

16th to 18th century

The oldest view of the city of Bern, woodcut from 1549
Bern around 1638, Merian-Stich,
left in the picture the jumps

In February 1528, the Reformation supported by the city under Berchtold Haller prevailed in Bern. With the conquest of Vaud in 1536, Bern became the largest city-state north of the Alps. In 1648, in the Peace of Westphalia , Bern was given full state sovereignty and finally separated from the Empire . Despite the increase in power and territory, the medieval oligarchic form of government of the Ancien Régime remained in place until the end of the 18th century: the Grand Council, as the highest decision-making body, always had between 200 and 299 members. The circle of effectively ruling families, the actual patriciate , shrank drastically in the course of the 18th century. Members of the Grand Council formed the Small Council, the actual government. At the head was the ruling mayor .

Political ferment was in the city ​​and republic of Bern in the 18th century . In 1723 Major Davel revolted against the Bernese rule in Vaud . On January 27, 1798, French troops marched into the Bernese Vaud and subsequently advanced further and further into Switzerland. After the government had already capitulated, Bern had to admit defeat after the battle of Grauholz at the beginning of March , despite fierce resistance . In addition, Bern lost the previously dependent areas of Waadtland and Aargau and temporarily the Bernese Oberland .

From May 1802 to March 1803, Bern was the capital of the Helvetic Republic . Before that, Aarau (until September 1798) and Lucerne (until May 1799) were capitals.

19th century

In 1815, in the course of the restoration , Bern was given the status of a suburb and served as the seat of government of the confederation of states every two years . On January 14, 1831, in the course of regeneration , the patrician government abdicated and paved the way for elections in the canton. With the constitution of 1831, the priority of the city of Bern, which became the capital of the canton, was repealed in the canton. In 1832, in addition to the civil parish, the new residents' parish, in which all resident citizens with a minimum fortune were entitled to vote, was created. On September 5, 1832, the cantonal government declared the constitution of the city of Bern to be repealed and the city council to be deposed. Even in the new community, the patriciate and burger retained the majority. In the following decades, the city of Bern remained conservatively governed and thus stood in contrast to the free-thinking canton. It was not until 1886 that the conservative majority in the city parliament and government was replaced by a free-thinking one. In 1887, the municipal assembly was abolished and instead ballot and balloting was introduced. Since the establishment of the so-called First International in 1864, the workers in Bern had organized themselves in various associations, and the Social Democratic Party of Bern was founded in 1877. The newspaper Berner Tagwacht , which continued to exist until 1997, was founded in 1893, the year of the Käfigturm riot , a workers' uprising that was suppressed with the help of federal troops. In May 1895, the city of Bern was one of the first municipalities in Switzerland to introduce proportional representation for municipal elections. In the same year Gustav Müller was elected to the local council as the first Social Democrat ; In 1899 there were already two representatives of the Social Democrats in the Bern government.

Bern as a federal city

The first Federal City Hall from 1857, today Federal Palace West

The opposition to a central capital in relation to the capital issue of Switzerland was taken into account by choosing a federal city ​​instead of a capital as the seat of the federal government, federal assembly and federal administration. The choice of the Federal Assembly fell on Bern. The National Council, Council of States and Federal Council met in three different buildings in the city before the first so-called Federal Council House was inaugurated in 1857.

As a federal city, Bern became attractive for international organizations. In 1868 Bern became the seat of the International Telegraph Union, founded three years earlier in Paris (since 1934 International Telecommunication Union [ITU]). On October 9, 1874, the General Postal Union of 22 states was founded in Bern, in 1878 it was renamed the Universal Postal Union and in 1947 a special agency of the United Nations , the headquarters remained in Bern. The negotiations to standardize the minimum technical requirements for international rail traffic were conducted in Bern from 1882 to 1886; the State Treaty called Technical Unity in Railways , which came into force in 1887, contains, among other things, a provision known as the Bern area . In 1886 the Bern Convention for the Protection of Works of Literature and Art was signed in Bern; In 1893, the International Bureau for Intellectual Property, based in Bern, was the predecessor of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) . The Ligue Internationale de la Paix and the Inter-Parliamentary Union , which were honored with Nobel Peace Prizes, were also based in Bern.

20th and 21st centuries

Aerial photo from 1919

In 1914, the Swiss National Exhibition took place in Bern, which was visited by around 3.2 million people and ended with an income surplus of almost 35,000 francs, despite the First World War, which was ongoing at the same time .

In 1918 the art gallery was opened with an overview of Bern's artistic creation. In the art museum , which had existed since 1879, works by Paul Klee were exhibited as early as 1910 .

With the incorporation of Bümpliz in 1919, the municipal area was expanded for the only time in the history of Bern. After the Social Democrats briefly gained an absolute majority in the city and municipal council at the end of World War I, there was mostly a narrow bourgeois majority during the 20th century.

Women in the municipality of Bern have had the right to vote and vote since 1968, and in 1988 the age of voting and voting rights was reduced from 20 to 18 years.

Bern experienced a cultural heyday in the 1960s. In the small and cellar theaters, pieces by contemporary authors were performed, and the dialect was revived with Kurt Marti and the Bernese chansons of the Bernese Troubadours , Berner Trouvères and Mani Matter . The Bern rock band Span started a new Swiss dialect rock . Under Harald Szeemann , the Kunsthalle became an exhibition forum for the avant-garde . In 1968, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Kunsthalle , the artist Christo was given the first opportunity to pack a building.

As a result of the 1968 youth movement , the gas boilers of the disused gasworks were converted into a youth center. The 1980s youth riots in Bern led to the conversion of the centrally located riding school , which had already been a social center of Bern after it opened in 1897, as an alternative cultural center and the establishment of the steam center as another cultural center. The Zaffaraya alternative housing project that emerged from the squatting scene also continues to exist.

In the municipal elections of 1992, the “RotGrünMitte” (RGM) electoral alliance won the majority in the city and municipal council for the first time - this left-green majority has steadily consolidated since then. Otherwise, the beginning of the 21st century was marked by the renovation of the Bern train station , the serious riots on the occasion of a move by the national-conservative SVP in the city center in October 2007 and the European Football Championship in 2008 . In 2017, Bern was one of ten Swiss locations that had been awarded the label “ Reformation City of Europe ” by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe .


Population development

Population development from
1750 to 2014

The city of Bern owes its growth primarily to immigration from the countryside.

When it was founded at the end of the 12th century, the city had around 500 inhabitants, 100 years later there were probably already 3,000. In the following centuries, the population increased steadily despite the rampant plague and had grown to 5,000 by the middle of the 15th century. After a decline in the second half of the 15th century, the population continued to grow in the centuries that followed. In 1764, when the first population census took place, there were 11,000, around 1800 probably already 12,000 and in 1850 almost 30,000 inhabitants, without the city having significantly enlarged or fundamentally changed.

In the second half of the 19th century, the population doubled and in 1920 exceeded the 100,000 mark. Population growth continued into the 1960s, reaching its preliminary peak in 1963 with over 165,000 inhabitants and then declining.

After a long period with, in some cases, large excess emigration, the number of people emigrated again from the year 2000 onwards. The net migration of families is still negative. Mainly younger individuals (education, work) are moving to the city. Many of them later marry and move as families to the area around the city of Bern. The number of people moving in and out has been significantly lower since the mid-1970s than in previous years. In the past, migratory movements hit or Seasonal workers leave the country heavily.

At the end of December 2015 the population was 140,567, which corresponds to an increase of 1.1% compared to 2014. 75.4% were Swiss and 24.6% foreigners.

Population composition

nationality Share
December 31, 2015
SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland 75.4%
GermanyGermany Germany 4.8%
ItalyItaly Italy 3.0%
SpainSpain Spain 1.6%
PortugalPortugal Portugal 1.2%
KosovoKosovo Kosovo 0.9%
TurkeyTurkey Turkey 0.8%
North MacedoniaNorth Macedonia Macedonia 0.8%
Sri LankaSri Lanka Sri Lanka 0.6%
FranceFrance France 0.6%
SerbiaSerbia Serbia 0.6%
AustriaAustria Austria 0.5%
rest 9.1%
Age pyramid of the population (2007)

104,988 (76.2 percent) of the residents of the city of Bern are Swiss citizens, 32,830 (23.8 percent) are foreign citizens. The largest groups of foreigners come from Germany (6807 people), Italy (4233), Spain (2097), Portugal (1536), Turkey (1184), Macedonia (1136), Kosovo (1095) and Sri Lanka (916). (December 31, 2012)

Bern has a surplus of women; 52.7 percent (68,226) are women, 47.3 percent (61,192) men, but there are striking differences between the Swiss and foreign residents. For every 100 Swiss women there are 83.6 Swiss citizens, but for every 100 foreign women there are 115.6 foreigners.

The average age of the Bernese population fell in the 2000s; in 2008 it was 41 years and nine months. Among the Swiss, men are younger than women, in 2008 an average of 1616 days with a downward trend, while the reverse is true for the foreign resident population. The men are older than the women, 477 days in 2008, and the average age is increasing for both. In 2008 it was 36.05 years for men and 34.75 years for women.

The number of single people in the total population increased in 2015 to 53.2 percent of women and 57.1 percent of men. The number of married people is 29.5 percent of women and 33.6 percent of men. 8.5 percent of the total population are divorced .

Civil rights

The city of Bern is a two-part civil parish . In addition to the community of residents created in 1832 , the civic community of Bern with 13 companies and guilds continued to exist as a publicly recognized staff community with 18,266 members at the end of 2015.


The official and written language in the city of Bern is German. In the federal census of 2000, a good 81 percent of Bern's resident population stated German as their main language, and just under four percent each as French and Italian .

The spoken colloquial language is Bern German , a high Alemannic dialect . The urban Bern dialect shows a social structure that can hardly be observed in other Swiss cities, but is less pronounced today than it was in the middle of the 20th century. One of the most striking features of the “upscale” town Bernese dialect is the lack of the vocalized “L”: For example, milk is called “Milch” and not “Miuch”, I wanted “i ha welle” and not “i ha wöue”. Certain peculiarities characterize the language of the Bernese patriciate , but these are becoming more and more lost. An additional peculiarity of the Bernese German is the adoption of some words from the previous lower class neighborhood mat that the Mattenenglisch of a constructed secret language decreed that is still folkloric maintained. The frequently used words "jiu / ieu" for "ja" or "Giel / Gieu" for "boy / boy" come from Mattebern German.

Religious communities and denominations

City of Bern population according to state-recognized religion / denomination - December 31, 2013
Religion / denomination Swiss other nationality Total population
evangelical reformed 50.5% 5.5% 39.8%
Roman Catholic 19.0% 34.1% 22.5%
Evangelical Lutheran 0.2% 1.8% 0.5%
christ catholic 0.3% 0.5% 0.3%
Israelite 0.2% 0.1% 0.2%

The city and the canton of Bern are familiar with state-recognized religions and denominations: the Evangelical Reformed , the Evangelical Lutheran , the Roman Catholic and the Christian Catholic denominations as well as the Israelite religion.

The majority of the city's population belongs to a religious community. In the 2000 census, only 16,363 (12.7 percent) people described themselves as non-denominational , 7855 gave no answer . In 2012, according to the Federal Statistical Office, 25% of people over the age of 15 were non-religious.

According to the 2000 census, the following proportions of the Swiss resident population resulted: Evangelical Reformed Church almost 59 percent, Roman Catholic Church almost 20 percent, no affiliation a good 13 percent and no information a good 4 percent. Among the foreigners, the Roman Catholic Church is at the top with 43 percent, followed by the Islamic communities with almost 15 percent, the Evangelical Reformed Church with over 5 percent and the Christian Orthodox churches with just under 5 percent. Almost 11 percent of the foreign population does not belong to any religious community, and 13 percent did not answer this question.

Between 1999 and 2009 the Evangelical Reformed Church lost its majority: if 52% of the total population of the city of Bern were members of this church in 1999, it was 44% in 2009 and 39.8% in 2013. The number of Catholics has also decreased: from 27% in 1999 to 24% in 2009 and 22.5% in 2013.


The Evangelical Reformed Church of the Holy Spirit in Bern

The city of Bern has been a Christian city since it was founded. A church was built as early as the end of the 12th century, which, like its successor building, which has been documented as the town church of St. Vincent since 1255, was located in the same place as today's late Gothic cathedral .


After the Reformation had prevailed in Bern with the Bern Disputation in 1528 and church regulations were enacted in 1532, the city formed a single Reformed parish with the minster as the parish church, which was divided into five - today twelve - Reformed parishes in 1720. The French-speaking Protestants had their own church since 1623 with the French Church , the church of the former Dominican monastery , the oldest surviving church in Bern. 46 percent of the city's population, around 60,000 people, are Protestant Reformed. Bern is one of the ten Swiss locations that received the label “ Reformation City of Europe ” in 2017 from the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe .


The Roman Catholic Church, which has not been represented since the Reformation, has again had a parish in the city since 1799, but it was not until 1853 that the Bernese government allowed the Catholic residents to build their own church. The Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul , built next to the town hall from 1858 to 1864, became a Christian Catholic and the seat of the Christian Catholic bishop after the Old or Christian Catholics split off from the Roman Catholic Church after the first Vatican Council in 1876. It has around 300 members.

The oldest Roman Catholic church in the city of Bern is the Trinity Church, consecrated in 1899 after three years of construction . Almost 25 percent of the population of Bern or 31,500 people belong to the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1963 the Italian diaspora church Madonna degli Emigrati was built .


According to the 2000 census, the Christian Orthodox community has fewer than 2000 people.


The Evangelical Community , founded in Bern in 1831 , then Evangelical Society, is one of the largest free church communities. In 1834 the first Free Evangelical Congregation, which is now spread around the world, was founded in Bern . 33 parishes and evangelical associations belong to the local section of the Evangelical Alliance .

There are also the Seventh-day Adventists and two congregations of the New Apostolic Church .


Murder of Rudolf von Bern, Berner Chronik von Diebold Schilling the Elder Ä.

Jews are first mentioned in a document in Bern in 1259. In 1294 they were charged with the ritual murder of a child who was found dead and known as Rudolf von Bern . Although the authorities did not believe that the Jews were guilty, they decided to take advantage of the anger of the population and to drive the Jews out of the city in order to discharge their debts to the Jewish financiers. However, Jews are likely to have resettled in Bern soon afterwards. During the time of the great plague in the middle of the 14th century, they were persecuted and driven out again. The Jews are vilified in the Justinger Chronicle, shortly afterwards they were banned from the city “forever” in 1427 by decision of the mayor and the city council of Bern. The theory, which goes back to Karl Howald , that the Kindlifresserbrunnen built in the middle of the 16th century reminds of the alleged ritual murder and represents a Jew devouring children, is considered outdated.

Since 1848 there has been a Jewish community again in Bern . A first synagogue existed since 1856 in today Genfergasse, the Jewish cemetery was created in 1871, 1906 in what is known is the Moorish style built synagogue inaugurated in Monbijouquartier. In 1996 the Jewish community of Bern was recognized under public law. It has around 300 members.


An Islamic center has existed in Bern since 1979 . The Bernese Muslims have been members of the umbrella organization of Islamic centers and mosque associations in the canton of Bern Umma since 2005 . According to the 2000 census, around 5,000 Muslims live in Bern, around 4 percent of the total population.


The Hindu associations of the city of Bern have almost 1500 members. In 1994 the largest temple in Switzerland was opened in Bern-Bethlehem. There is a Sathya Sai Baba center in Zollikofen near Bern .


Personalities born in the city are included in the list of personalities of the city of Bern , biographies of people with a clear connection to Bern are collected in the Person (Bern) category .


An article in the NZZ described Bern in 2019 as “the left-most big city in Switzerland”. The reason for this is the socio-structural change, whereby there is a difference between city and agglomeration. After major Swiss cities developed into socially disadvantaged areas in the early 1990s, an increased influx of well-educated, wealthy and young people broke the negative spiral and the cities were attractive again as places to live.

Municipal council

The Erlacherhof , seat of the City of Bern government

The City Council of the City of Bern has five members every four years by the voters of the municipality Bern chosen to be. In contrast to other Swiss executives, the Bern municipal council is elected according to the principle of proportional representation. The last election took place on November 27, 2016.

The municipal council meets weekly at the Erlacherhof . Each member heads one of the city's five directorates. The city president chairs the meetings of the municipal council.

Composition of the municipal council Legislature 2017–2020
Surname since Political party Directorate
Alec von Graffenried 2017 GFL City President, Presidential Directorate
Michael Aebersold 2017 SP Finance, Human Resources and IT Directorate
Reto Nause 2009 CVP Vice-Mayor, Directorate for Safety, Environment and Energy
Franziska Teuscher 2013 GB Directorate for Education, Social Affairs and Sport
Ursula Wyss 2013 SP Directorate for Civil Engineering, Transport and Urban Green

City Council

The list of the city presidents of Bern from 1832 can be found in the article List of the city presidents of Bern . The historical composition of the Bern municipal council can be found in the article Municipal Council (Bern)

A member of the Municipal Council will of the voters in a direct election of the mayor elected. He heads the presidential management and chairs the meetings of the municipal council. He also represents the city externally. Alec von Graffenried from the GFL has been the Mayor of Bern since 2017 .

City council

11 24 8th 8th 
A total of 80 seats

The legislature , the city ​​council , has 80 members who, like the municipal council, are elected every four years, for the last time in November 2016, by proportional representation. In the current legislative period , representatives from 15 different lists are represented in the city council. Left and center-left parties together form a clear majority.

The strongest party is the Social Democrats with 22 seats , followed by the left-wing Green Alliance , the SVP and the FDP with nine seats each. The Green Free List (GFL) has eight seats, the Green Liberals seven and the BDP three. The EPP , the CVP , the JUSO , the Young Alternative YES! and the Alternative Left each have two seats. The Young Green Liberals, the radical green Green Alternative Party and the Communist Labor Party are each represented by one person . The diagram opposite shows the distribution of seats in the city council after the election on November 27, 2016.

The city council meets in Bern's town hall, every second Thursday evening. The meetings are public.

The results of the city council elections since 1931 can be found in the article Results of the municipal elections in Bern

National elections

The voting shares of the parties on the occasion of the National Council elections in 2019 were:

28.7% 25.3% 13.5% 9.4% 7.6% 4.2% 2.5% 2.1% 2.1% 1.2% 0.9% 0.7%

* including DM

Town twinning

In contrast to many other cities, the city of Bern does not have town twinning. An exception was the limited city partnership that Bern entered into on the occasion of the 2008 European Football Championship with Salzburg and the three Swiss host cities of Basel, Geneva and Zurich. In its answer to an interpellation by the SP parliamentary group in the city council, the municipal council stated in October 2008 that “the city of Bern has [so far] deliberately refrained from a city partnership. This attitude was formulated for the first time by the local council in 1979 in connection with a postulate […] that proposed town twinning for Bern. The local council has since stuck to this strategy and has rejected all requests for town twinning. The city of Bern actively maintains relationships with a wide variety of cities. These relationships are mostly organization-related [...] or topic or project-specific [...]. The municipal council is ready to examine whether one or more town twinning agreements should also be entered into. "

Bern is also one of the Zähringer cities .

coat of arms

Coat of arms of the canton and the city of Bern

The bear as the heraldic animal of Bern is documented as early as the 13th century. According to the Justinger Chronicle, the first coat of arms of Bern is said to have shown a black bear on a silver background, walking upwards to the right . The change to today's coat of arms is likely to have taken place at the end of the 13th century.

When the city and canton of Bern were separated in 1831, the Bern coat of arms became both the coat of arms of the canton and the city of Bern; since 1944 it has been the coat of arms of the district of Bern. The blazon reads: "In red a golden right- angled bar , topped with a striding black bear with red claws ."

The coat of arms and the verbal “City of Bern” mark together form the city mark. The following applies to all city administration departments: The city coat of arms never appears alone. It is always used together with the word mark “Stadt Bern”.

The Bernese coat of arms is also the coat of arms of the city of New Bern in North Carolina. One difference, however, is that the version by New Bern lacks the red bear penis.

Economy and Infrastructure


The city of Bern is the center of the Bern-Mittelland economic region , which with around 350,000 inhabitants and 298,923 employees comprises around a third of the Canton of Bern. Together with the centers of Lausanne and Geneva, the city of Bern is part of the Greater Geneva Berne area . On February 13, 2017, the city of Bern was officially recognized as a Fair Trade Town .

According to the company census from 2008, there are 8605 workplaces in the city of Bern with 152,560 employees, 81,087 men and 71,473 women. The unemployment rate in 2007 was 3.5 percent. Since 2011 the "statistics of the corporate structure" (STATENT) has been collected. In 2015, 14,344 workplaces with 184,891 employees were counted, which corresponds to 140,924 full-time equivalents. 91.6% are employed in the 3rd sector (services), 8.2% in sector 2 (industry and trade) and only 0.2% in the 1st sector (agriculture / forestry and fishing). The proportion of women among employees is 49.2%.

In 2017, figures down to the statistical district level were published. The unemployment rate for the city of Bern was 2.7%, that of the statistical districts was between 0.5% and 4.3%. The unemployment rate was determined on the basis of the registered unemployed at the end of 2016 as a percentage of the economic resident population of working age (15 to 64 year olds) and should not be confused with the unemployment rate determined by SECO.

Almost half of the canton of Bern's gross domestic product of CHF 90,409 million in 2018 came from the Bern agglomeration (CHF 38,480 million). The agglomeration generated 146,600 francs of GDP per inhabitant (canton: 77,900 francs, Switzerland: 81,000 francs). The annual growth of 1.5% over the last 10 years corresponds to that of Switzerland as a whole.

The city of Bern is not only the seat of the urban and cantonal, but as a federal city also the federal administration and thus the largest administrative center in Switzerland. In addition, the Federal Post Office , the Swiss Federal Railways and the Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon-Bahn BLS have their headquarters in Bern. There are also national organizations such as Swissmedic , the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products, the diplomatic missions and the Universal Postal Union.

After public administration, the health and social services have the highest number of employees in the tertiary sector. In the second sector, construction comes first, followed by printing and publishing .

The most important branches of industry in Bern also include the energy market ( BKW Energie AG is the sole operator of the Mühleberg nuclear power plant ), the textile industry , mechanical engineering , electrical engineering , telecommunications with Ascom , in which the Bernese Hasler Group has merged, and the Production of precision instruments and measuring devices . The chemical industry is represented in Bern with the - from the Red by the Swiss cross in Bern in 1949 established Central Laboratory Blood Transfusion Service incurred - CSL Behring , who emerged from the Swiss Serum & Vaccine Institute Bern (Berna), since 2006 belonging to the Dutch Crucell Berna Biotech and Galenica .

Bern is also known as the place where the Toblerone chocolate is made , which Chocolat Tobler AG produced alongside other chocolate products in the Länggass district from 1908 to 1984. All that remains of Tobler AG is the Toblerone, which is produced by Mondelēz International in Bern-Brünnen with a workforce of around 220 people, and most of it is exported. The former Toblerfabrik in the Länggasse has housed the "Unitobler" since 1993, part of the University of Bern .

Another company from the city of Bern is Wander AG , which has been producing the drink Ovaltine  - called Ovaltine in English-speaking countries - since 1904 . Wander AG has been a subsidiary of the British food group Associated British Foods since 2002 and is based in Neuenegg .

In addition to the branches of the big banks, the banking sector is represented by a few local banks; the Berner Kantonalbank , founded in 1834, was the first cantonal bank in the Confederation. The state mint where all Swiss coins are minted is located in Bern.


Overnight stays in hotels
year Overnight stays Foreign guests
2007 665,104 59%
2008 620,751 59%
2009 681,267 53%
2010 674,495 52%
2011 691,027 51%
2012 686,967 52%
2013 710,786 52%
2014 718,575 55%
2015 714,258 57%
2016 710,754 55%

Bern is one of the most popular centers for national and international city ​​tourism . According to a report by the BAK Basel Economics , a Basel working group for business cycle research , from 2008, Bern is among the top ten in a comparison of 43 international city destinations.

According to the city ranking of the management consultancy Mercer, Bern is also one of the ten cities with the highest quality of life in the world.

In 2007, 665,104 overnight stays were recorded in hotels. Foreign guests make up about 59 percent of the overnight stays. In first place are guests from Germany with around 30 percent of the overnight stays by foreign visitors, followed by guests from the United States with 9 percent, the United Kingdom and Italy with 6 percent each and France with 5 percent. The average bed occupancy in the years 2006 to 2008 was 56 percent of the existing beds. Most of the guests are counted in the months of June to August.


Bern has two daily newspapers, the Berner Zeitung and the Bund , as well as the free newspaper Bernerbär , which appears once a week . - It is noteworthy that all three media belong to the Zurich-based Tamedia group. - The official official publication organ of the city and region of Bern is the Anzeiger Region Bern . It appears on Wednesdays and Fridays and is distributed free of charge to all households, companies and administrations.

One of the four main studios of Swiss radio and television is located in Bern . The most important radio information programs such as the hourly news and the daily programs “This Morning”, “Rendez-vous”, “Daily Talk”, “Echo of Time” and “Info 3” and all sports programs are produced in the Studio Bern the weekly background programs “Saturday round-up”, “International”, “Trend” and the special programs, for example on votes and elections. The regional journal for the Bern- Friborg - Wallis region is also produced here.

There are also three private regional radio stations, Energy Bern , Capital FM (April 23, 2013: RADIO BERN1) and Radio RaBe , as well as the regional television station TeleBärn .

The web radio Radio Blind Power , which is produced and operated by blind, visually impaired and sighted young people and is committed to the integration of blind and visually impaired people , also has its headquarters in the city of Bern .


Public transport

Bern main station
Route network of the Bern S-Bahn
Bus in the old town that runs on natural gas
Bernmobil's Siemens Combino tram

The Bern main station is an important railway and bus hub. After Zurich's main train station, it has the highest user frequency in Switzerland with 150,000 train travelers per day. Trains from all over Switzerland and many international trains such as EuroCity , TGV and ICE are handled on twelve standard-gauge main tracks (tracks 1–10, 12 and 13) ; Connected as a terminus station is the RBS underground station with four meter-gauge tracks (tracks 21–24). In addition to the main train station, there are several small, partly old train stations in the Bernese municipality that serve as S-Bahn stops: Felsenau (RBS), Tiefenau (RBS), Wankdorf, Europaplatz (SBB and GBS ), Stöckacker, Bümpliz Nord, Bümpliz South, Bern-Brünnen (right next to the Westside shopping center), Riedbach, and Weissenbühl .

The Bern S-Bahn connects the city with 13 lines with Thun, Emmental , Biel, Solothurn, Neuchâtel, Freiburg and Schwarzenburg and the rest of the agglomeration. The S-Bahn is operated by BLS AG and Regionalverkehr Bern – Solothurn (RBS). The latter also operates the Bern – Worb Dorf railway line .

Both the Gurtenbahn from Wabern on the Gurten and the Marzilibahn , which is considered the most profitable small railway in Switzerland, are private, as is the Mattenlift popularly known as the Senkeltram.

Bernmobil's urban transport network connects the city center with the outskirts and the suburbs . It includes the five lines of the tram , the three lines of the trolleybus Bern and fifteen bus lines. Most of the traffic close to the center is handled by Bernmobil. Bus traffic to the wider agglomeration is covered by post bus lines and the RBS.

In the north of Bern there are two privately operated passenger ferries across the Aare to and from the Engeh peninsula: the Reichenbach – Engeh peninsula ferry, which crosses the municipal border to Unter Zollikofen , and the Zehndermätteli ferry in Bremgarten . The Bodenacker ferry near Elfenau is no longer in the area of ​​the city of Bern, but crosses the Aare at the mouth of the Gürbe from Muri to Kehrsatz , but is co-financed by the city, just like the Reichenbach ferry and the Zehendermätteli – Bremgarten ferry .

The public bike rental system in the city of Bern was introduced in 2018 and is operated by PubliBike .

Road traffic

The city of Bern has had a motorway bypass since the 1970s, which relieves traffic in the city center and has connections to all major Swiss motorways. The A1 connects Bern with Geneva and Zurich , the A12 with Friborg and Lausanne , and the A6 with Biel and Thun . Between 60 and 100 km / h are permitted on city ​​motorways , and a maximum of 80 km / h in the city of Bern. Bern is the junction of main roads 1 , 6 , 10 and 12 . In addition to the numerous 30 km / h zones in the quarters, the maximum permissible speed on the main roads is also increasing to 30 km / h. reduced to 20 km / h. Template: future / in 5 yearsTempo 30 will be introduced on most urban streets by 2025 and half of the around 17,000 public parking spaces will be closed and the existing ones will be made more expensive. So far there are already 111 meeting zones in the city of Bern and a cycle road , which was first built as a pilot project by the Federal Roads Office .

Air traffic

Bern-Belp Airport

Bern-Belp Airport, which opened in 1929, is located less than ten kilometers southeast of Bern city center in the municipality of Belp . It can be reached by bus line 160 from Belp train station or by car from the A6 .

The federal air transport service , which reports to the Air Force , is stationed in Bern-Belp. He maintains a fleet of aircraft and helicopters for the Federal Council and the Federal Office for Civil Aviation .

Scheduled services have not been operated since the bankruptcy of the Bern-based airline SkyWork Airlines in summer 2018 . Air Engiadina (later renamed Swisswings) served Bern from 1992 until its bankruptcy in 2002. The SWISS had retired of 2003. Several small airlines gave shorter guest appearances. A new virtual airline Flybair, financed through crowdfunding , is scheduled to start operations in 2020 and is cooperating with Helvetic Airways for this purpose .

Public supply

Wankdorf Stadium, solar roof

Energie Wasser Bern (ewb), a public company owned by the city of Bern, is responsible for the energy and water supply as well as waste recycling for the city of Bern . As a partner of the Wasserverbund Region Bern AG, ewb supplies the city with around 14 million cubic meters of drinking water via a 388-kilometer supply network . 81.4 percent of the water comes from groundwater and 18.6 percent from sources in the Emmental , Aare Valley , Kiesen and Schwarzenburg .

The two hydropower plants Felsenau and Matte , the Forsthaus energy center and other smaller production facilities generate part of the electricity that is used in the city of Bern. In addition, the city of Bern is supplied with electricity via two 220 kV feed lines. 84 percent of the city's energy consumption is covered by oil , natural gas and uranium . BKW Energie operates the world's largest solar power plant integrated into a stadium on the roof of the Wankdorf stadium, which opened in 2005 .

The mat sill conducts approx. 40 m 3 / s of water from the Aare into the Matte hydropower station , which generates an electrical output of 1.1 MW.

The “Energiestadt” sponsoring association awarded the city of Bern the label of the same name as early as 1998, a record of performance for a consistent and future-oriented energy policy. Since 2010, the city of Bern has also received the European Energy Award Gold, the highest certificate for sustainable climate policy that is awarded at European level.

There have been both voluntary fire brigades (the night watch militia and fire corps) and a professional fire brigade in Bern for over 100 years . Bern can waive the obligation to fire a fire brigade or the obligation to replace the fire brigade . Since January 1, 2020, the professional fire brigade, both militia fire brigades (voluntary fire brigade), the Bern medical police, the Bern plus civil defense organization and disaster management have formed the new Bern protection and rescue department with a total of 300 professional and 1,000 militia forces.

Education and Research


The primary schools in the city of Bern are jointly supported by the city and canton of Bern. The supervision of the kindergartens and schools are carried out by the school inspectorates, commissioned by the Education Department of the Canton of Bern. The schools are divided into six school districts.

Neufeld grammar school

Attendance at a kindergarten has been compulsory in the city of Bern since 2013 and lasts for two years.

The compulsory schooling is nine years. Six of them are primary school , three years of lower secondary school , which is divided into junior high and secondary school and for which there are three different models. From the 3rd school year onwards, French is taught as the first foreign language , from the 5th school year onwards, students learn English . There are various small and special classes for children with learning difficulties. In addition to the public schools, there are several private schools in Bern, some of which are state subsidized.

The transfer to middle school or upper secondary level takes place after the eighth or ninth school year. The grammar school lasts four years and ends with the Matura . There are two public grammar schools in Bern , the Kirchenfeld grammar school and the Neufeld grammar school , as well as the private free grammar school and three other private schools that run grammar school classes.

Universities and research

Main building of the university

The 1834 founded, cantonal University of Bern , with around 18,500 students (fall semester 2019), the fourth largest university college in Switzerland and offers a classical comprehensive university in eight faculties , a wide selection of courses at. Bern also has a university clinic , the Inselspital . The Bern Botanical Garden is also operated by the University of Bern . The university library in the old town has an inventory of over two million books and media.

The University of Bern became internationally known, among other things

  • through the first habilitation of a woman in 1898, the philosopher Anna Tumarkin , Europe's first female professor, who had the right to examine doctoral and post-doctoral candidates and to take a seat in the university's senate;
  • by Emil Theodor Kocher , lecturer at the Medical Faculty of the University of Bern, who was the first surgeon to receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1909;
  • and by Walter Benjamin , who received his doctorate from Bern University in 1919 on the “Concept of Art Criticism in German Romanticism”.

In the city of Bern there are several departments of the decentralized state-run Bern University of Applied Sciences , where around 5000 people study; so the departments of economy and administration, health, social work and the Bern University of the Arts .

The University of Education is affiliated with the University of Education , other vocational schools are the Swiss Jazz School , the largest vocational school in Switzerland, the Commercial Industrial Vocational School , and the Swiss Business Informatics School .

The Association for Academic Promotion Swissuni - University Continuing Education Switzerland has existed since 2002 .



There are numerous cinemas in Bern. In addition to commercially operating houses, there are various arthouse cinemas. The Rex cinema shows monthly retrospectives on international personalities and premieres of so-called independent productions. In the old town you can find the cellar cinema that cooperates with the Rex cinema and later includes the premieres shown there in the program. The Lichtspiel / Kinemathek combines a kind of museum with a cinema and a cinematheque .

With just under 33,000 visitors, the US survival adventure “The Revenant” in the city of Bern was the biggest cinema success of 2016. The second most successful animated film, “The Secret Life of Pets”, drew almost 28,000 visitors to the Bern cinemas. “Zootropolis” (also “Zootopia”, “Zoomania”), an animated film from Disney, was the third most visited film in Bern cinemas.

Museums and galleries

historical Museum

Bern has many museums that are spread across the whole city. In the center on Hodlerstrasse is the art museum , which opened in 1879 , is the oldest art museum in Switzerland, with a permanent collection that houses works from eight centuries. In the immediate vicinity is the « Progr », the first grammar school and later Progymnasium in Bern, which today serves as an exhibition and event location.

Zentrum Paul Klee, architect: Renzo Piano

In Kirchenfeldstrasse at Helvetiaplatz originally as are Landesmuseum planned Historical Museum , showing its permanent collection and changing exhibitions and in 2005 the Einstein Museum has established the Swiss Alpine Museum and the Kunsthalle , the more of the contemporary art shows dedicated to solo and group exhibitions per year. Not far away are the Museum of Communication and the Natural History Museum, which belongs to the civic community, with its diorama show .

Far outside the city center on the A6 motorway is the Zentrum Paul Klee , which was opened in June 2005 and was designed by Renzo Piano . With around 4,000 works by the painter Paul Klee, who is closely associated with Bern, it has one of the largest collections dedicated to a single artist.

The majority of the numerous art galleries are located in the old town. With the Kornfeld Gallery, Bern has an auction house for Swiss and international art.

The Einsteinhaus is also located in the old town at Kramgasse 49 . A museum was set up in the apartment on the second floor, which Albert Einstein and his first wife Mileva Marić lived in from 1903 to 1905, the annus mirabilis .


City Theater Bern

The Stadttheater Bern is an ensemble theater subsidized by the canton, the city and the surrounding communities , which offers performances in all three categories, drama , music theater and ballet . Since 2007 the Theater am Kornhausplatz has had a second venue in a disused factory, in the Vidmarhallen in Bern-Liebefeld.

The Theater an der Effingerstrasse is a chamber theater that shows around 200 performances a year. The Schlachthaus Theater Bern has been located in the former slaughterhouse since 1998 , a guest theater for the independent theater scene in Switzerland that is subsidized with public funds. The former steam center in Marzili is a cultural center for contemporary dance and contemporary music. The riding school also has a theater, the Tojo theater.

In the old town there are several small and cellar theaters, including the Bernese Puppet Theater , and with the Theater am Käfigturm , Bern also has a boulevard theater .


The Bern Symphony Orchestra , founded in 1877, is the city orchestra of Bern. The orchestra, which appears both as a symphony orchestra in the Kultur Casino and as an opera orchestra in the city theater, has around 100 musicians. The Bern Chamber Orchestra is smaller and takes on older and newer classical music and performs at various venues in the city. The Camerata Bern , made up of 14 trained soloists, is one of the leading chamber orchestras in Europe; The Bernese quintet I Salonisti , which has existed since 1981, has achieved world fame with its appearance as an on-board orchestra in the film Titanic .

The Jazz is well represented in Berne. The “Marians Jazzroom” jazz club is located in the Hotel Innere Enge , the “Mahogany Hall” has existed since 1968, and the BeJazz association has had a clubhouse in the Vidmarhallen since 2007.

Bern is known for its dialect rock , which goes back to the Bern German chansons of the 1960s (including by Mani Matter ). Well-known rock musicians and bands from Bern are or were Polo Hofer , Patent Ochsner , Span , Gölä , Stephan Eicher and Züri West and Roland Zoss .

In addition, there are a large number of choirs in the city of Bern with different repertoires from folk to classical; The Bern Chamber Choir and the Bern Choir are known far beyond the city limits .

Cultural centers

The city of Bern has, among other things, the alternative cultural center Reithalle , the Dampfzentrale Bern (cultural center for contemporary dance and music) and the Gaskessel youth center .

Animal park

In Bern there is the Dählhölzli zoo with the branch BärenPark am Bärengraben, where three brown bears currently live as Bernese heraldic animals in a large outdoor area


Main stage of the Gurten Festival

The most famous festival is the Gurten Festival , in July on the belts takes place. The festival, at which international music stars perform, is attended by tens of thousands and is one of the largest in Switzerland.

Also in summer there is the Buskers street music festival and a free BeJazz outdoor festival in the old town. In autumn the international short film festival shnit (shnit International Shortfilmfestival) , in late autumn the lesbian and gay film festival “Queersicht” and alternating with the music festival the Biennale Bern are organized. In winter the BeJazz association organizes a jazz festival. In spring, the Bern International Jazz Festival , the Swiss theater festival for contemporary theater “ Aua wir leben ”, the Bern Music Festival and the SonOhr Hearing Festival take place every two years .

Folk festivals

Every year on the fourth Monday in November, the “ Zibelemärit ” takes place in Bern ; Traditionally, this market mainly sells onions, around 30 tons at over 600 market stalls. Visitors who arrive early in the morning and the cheerful atmosphere created by confetti and plastic hammers with which the children hit the adults on the head give the Zibelemärit the character of a folk festival. The Zibelemärit is one of the oldest annual fairs in Switzerland and the largest in Bern.

Since 1957, the Bernese "Granium-Märit" ( geranium market) has been held on the Wednesday after the ice saints . In 1982 a total of 19,949 geraniums were sold. In 1984 the city of Bern was voted “ Europe's most beautiful city of flowers” by the European Entente Florale Europe competition . Since 1997, a “Geranium King” has been chosen as part of the “Bern in Flowers” ​​competition on the Bern geranium market.

Other markets in Bern include the “Bäremärit” (bear market), the vegetable, fruit and flower market that takes place every Tuesday and Saturday on the Bundesplatz, among other places, and the Christmas market.

Since 1982, the third largest carnival in Switzerland has taken place in the old town of Bern with over 50,000 visitors . The Bernese carnival kick-off begins on November 11 at 11:11 a.m. on Bärenplatz. At this point in time, the Bernese "carnival bear" is locked in the cage tower for its winter rest . This event is accompanied by various Guggenmusiken from the city of Bern and the surrounding area. About three months later, on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday , the Bärner Fasnacht begins at the Käfigturm with the bear liberation and the subsequent “Ychüblete” (drumming in). The carnival bear is woken up and released from its cage.

From 1996 to 2005, the Aare Lights Festival , organized by the Swiss aid organization Swissaid , took place on the national holiday . Following the example of Hindu and Buddhist light and water festivals, light boats were placed in the Aare later in the evening in the Matte district, moving in a chain of lights down the river. After Swissaid held this event for the last time in 2005, a “Sea of ​​Lights on Land” now takes place on August 1st every year on Waisenhausplatz, organized by Procap , the largest Swiss self-help organization for people with disabilities. The city of Bern's August 1st fireworks were set off on the Gurten until 2019 .

Every September, the "Sichlete" takes place in the middle of Bern on Bundesplatz. This event, which has been held since 1999, is a kind of harvest festival with a descent from the Alps and an animal show, which aims to bring the life of the country folk closer to the urban population.

Altstadtgasse towards Zytglogge


The main attraction of Bern is the old town, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 . UNESCO justified the inclusion of Bern on the World Heritage List by stating that, regardless of the changes that the city has undergone since its foundation in the 12th century, “Bern is a positive example of how a city can maintain and develop its medieval structure increasingly complex functions that it has to fulfill, especially the tasks of a capital of a modern state. "

The old town character is best preserved in the area below the Zytglogge ; Above there are only a few buildings that are more than 150 years old. The old town is characterized by its sandstone buildings with their arbors , which extend over a length of a good six kilometers and form one of the longest covered shopping streets in Europe. The town hall to the exterior is a baroque gem . The Béatrice von Wattenwyl residential building and the former Federal State Topography at Hallwylstrasse 4 are located on Junkernstrasse

Child eater fountain

There are over 100 fountains to see in the city of Bern. The eleven figure fountains from the 16th century, which are located in the regularly arranged alleys, are typical . The Stadtbach , formerly an open sewer system, currently connects the wells both underground and above ground. The Lenbrunnen, the oldest cistern in Bern, is located in the basement of the State Chancellery. In the capitol city, is that of since 1983 Meret Oppenheim designed Oppenheim fountain .

At the place where probably already before the city was founded the castle Nydegg stand, there is the Nydegghof with the Gothic, repeatedly rebuilt Nydeggkirche , the Zähringer monument and remains of the castle. The Nydeggstalden was built after the city fire of 1405; In the interior of numerous houses, building fabric dating back to the late Middle Ages has been preserved, which is also visible on the outside of some houses.

Bundeshaus and Bundesplatz after the redesign
Bear park

On the flank of the old town at the height of the Käfigturm is the Bundesplatz with the federal houses and the parliament building, the headquarters of the Berner Kantonalbank in a neo-renaissance building built as a social building, the neo-baroque Swiss National Bank , the new Bollwerkpost and the savings and loan office, today Valiant Bank . The Bundesterrasse and the Kleine Schanze, which can still be recognized as a former fortification, are located in front of the Federal Palace .

The Untertorbrücke , one of the oldest late medieval bridges in Switzerland, connects the city with the so-called Felsenburg , a fortified tower from the 13th century that has been converted into apartments. The runner's fountain is on the runner's place .

The Town Hall Square with the Vennerbrunnen is from the late Gothic after the fire from 1406 to 1417 the newly built city hall dominated. In the immediate vicinity is the neo-Gothic Christian Catholic Church of St. Peter and Paul from the 19th century.

The Münsterplatz is dominated by the late Gothic cathedral , which after the laying of the foundation stone in the early 15th century could only be completed with the tower structures in the late 19th century. Both the monastery building of the canons and the Tscharnerhaus were planned by Albrecht Stürler . The Moses fountain also dates from the 18th century.

Most of the rest of the city of Bern was settled from the 19th century. The newer quarters are connected to the old town by high bridges.

At the end of the Nydeggbrücke is the Bärengraben. Bears, the symbolic animals of Bern, were kept here from 1858 to 2009. A new, larger bear park was opened in October 2009. Above is the rose garden with an excellent view of the old town. Also worth mentioning is the Brother Klaus church on Segantinistrasse.


Sports facilities

The Wankdorf Stadium from the outside

The Wankdorf stadium stood in Bern for over 50 years . It was named after the Bern district in which it was located. It was built in 1920 after the old Spitalacker square was too small for the grandstand. At that time there was just about 11,000 people in Wankdorf. Over the years the stadium has been expanded again and again; so it offered more than 60,000 places at peak times. The old Wankdorf was known beyond the country's borders, especially through the so-called Miracle of Bern . At that time, the final of the 1954 World Cup was held in Wankdorf , which Germany won against the favored Hungarians . This victory is occasionally called the "birth of the Federal Republic of Germany". The stadium remained in existence for almost 50 years, only the capacity was reduced again. In 2001 the old Wankdorf was blown up and rebuilt as the Stade de Suisse , which has also had the traditional name since 2020. It has space for 31,783 spectators, making it the second largest football stadium in Switzerland. The construction cost around 350 million francs.

The PostFinance Arena is currently the largest ice rink in Switzerland with 17,031 seats and one of the largest in Europe. It was built in 1967 and covered in 1969. Its huge standing ramp with a capacity of 10,331 seats is particularly characteristic - the world's largest in an ice hockey stadium.

The city of Bern has several indoor and outdoor pools. The oldest indoor swimming pool is located in the city center at Hirschengraben. It was built in the early 20th century. The best-known outdoor pool is the Marzilibad on the Aare, another Aare river pool is in the Lorraine. The Bad Weyermannshaus and the Ka-We-De wave pool , which turn into an ice rink in winter, are popular. In contrast to most other Swiss cities, the public swimming pools in the city of Bern are free, with a few exceptions.

sports clubs

Logo of Young Boys Bern

The BSC Young Boys football club plays in the Raiffeisen Super League , the highest Swiss league. He was Swiss champion thirteen times, most recently in 2019 and six times in the Swiss Cup , most recently in 1987. The Young Boys' U21s play in the first division. The somewhat older city club and traditional club FC Bern was successful at the beginning of the last century.

Logo of the SC Bern

The Stadtberner ice hockey club SC Bern plays in the highest ice hockey league in Switzerland, the National League A , and has been Swiss champion sixteen times since 1959, most recently in the 2018/19 season . The SCB has the highest average attendance at home games across Europe.

The BSV Bern Muri was founded in 1951 as a TV Oberseminar and is now one of the largest handball clubs in Switzerland. He was three times champion in the national league A , the last time in 1985. The club currently plays in the top national league.

The City Gymnastics Club of Bern was founded in 1873 and, with around 2000 members, is one of the largest gymnastics clubs in Switzerland. The STB is best known for its member club STBern Athletics. The STBern athletics is the largest and one of the most successful athletics clubs in Switzerland. The American football club Bern Grizzlies and the baseball and softball club Bern Cardinals in particular have some international successes in less well-known sports . The Rolling Thunder Bern are 7-time Swiss champions in power chair hockey . You have played in the top league without interruption since the National League was founded in 2013.

Sporting events

Bern was one of six venues for the 1954 World Cup and one of eight venues for the 2008 European Football Championship . Bern was also the venue for the ice hockey world championships in 1971 , 1990 and 2009 and was chosen as the venue for the 2011 European figure skating championships .

The Grand Prix of Bern, the largest popular sport event in Switzerland, takes place annually in Bern . Over 25,000 runners from Germany and abroad regularly take part in this running event. The original route runs partly through the historic old town and along the Aare.

The Swiss Women's Run , also taking place in Bern, is only open to women and, with almost 13,000 participants, is the largest women's run in Europe and the largest women's sports event in Switzerland. As part of the Post Cup , the 5-kilometer main run also attracts elite runners. Since 2005 there has also been a 10-kilometer route. There is also a 15-kilometer route for walking and Nordic walking . The women's run has been running through downtown Bern since 2005 and ends on Bundesplatz .

Today, the “Bern Open” is the best-attended curling tournament in Europe and is one of the most important international curling tournaments outside the curling stronghold of Canada.

Circuit in the Bremgartenwald

The Bremgarten circuit was located in the Bremgarten Forest and was used for motorsport events from 1931 to 1955.

The beach volleyball amateur Swiss championships were held in Weissenbühl in 2009 and 2011.

The Bern E-Prix was an automobile race of the FIA Formula E Championship and was held on June 22, 2019 as part of the FIA Formula E Championship 2018/19 .

See also

Portal: Bern  - Overview of Wikipedia content about Bern
File category Files: Bern  - local collection of images and media files


  • Armand Baeriswyl: City, suburb and urban expansion in the Middle Ages. Archaeological and historical studies on the growth of the three Zähringer towns of Burgdorf, Bern and Freiburg im Breisgau (= Swiss contributions to the cultural history and archeology of the Middle Ages. Volume 30). Schweizerischer Burgenverein, Basel 2003, ISBN 3-908182-14-X (zugl .: Zürich, Univ., Diss., 2001).
  • Anna Bähler u. a .: Bern - the history of the city in the 19th and 20th centuries. Urban development, society, economy, politics, culture. Edited by Robert Barth. 2., unchanged. Edition Stämpfli, Bern 2003, ISBN 3-7272-1271-3 .
  • The art monuments of Switzerland . The art monuments of the canton of Bern. City of Bern:
    • Paul Hofer , Georges Herzog: The city of Bern. Volume III. The state buildings of the city of Bern (town hall, grain houses, armory, monastery, etc.) (= Swiss art monuments. Volume 19). Edited by the Society for Swiss Art History GSK. Birkhäuser, Basel 1947, OCLC 884607561 .
      • Paul Hofer: The State Buildings of the City of Bern (= Art Monuments of the Canton of Bern. Volume 3; Art Monuments of Switzerland. Volume 19). Unchangeable Reprinted with addenda by Georges Herzog. 1982, ISBN 3-7643-1391-9 .
      • The art monuments of the canton of Bern. Volume III. The city of Bern. Supplements to Volume 3. Birkhäuser, Basel 1982, OCLC 917628879 .
    • Paul Hofer: The city of Bern (= The art monuments of the canton of Bern. Volume 1: Cityscape, fortifications, city gates, facilities, monuments, bridges, city fountains, hospitals, orphanages. Volume 2: Society houses and residential buildings; = The art monuments of Switzerland. Volume 28, volume 40). 2 volumes. Birkhäuser, Basel 1952–1959, OCLC 611792171 .
    • Paul Hofer, Luc Mojon: The churches of the city of Bern. Antonierkirche, French Church, Heiliggeistkirche and Nydeggkirche (= The Art Monuments of the Canton of Bern. Vol. 5; The Art Monuments of Switzerland. Volume 58). Birkhäuser, Basel 1969, OCLC 61843273 .
    • Luc Mojon: The Bern Minster (= The Art Monuments of the Canton of Bern. Volume 4; The Art Monuments of Switzerland. Volume 44). Birkhäuser, Basel 1960, OCLC 46284900 .
  • Richard Feller : History of Bern. 4 volumes. 4., corr. Lang, Bern 1974, OCLC 2968839 .
  • Bernhard Furrer : The Town of Berne (= Swiss Art Guide. No. 553/555; Ser. 56). Edited by the Society for Swiss Art History GSK. GSK, Bern 1994, ISBN 3-85782-553-7 .
  • Fridolin Limbach: The beautiful city of Bern. The eventful history of the old “Märit” or “Meritgasse”, today's Gerechtigkeits- und Kramgasse and the old Zähringer town of Bern. Hand prints, drawings, building and house histories, chronicles, old prints, Bern mandates, government decrees and maps. 2nd Edition. Benteli, Bern 1988, ISBN 3-7165-0273-1 (introduction by Hans Strahm).
  • Christian Lüthi , Bernhard Meier (Ed.): Bern - a city is breaking up. Scenes and stories of urban development in Bern between 1798 and 1998. Haupt, Bern / Stuttgart / Vienna 1998, ISBN 3-258-05721-4 .
  • Rainer C. Schwinges u. a. (Ed.): Bern's courageous time. Rediscovered in the 13th and 14th centuries (= Bern times. Volume [1]). Schulverlag blmv, Bern 2003, ISBN 3-292-00030-0 ; Stämpfli, Bern 2003, ISBN 3-7272-1272-1 .
  • Hans Strahm : History of the city and landscape of Bern. Francke, Bern 1971, DNB 997277920 .
  • Anne-Marie Dubler and Hans Grütter: Bern (municipality). In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . August 17, 2011 , accessed July 27, 2016 .
  • Directory of all citizens of the city of Bern; edited from official sources. Stämpfli, Bern 1853–1914 ( digitized . In: ).
  • Franz A. Roedelberger: Bern book. Book publisher Verbandsdruckerei AG, Bern 1953, OCLC 742740921 .
  • Valerius Anshelm : Berner Chronik, from the beginning of the city of Bern to 1526 , 6 volumes.

Web links

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Individual evidence

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This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on February 19, 2010 .