Biel / Bienne

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Biel / Bienne
Biel / Bienne coat of arms
State : SwitzerlandSwitzerland Switzerland
Canton : Canton BernCanton Bern Bern (BE)
Administrative district : Biel / Biennew
BFS no. : 0371i1 f3 f4
Postal code : 2500-2505
Coordinates : 585 443  /  220 664 coordinates: 47 ° 8 '12 "  N , 7 ° 14' 48"  O ; CH1903:  585443  /  220664
Height : 434  m above sea level M.
Height range : 427–990 m above sea level M.
Area : 21.19  km²
Residents: i55,159 (December 31, 2018)
Population density : 2603 inhabitants per km²
City President : Erich Fehr ( SP )
Panorama of Biel / Bienne, taken from the west

Panorama of Biel / Bienne,
taken from the west

Location of the municipality
Bielersee Kanton Neuenburg Kanton Solothurn Kanton Solothurn Verwaltungskreis Bern-Mittelland Verwaltungskreis Berner Jura Verwaltungskreis Seeland Aegerten Bellmund Biel/Bienne Brügg Ipsach Lengnau BE Evilard Ligerz Meinisberg Mörigen Nidau Orpund Pieterlen Port BE Safnern Scheuren BE Schwadernau Sutz-Lattrigen Twann-TüscherzMap of Biel / Bienne
About this picture
On the right the Volkshaus in the Bahnhofsquartier, behind it part of the Bahnhofstrasse with the typical houses of the 1920s

Biel / Bienne ( German Biel [ biːl ], Biel dialect : [ ˈb̥iˑəu ], more rarely [ ˈb̥iˑəɫ ], French Bienne [ bjɛn ]) is a city in the Swiss canton of Bern . It is located at the northeastern end of Lake Biel in the Seeland and with 55,159 inhabitants it ranks tenth on the list of Swiss cities .

The second largest city in the canton after Bern is the largest bilingual city in Switzerland and has been the capital of the Biel / Bienne administrative district since 2010 . In agglomeration Biel according to the current definition of live Federal Statistical Office (FSO) 101'271 people in 27 communities. The catchment area is put at around 150,000 people.

Biel is the regional and economic center for both the Seeland and the Bernese Jura and parts of the canton of Solothurn . It also has several universities of applied sciences and is therefore a university town. Before Le Locle , Grenchen and La Chaux-de-Fonds, Biel is the most important center of the watch industry in Switzerland and is known as a world watch metropolis due to the headquarters of the Swatch Group and the Rolex production facility . The Association of the Swiss Watch Industry FH is also based in the city.

Biel is characterized by a homogeneous new town, which - especially in the station district - was built from the 1920s according to the rules of the Bauhaus and New Building , and by an excellently preserved old town with a medieval structure.



Bahnhofstrasse during the Braderie

The city of Biel, located on the northern edge of the canton of Bern, is in the area of ​​the Three Lakes Region and borders directly on Lake Biel , at the southern foot of the Jura .

The city center of Biel is mostly at 434  m above sea level. M. (central square), the urban area of 429  m above sea level. M. (lake level Bielersee ) up to 988  m above sea level. M. at La Comtesse in the border triangle between Biel, Leubringen and Twann-Tüscherz .

Today's center of Biel ( inner city ) is the new town, which was built both at the turn of the century before the last but also, especially in the station district, from 1920 according to the rules of the Bauhaus . It is located on the plain and is divided into a northern and southern part by the channeled arm of the Schüss on the central square. The oldest part of the Neustadt, built in the 19th century, is located north of the Schüss.

Adjacent to the northern Neustadt, at the lower end of the slopes of the southern foot of the Jura, is the medieval old town , which is also underflowed by another covered arm of the Schüss, which later flows into the canalized arm.

The third natural arm of the Schüss flows into the Zihl near Nidau ​​and Lake Biel .

Biel is located 26 km north-north-west of Bern , 28 km north-east of Neuchâtel and 23 km west-south-west of Solothurn (as the crow flies).

The neighboring communities of Biel are:

Leubringen , Orvin Leubringen , Orvin Sauge , Pieterlen
Twann-Tüscherz Wind rose small.svg Orpund , Safnern
Lake Biel Nidau , Port Brügg


The city of Biel is located in the warm-temperate climate zone ( effective climate classification Cfb), whereby the individual seasons , as in all of Switzerland north of the Alps, are strongly pronounced.

The annual mean temperature at the measuring station of the Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology in Biel is 9.1 ° C, with the coldest monthly mean temperatures in January at −0.3 ° C and the warmest monthly mean temperatures in July at 18.7 ° C.

The warmest months are July and August. During the summer , an average of 46 summer days per year with temperatures of at least 25 ° C can be expected (calculated for the normal period from 1960 to 1990), there are on average 8 hot days with temperatures above 30 ° C per year and on particularly hot summer days there can be even warm up to 35 ° C.

In autumn , during the Indian summer , which is mostly in September , the temperatures rise one last time and the weather is consistently beautiful, which allows a good view and intensifies the discoloration of the leaves.

In winter , the average daily mean temperatures are around freezing point. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of −0.3 ° C. Long-term mean values ​​show 80 frost days (minimum temperature <0 ° C) and 21 ice days (maximum temperature <0 ° C) for Biel.

Compared to other places in the area, the city of Biel has a significantly milder climate.

The 1203 mm of precipitation falls throughout the year, with the least precipitation falling in March, April, July, September and October.

The winds from the west usually bring the precipitation, as in the whole of western Switzerland. If there is bise (east or north-east wind), the weather will be cooler than the average in all seasons. The foehn , which is important in the Alpine valleys and on the edge of the Alps , does not normally have any special climatic effects on Biel.

The wind from the Joran mountains called Joran, which sets in on hot summer evenings, is very popular with sailors .

Monthly average temperature and precipitation for Biel / Bienne (1981-2010)
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) 3.7 5.6 10.7 14.9 19.6 22.9 25.6 25.0 20.5 14.7 8.0 4.7 O 14.7
Min. Temperature (° C) −1.5 −1.4 1.6 4.7 9.1 12.4 14.4 14.0 10.6 7.1 2.2 −0.4 O 6.1
Temperature (° C) 0.7 1.6 5.5 9.5 14.0 17.4 19.7 18.9 14.8 10.3 4.8 1.8 O 10
Precipitation ( mm ) 101 88 89 79 100 100 102 113 97 104 98 117 Σ 1,188
Rainy days ( d ) 10.7 10.0 10.7 10.2 12.2 10.8 10.6 10.6 8.8 10.8 10.5 11.5 Σ 127.4
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 quarters

Biel quarters
Quarter BFS code
Vineyard / Vignoble 371001
Old town / Vieille ville 371002
Neustadt Nord / Nouvelle ville nord 371003
Neustadt Süd / Nouvelle ville sud 371004
Champagne 371005
Bözingen / Boujean (Buschang) 371006
Mett / Mâche 371007
Madretsch North 371008
Madretsch South 371009
Vingelz / Vigneules 371010

Between 1900 and 1920 the then autonomous surrounding communities of Vingelz (1900), Bözingen (1916), Mett (1919) and Madretsch (1919) were incorporated.

In 1920, the two cities of Biel and Nidau wanted to merge, among other things due to the development of the settlement and the increasing economic ties, and decided in separate referendums by a large majority in favor of a merger.

However, the Grand Council of the Canton of Bern opposed the project and did not approve the merger of Biel and Nidau. The then mostly bourgeois government of the canton did not want the main town of the district of Nidau ​​to merge with the left Biel. A constitutional appeal against this show of force at the Federal Supreme Court changed nothing in this verdict.

Also in 1951 the Grand Council of the Canton of Bern rejected a merger request , this time from Biel and Port , although the merger would again have been desired by a large majority of both populations and both municipalities. Behind both cases there was also the fear of the Bern parliament that the city of Biel could become too important in the canton of Bern, especially since industry in the Biel region expanded significantly and the population grew rapidly.

Today the settlement area of ​​Biel has merged seamlessly with those of Brügg, Nidau ​​and Port. There are only small open spaces or forest areas between Biel and Orpund.

According to the current FSO definition, 101,271 people live in 27 municipalities in the Biel agglomeration (as of 2012). According to this definition, in addition to the core town of Biel / Bienne, the municipalities of Aegerten , Bellmund , Brügg , Evilard , Ipsach , Nidau , Port , Schwadernau , Studen and Worben belong to the main core of the agglomeration. The agglomeration belt includes Mörigen , Orpund , Pieterlen , Safnern , Sauge , Scheuren , Sutz-Lattrigen, as well as Jens , Ligerz , Meinisberg , Merzligen , Orvin , Péry-La Heutte , Romont and Twann-Tüscherz , who were newly added compared to the definition of 2000 .


Early history

View of the city of Biel in the Topographia Helvetiae by Matthäus Merian , 1642
Zentralplatz in 1903 with a view of the upper Bahnhofstrasse and the Schüss
City map from 1906

The oldest known traces of settlement in the area of ​​today's city of Biel are pile dwellings in the area of ​​the port of Biel-Vingelz . The earliest finds were dated to 2970 BC. Dated. These finds are part of the prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps , which were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011 . Settlement remains have been found on the lake shore in Nidau , which is directly adjacent to Biel, suggesting that the Biel lake bay was already settled around 3800 BC. And possibly even to a settlement in the 5th millennium BC. Point out.

Archaeological finds prove the existence of a settlement on Biel soil as early as Roman times. In 1846, Roman coins (1st century BC to 4th century AD) were found in the so-called Roman spring .

middle Ages

The current place name has been documented since the middle of the 12th century (1142 apud Bielnam , 1148 Bielno ). It is traced back to * Bĕlĕna , female form of the Celtic god name Belenos . The widespread older derivation of ahd. Buhil 'Bühl, Hügel' does not explain the sound n , which was attested from the beginning and which was preserved in the French form of the name .

From the 13th century onwards, the Zeeland town can be regarded as a real city. The decisive factor was the award of the freedom letter in 1275. Through various castle rights treaties, Biel was linked to other cities such as Solothurn , Bern , Freiburg and Murten . Biel developed its own municipal administration and also its independence from its master - the Prince-Bishop of Basel - and the protective power of Bern.

In the 15th century the city got the right to raise troops, especially in the Sankt-Immer-Tal . She took part in various campaigns of the Swiss Confederation . Since 1478 she was - as a - as a result of participation in the Burgundian Wars facing site of the Confederation with two deputies at the Tagsatzungen represented.

In 1512 the city received a valuable " Juliusbanner " from Pope Julius II. For the services rendered in the "Great Pavierzug" in 1508–1510 to expel the French.

The Reformation began in Biel with the work of the priest Thomas Wyttenbach , who began to openly preach in the Reformation sense from 1523 at the latest, but died in 1526. The final introduction of the Reformation took place as in Bern in 1528.

By the end of the Ancien Régime , in Biel, as in other cities, there was a clear aristocratization of the families ruling the city regiment.

18th and 19th centuries

Stadtkirche am Ring in Biel's old town

In 1798 Biel became part of the First French Republic . The city was the capital of the canton of Biel , which initially belonged to the Mont-Terrible department . From 1800 the city and canton of Biel were part of the arrondissement of Delsberg in the department of Haut-Rhin . In the Congress of Vienna in 1815, the city was assigned to the canton of Bern and assigned to the district of Nidau . In 1817 a grammar school was founded in Biel; its first rector was Johann-Conrad Appenzeller . In 1832 the district of Biel was established .

In 1878 the important Swiss writer Robert Walser was born in Biel . In 1978, on the occasion of his hundredth birthday, the city donated the Robert Walser Prize in his memory .

Traces of Biel's bilingualism can already be found in late medieval documents. In this area, Biel experienced an important turning point at the end of the 19th century with the large influx of Jura , i.e. French-speaking, watchmakers .

20th century

Historic aerial photo by Walter Mittelholzer from 1925
Obligation of CHF 1,000 from the city of Biel dated September 30, 1931

In 1877, the age of the tram began in Biel, the second Swiss city after Geneva . A first line, drawn by horses until 1902, connected Nidau ​​with Biel's main train station and ended in what is now the Biel-Bözingen district.

Between 1900 and 1920 the surrounding communities of Vingelz (1900), Bözingen (1917), Mett and Madretsch (1920) merged with Biel. Since the middle of the 20th century, thanks to the watch industry, Biel has seen a very rapid development of the city and its population. The railway junction also contributed to this .

On December 8, 1948, the last tram ran in Biel. The four tram lines were then replaced by a trolleybus system that still exists today.

In 1964, 64,848 people lived in the city of Biel, which is still the city's population record today.

In the 1970s, Biel was asked whether it would like to become the capital of the newly founded Canton of Jura . However, the city of Biel refused and, like the Protestant Bernese Jura, remained with the canton of Bern.

21st century

In 2002 the Swiss National Exhibition (Expo.02) took place in Biel, Neuchâtel, Murten and Yverdon-les-Bains.

Since the turn of the millennium resp. Since the Swiss National Exhibition in 2002, after years of stagnation since the end of the boom years 1960 to 1970, brisk construction activity began. In the urban area, urgently needed renovations to urban facilities (including a number of school buildings and the congress center) were and are being carried out, and in the inner-city area, in some cases large and central vacant lots (including the area of ​​the former Capitol theater and theater) were closed and urgently required underground parking garages in the city center. In addition, new residential and commercial buildings have been and are being built throughout the city, the renovation of the architecturally valuable houses has begun through municipal funding programs, a sports complex ( Stades de Bienne ) is being built on the eastern edge of Biel and there is a project involving all city ​​administrations in to accommodate a new central town hall . Furthermore, an urban parking guidance system with several multi-storey car parks was set up, pedestrian zones established and spaces and parks made more attractive. As a result of the boom and the efforts of the city government to locate new companies, many new companies and spin-offs from the local university of applied sciences were able to settle in the new part of the Bözingenfeld industrial area.The new headquarters of the Swatch Group will be built on the former site of the Gurzelen football stadium on the eastern edge of the city, the Rolex facilities were massively enlarged.

The city of Biel was able to overcome its long-lasting economic depression since the clock crisis in 1970 at the turn of the millennium and is now experiencing a strong economic upswing, which is reflected in the extensive settlement of companies and the expansion of existing companies and a population increase of 7.2 % compared to the year 2000 (as of the end of 2010).


  • Collection of Swiss legal sources. Section II: The legal sources of the Canton of Bern. First part: city ​​rights. Volume 13: Paul Bloesch: The legal sources of the city of Biel with their "outer goals" Bözingen, Vingelz and Leubringen. with a register by Achilles Weishaupt, Basel 2003.


Population development
year Residents
1850 5,609
1860 8,719
1870 11,666
1880 16,579
1888 21,181
1900 29,557
1910 32,136
1920 34,599
1930 37,726
1941 41'219
1950 48,342
1960 59'216
1964 64,848
1970 64'333
1980 53,793
1990 51,893
2000 48,655
2005 50,407
2010 52'477

On December 31, 2018, the city had 55,159 inhabitants, making it the tenth largest city in Switzerland. It is also the largest and legally the only bilingual city ​​in the country. At the last census in 2018, the native German share of the population was 48.6%, the French-speaking 43.7%. For 57.3% of the population, German is the main language used in everyday life and for 42.7% French. The population of Biel is used to using the other language in everyday life. However, this fact does not automatically make all residents bilingual. In Biel , anyone who grew up in a bilingual family with German and French is considered bilingual . Biel's bilingualism has an impact on many areas of everyday life, which gives the city its charm for many locals and visitors.

At the end of 2010, 36,207 people in Biel were Swiss citizens, and 14,466 (28.5%) were foreigners. Among the foreigners, people from Italy (3,288 people) make up the largest proportion, followed by immigrants from Portugal (1,221), Germany (1,098), Turkey (885), Spain (827) and Serbia (809 ).

The population of Biel rose sharply from the end of the 19th century until the clock crisis in the 1970s. The peak was recorded in 1970 with more than 64,000 inhabitants. In the following decades the population decreased as a result of the economic crisis (clock crisis) to around 48,000 inhabitants in 2000. Since then, Biel has recovered and Biel's population is growing again and the 50,000-inhabitant mark has been exceeded again. Between 2000 and 2010, Biel's population grew by 7.2%. The city is, especially since the renewed upswing from 2000, a relatively young city in terms of its population, as more than half of the population is under 45 years old: In 2013, the proportion of the population was 0 to 44 year olds 55.9%, the proportion of 45 to 64 year olds 25.4% and the proportion of over 64 year olds 18.7%.

Language / bilingualism

Bilingual street sign

A local variety of Bernese German and French are predominantly spoken in everyday dealings . The official and lingua franca in Biel are the equal languages German and French . As the only city in Switzerland, there is a legal obligation to be bilingual when dealing with the authorities. This means that all official documents and street signs are written in two languages, and official visits can be made in both German and French with equal rights. In certain quarters, both German-speaking and French-speaking students are taught in the same school building.

The consistent equality of the two languages ​​in the city of Biel and in the district of Biel means that all offices and their decrees, the courts, all street signs and all announcements on buses and trains are bilingual. German is always written on top or, if next to each other, in front of French. The French-speaking population of the city of Biel and the municipality of Evilard (Leubringen) has a non-parliamentary interest group, the Council for French-speaking Affairs of the bilingual district of Biel . He is the point of contact for the interests of the French-speaking population of the former bilingual district of Biel with an advisory role for the government council and the cantonal administration of the canton of Bern .

As is customary in large parts of Switzerland, films are shown in cinemas in Biel in the original language with subtitles in German and French, current successful films in additional screenings with versions dubbed in German and French. Only children's films are shown exclusively in synchronized versions.

It is not uncommon for one person to speak German and the other to answer in French. A special feature is the accumulation of Germanisms and loan words in spoken French, which is spoken in Biel / Bienne. B. “ un sip ” for a sip (French “ une gorgée ”), “ manteau de pluie ” for raincoat (French “ imperméable ”), “ un witz ” for a joke (French “ blague ”) or “ poutzer ” for cleaning (instead of French “ nettoyer ”). The influence of the German sentence structure on the spoken French sentences is also noticeable. For example, French-speaking residents of Biel say: “ Je vais laisser réparer mes chaussures ” instead of the correct in high French “ Je vais faire réparer mes chaussures ”.

According to the 2018 census, 48.6% of the population spoke German, 43.17% French, 9.6% Italian, 5.1% Albanian, 3.9% Spanish, 4.0% Portuguese and 8.7% others Languages ​​as mother tongue .

Religions and denominations

According to a survey by the Federal Statistical Office in 2018, 24.3% (10,955 people) of the resident population were Protestant-Reformed , 25.8% (11,617 people) were Roman Catholic , 9.8% (4,427 People) were Muslim and a further 9.0% (4,055 people) were followers of another Christian denomination or another religion. 29.9% (13,450 people) were non-denominational .


Composition of the Biel City Council
Political party 2016 2012 2008 2004 2000 1996 1992
SP / PSR / JUSO 19th 17th 22nd 23 22nd 26th 21st
SVP 11 * 9 * 6th 4th 3 3 3
FDP / PRR 10 11 11 12 16 16 16
Green 8th 7th 8th 8th 6th 4th 5
glp 4th 6th 4th - - - -
EPP 2 2 3 2 2 2 2
Biel People's Party / BDP 2 5 - - - - -
Passerelle 2 1 1 - - - -
EDU 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
PdA 1 - - - - - -
CVP - 1 1 1 1 1 1
FPS - - 3 7th 6th 5 6th
LdU - - - - - 1 1
SD - - - - - 1 1
Various 0 - - 2 3 0 3
Total 60
* including 3 representatives from Die Eidgenossen (DE)

2016 2012 2008 2004 2000 1996 1992

legislative branch

8th 19th 4th 10 11 
A total of 60 seats

The legislative authority is the city ​​council ( conseil de ville ) elected every four years by the voters . The 60 members meet every third Thursday of the month from 6 p.m. in the town hall on Burgplatz in the old town. The sessions are open to the public. The graphic on the left shows the distribution of seats in the city council from January 2017.

Biel's politics and thus the city council are traditionally dominated by the left and in the last legislatures the SP , PSR ( Parti socialiste romand ) and the Greens usually had a more or less narrow majority, which they lost after the 2012 elections. Opposite them is a heterogeneous bourgeois coalition, each led by the FDP and its sister party PRR ( Parti radical-démocratique romand ) , which, however, have suffered losses in recent years. On the right edge of the political spectrum in Biel, contrary to the national trend, it was not the SVP that was the dominant force, but the Auto Party , which appeared from 1994 to 2009 under the name Freedom Party (FPS). The 2008 elections ended the supremacy of the Auto Party and with the 2012 elections the SVP has definitely prevailed as the strongest right-wing party, the Auto Party no longer even stood for this election. In the middle, the green liberals were able to establish themselves, which have been represented in parliamentary groups in the city council since the 2008 elections.


The executing authority is the municipal council ( conseil municipal ) . Since January 1, 2013, it has consisted of five full-time members, each of whom lead a city management. He is elected by the voters proportionally for a term of four years. The municipal council consisted of eight members from 2005 to 2012, four of them full-time, who headed a city management, and four part-time. The city of Biel was thus the only large Swiss municipality with an even number of executive members. In the event of a tie, the mayor (in dialect: Stapi) cast the casting vote.

Acting local councils
Surname since Political party Directorate
Erich Fehr 2011 SP City President, Presidential Directorate
Silvia Steidle 2009 PRR Vice-Mayor, Finance Director
Beat Feurer 2013 SVP Social and Security Directorate
Cédric Némitz 2013 PSR Education, Culture and Sport Directorate
Barbara Schwickert 2009 Green Construction, Energy and Environment Directorate

City Council

The office of city president was created with the revision of the municipal regulations in 1893. The city president is elected by the citizens of the city in a majority and must be a member of the full-time municipal council. From 1991 to the end of 2010 the incumbent was the social democrat Hans Stöckli . In the second round of the replacement elections, Erich Fehr from the Social Democratic Party prevailed against the Greens Barbara Schwickert and has been city president since 2011.

Biel city president

National elections

The voting shares of the parties on the occasion of the National Council elections in 2019 were: SP 26.3%, GPS 24.1%, SVP 15.4%, glp 9.0%, FDP 7.9%, BDP 3.9%, EPP 3.2 %, CVP 2.5%, PdA 1.9%, EDU (incl. DM) 1.2%, Capaul 1.1%.

Cantonal authorities

The first instance court of the canton of Bern , which is responsible for the court district II Biel-Nidau, is located in Biel. As a result of the judicial reform of the canton of Bern, the newly created regional court Biel / Bienne-Berner Jura-Seeland, which is responsible for disputes in the administrative districts of Biel / Bienne , Berner Jura and Seeland , will start its work in the Bieler Amthaus on January 1, 2011 .

In addition, the juvenile court for Biel and the Seeland, the public prosecutor's office for Biel, the Bernese Jura and the Seeland, the investigative magistrate I for Biel, the Bernese Jura and the Seeland as well as the labor court of the city of Biel and the agglomeration communities have their seat in Biel.

The city of Biel is the capital of the Biel / Bienne administrative district. However, since the administrative reform in 2010, the government governor's office in Biel / Bienne has been located in the castle in the neighboring community of Nidau .

Federal offices

Biel is the location of two federal offices. The Federal Office of Communications OFCOM is located in the city, the Federal Office of Sport FOSPO on Biel soil in Magglingen above Biel.


Watch, precision, medical and machine industries

Rolex building in Biel-Bözingen

With the world-famous watch brand Omega , a Rolex production company , Swatch , the largest watch company in the world, and the watch manufacturer Mido, Biel is one of the most important watch cities in the world. Other large watch manufacturers such as Candino , Wenger , Swiss Army Watch , Ebel and Maurice Lacroix are located in Biel. In addition, there are small and medium-sized watch manufacturers, watch manufacturers and suppliers in Biel. The headquarters of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH and the Swiss Control Center for Chronometers (COSC) are located in Biel.

Biel was hit hard by the crisis between 1970 and 1980 and the watchmaking industry lost its dominant position in the Biel economy since the 19th century, while the machine, precision and medical technology industries gained in importance. These companies of precision, precision mechanics, medical technology and the machine industry are traditionally based in Biel.

This recession accelerated Biel's change from a purely industrial to an industrial and service city. In the 1950s and 60s, Biel was the only industrial city in the canton of Bern. At that time, 65 to 70 percent of jobs were in the industrial sector, which is why Biel was hit more than average by the crisis compared to other Swiss cities. At the beginning of the 1990s, 65 percent of employees worked in the service sector and only 35 percent in the industrial sector, although Biel still has a higher quota of employees in the industrial sector in comparison with Switzerland. Not far from Biel are three other important Swiss watch cities: La Chaux-de-Fonds , Grenchen and Le Locle .

Hailed as the city of the future during the years of strong economic boom in the middle of the 20th century, Biel experienced an economic boom until mid-1970. After the watch crisis of the 1970 / 80s, Biel has been recovering since the turn of the millennium. This is noticeable in the falling unemployment rate, the acquisition of new companies, the expansion of existing companies and in the increasing number of inhabitants since 2000.

Today (2013) 11.3% of the employees in the city of Biel are still active in the watch industry and just under a quarter (24%) of all jobs are in the industrial sector . The secondary sector (industry) in Biel is therefore still an important economic factor.


In addition to the watch, precision and machine industries, the city of Biel has paid special attention to the communications industry since the 1990s, also due to its bilingualism. The city, which is shaped by the watch industry, is trying to gain another economic pillar as a city ​​of communication and has benefited in recent years from the arrival of national telecommunications companies such as Orange , Sunrise Communications , 1818 Information . During this time, many companies in the fields of Internet ( Internet service providers / cable network providers ), programming and hardware were also established or settled in Biel.

The Federal Office for Communication (OFCOM) is based in Biel. As another media and communications company, the Swiss Teletext AG has its headquarters in the Biel Congress House.

Growth industries

The growth sectors primarily include medical technology and optics, the watch industry with its suppliers, precision technology, solar and energy technology, the creative and cultural industries, media, information and communication technology, and tourism.

Biel and the automobile

  • 1886: The first vehicle without horses premieres in Biel. It is a three-wheeler powered by a steam engine, designed by the 25-year-old Fritz Henriod .
  • 1893: Fritz Henriod designs his second automobile, this time with a combustion engine.
  • 1897: The Henriod brothers open the first Swiss vehicle company. In 1899 this had to be closed.
  • 1930: The Biel Technicum opens an automotive department (today Bern University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Information Technology, automotive engineering).
  • 1934: Guido Müller (mayor of Biel) and the general manager of General Motors agree that the company wants to manufacture vehicles in Biel. For this purpose, the city of Biel made a newly built factory available to the American company.
  • 1935–1975: General Motors Suisse SA assembles Opel vehicles in buildings behind the train station in Biel, which are now listed buildings . The closure of the plant leads to the layoff of 450 workers.
  • 1975: After 329,864 vehicles built in Biel, the last car, an Opel Rekord Caravan, leaves the General Motors assembly plant in Biel on August 15th .
  • 1993: The Spirit-of-Biel-Bienne solar vehicle , which was built by the Biel Engineering School (Technicum Biel), wins the World Solar Challenge in Australia.
  • 1994: DTC Dynamic Test Center AG was founded in Vauffelin in September as a result of inquiries from business to the automotive engineering department of the Bern University of Applied Sciences .
  • 1996: The Swatch Group develops the Smart in collaboration with Daimler-Benz . The offices were initially located in Biel.
  • 2004: As of January 1, 2004, Opel Schweiz AG is incorporated into General Motors Schweiz AG, thereby leaving its headquarters in Biel.
  • 2007: From March 30th to April 1st the Auto Expo takes place for the first time at the Expopark Biel-Nidau.
  • 2013: On June 21st the test track of the DTC Dynamic Test Center AG opens in Vauffelin .



In Biel, the same publisher, W. Gassmann AG, publishes the German-language daily Bieler Tagblatt and its French-language counterpart, the Journal du Jura , every working day .

All Biel residents and households in the surrounding area receive the free weekly bilingual weekly newspaper Biel Bienne published by the Cortesi office .

The Bieler Official Gazette ( Feuille officielle de Bienne ) is the city gazette and appears once a week on Wednesdays.


The local radio station Canal 3 can be received via cable and antenna in addition to the national, German and French channels and national channels . This broadcasts a German-language program (in Biel and Seeland on 98.6 MHz, in Biel-Bellmund and Neuenstadt on 92.8 and in Grenchen on 87.8 MHz), as well as a French-language program (in Biel and Seeland on 106.8 and in Bienne-Bellmund and in Neuenstadt on 94.0 MHz). Both programs can also be received worldwide via the Internet.

The National Traffic Center ( via suisse ) is located in the Biel Congress Center.

watch TV

The Biel-based local broadcaster TeleBielingue broadcasts a daily program for the region and the city of Biel with topics from the region.

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation has a regional office in the Kongresshaus.

Keystone SDA

One of the 13 regional editorial offices of the Keystone-SDA (formerly SDA) news agency is based in Biel . After the restructuring of the SDA in 2010, the regional editorial office in Biel took over the activities of the dissolved Neuchâtel editorial team .


Car traffic

A5 east bypass, breakthrough of the first section Bözingen-Orpund on November 20, 2009

The city is easily accessible in all directions. Until well into the 21st century, the city was only poorly connected to the national highways ( autobahn ), and due to the lack of diversion options, some areas suffered heavily from the traffic load. The western and eastern bypass of the city was decided by the federal councils as early as 1960, but has only been partially implemented to this day. With the east bypass completed in 2017, the traffic situation has already eased. In the quarters, the focus is increasingly on 30 km / h zones .

The highway A6 combines Biel Lyss and leads from there as a highway on to the cantonal capital of Bern. Between the motorway exit Lyss south and Biel, this connection has only two lanes and is built without a median .

Biel, as the gateway to the Jura , is also directly connected to the Transjurane (A16), completed in 2017, via a motorway with Moutier (German: Münster), Pruntrut , Delsberg and Basel as well as the French Belfort .

Just in time for Expo.02 , the motorway in the direction of Grenchen - Solothurn - Egerkingen was completed, connecting Biel to the national motorway network for the first time and thus directly connecting with Eastern and Central Switzerland. From the Bözingenfeld in Biel, the A5 from Zurich divides into two directions: to the north in the direction of the Jura and to the southwest in the direction of Neuchâtel and Bern. The 4.9 km long eastern bypass (eastern branch) with a total of 4 km tunnel was completed in October 2017. The construction of the complicated 5.2 km long western bypass (western branch) is to begin in 2020.

Only the connection to western Switzerland (direction Neuchâtel - Lausanne - Geneva ) is not yet fully developed by a motorway . The routing on the shores of Lake Biel is still unclear.

Train / bus transport

Neoclassical main portal of Biel station

Long-distance transport

The important Swiss west-east railway connection, the Jura foot line , runs from Geneva via Biel to Zurich and on to Romanshorn and back.

There are other connections with the S-Bahn or the express train to Bern and with the Jura line to Basel, and the Biel-Täuffelen-Ins train takes you along the southern shore of Lake Biel to Ins . There is a bottleneck on the shores of Lake Biel near Ligerz , where the line has not yet been expanded to double tracks. Therefore, this route cannot always be traveled every half hour.

In the area of ​​the city of Biel there are the main train station Biel / Bienne and two other train stations (train station Mett, train station Bözingenfeld), a freight station , a marshalling yard and an industrial plant for the maintenance of the trains. The Bözingenfeld train station went into operation in December 2013 and serves to provide a faster and more direct connection to the industrial and sports area of ​​the city of Biel.

Local transport

Valley station of the Magglingen cable car

In the city and in the agglomeration of Biel, it is mainly the Biel Transport Authority (VB) that is responsible for the fine distribution of public transport . They operate the Biel / Bienne trolleybus with two lines and ten bus lines. The most important local transport hubs in Biel are the Bahnhofplatz and the Zentralplatz, where almost all lines stop. In 1948, however, the Biel tram was shut down .

There are also Postbus lines and other bus lines from other transport companies ( Grenchen and surroundings bus company , Aare Seeland mobile , Binggeli bus company) to various villages and towns around Biel.

In the last century trams also ran in Biel, but they had to give way to “progress”. A re-commissioning of a regional light rail for the Biel agglomeration was planned for 2018, but initially failed due to political resistance from bourgeois parties.

From Biel are two by FUNIC (from French Funiculaires = cable cars) powered funiculars that the regular interval timetable both Magglingen ( Biel-Magglingen-Bahn ) and Leubringen ( Biel-Leubringen train connect) with Biel.

Night traffic

Six night bus routes operate in the city of Biel on the nights from Friday to Saturday and from Saturday to Sunday. The buses each start at three different times and connect Biel with the canton of Solothurn to Solothurn, with the right bank of Lake Biel to Ins and Erlach, with the left bank of Lake Biel to La Neuveville , with Bern, with Büren an der Aare and with the Bernese Jura and the Canton of Jura . Other locations are served on the route to the named end stations.

Tariff association

The Biel / Bienne tariff association exists for the city and agglomeration of Biel , the Grenchen region , the Bernese Jura and the Seeland . Unlike other tariff associations, this is not based on the Swiss Federal Railways when calculating the fare, but on the cost of living in the city of Biel and the prices of the Biel transport company and is therefore cheaper. The Biel tariff association has been part of the Bern-Solothurn tariff association (Libero) since December 2014 .


Scheduled ship of the BSG in the port

On the Lake Biel run 9 Public boat of Lake Biel Navigation Company (ESR). The BSG has the largest scheduled ship of the three lakes (MS St. Petersinsel) and the largest solar-electric powered passenger ship in the world (MobiCat). As scheduled and excursion ships, these serve nine different locations on the shores of Lake Biel, St. Petersinsel , eight locations along the Aare and the Nidau-Büren Canal as far as Solothurn. When Regulierwehr port the ships pass through a lock. The so-called three-lake tour leads to Lake Biel, Lake Neuchâtel and Lake Murten .

In addition, since November 2010 the traditional ship Romandie I - 1952 under the direction of the association has been sailing as a luxurious saloon ship from the home port of Biel to Lake Biel and via the Zihl Canal and Broye Canal to Lake Neuchâtel and Lake Murten. The ship travels via the Aare to Solothurn.

Air traffic

First attempts at organized air traffic either for seaplanes in the Bielerseebucht or on the Ipsachmoos in Ipsach failed in 1920. In 1928 the town in Bözingenfeld bought land on which the first airfield was established. Soon afterwards Biel was served by the airlines Balair and Ad Astra and was a station on the Lausanne-Zurich airmail route. Shortly afterwards, the airlines moved their stopover from Biel to Bern. The airfield in Bözingenfeld was closed in 1963 and ceased as an industrial zone four years later. Instead, the project for a new airfield in Kappelen was tackled and completed in 1969 while the glider pilots were deployed to Courtelary . In the economically good 1960s and 1970s, Biel also had an initiative for an airport, but this project was never realized.

Biel / Bienne-Kappelen airfield, 6 km south-east of the city center, now has a grass runway 570 m long and records around 8,400 aircraft movements per year. Grenchen regional airport is located 13 km east of the city, with an asphalt runway 1000 m long and around 75,000 aircraft movements per year, which is much more important and which is operated all year round.

The international airports of Zurich and Geneva can be reached directly from Biel by train without changing trains. There are two direct connections per hour to Zurich Airport (travel time around 1:30), and to Geneva Airport there is one direct connection per hour (travel time around 1:35).


Biel is the educational center of the Seeland and the Bernese Jura and thus has an important function. Not least because of the bilingualism, the range of schools on all levels, from kindergarten to university, is above average and offered in both German and French.

Compulsory schools

The city of Biel is divided into the three school districts Biel-Stadt, Madretsch and Mett-Bözingen. Compulsory schooling lasts nine years, consisting of six years of primary level (first to sixth grade) and three years of lower secondary level (seventh to ninth grade or seventh to eighth grade and quarters ).

The primary level is attended in thirteen German-speaking and eleven French-speaking schools. Some schools accommodate both German-speaking and French-speaking classes in the same school building.

At the secondary level, there is one German and one French-speaking upper level center (OSZ) per school district. For the German-speaking students these are the OSZ Rittermatte (Biel-Stadt), the OSZ Madretsch and the OSZ Mett-Bözingen, and for the French-speaking students the Collège de la Suze (Biel-Stadt), the Collège des Platanes (Madretsch) and the Collège du Châtelet (Mett-Bözingen). The offer is supplemented by several private schools and a Steiner school .

Further training

Alpenstrasse high school
Main building of the Bern University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Information Technology

Biel is home to two high schools , namely the German-speaking high school Biel-Seeland and the French -speaking high school français de Bienne . The Seeland Gymnasium is one of the largest high schools in the Canton of Bern. Both the Biel-Seeland grammar school and the grammar school français de Bienne cooperate to offer a bilingual Matura (German / French).

The most important tertiary educational institutions ( university ) in Biel include:

These universities make up all departments of the Bern University of Applied Sciences and offer Bachelor and Master courses .

Other important secondary schools are the Bern and Biel School of Design , the Swiss Training Center for Marketing, Advertising and Communication (SAWI), the Biel-Seeland Nursing School , the Mittelland Higher Technical School and the «sanu | education for sustainable development». A purely French-speaking college of education , the Haute école pédagogique des cantons de Berne, du Jura et de Neuchâtel (HEP BeJuNe) is also located in the city with several departments.

In addition, other existing vocational schools , training facilities, a community college , a Migros Club Schools , a Conservatory of Music and several language schools.


With the support of the Canton of Bern , a national innovation park (Swiss Innovation Park) is to be built in the city, known as the watchmaking stronghold, by 2020. The area is located not far from Biel train station and is attached to the newly emerging campus of the Bern University of Applied Sciences . The innovation park envisaged by the Swiss Parliament is intended to stimulate Swiss research and development through close cooperation between the university and business. The bilingual Biel- Seeland - Bernese Jura region should provide the researchers with the necessary synergies between business and research through the existing precision, machine and tool industry with the main application areas of clocks and medical technology.

Infrastructure and healthcare


The city of Biel owns the Biel Spitalzentrum as the main, intensive and emergency hospital , with one department each for adults and children (Wildermeth Children's Hospital). This bilingual hospital, located at the southern foot of the Jura in the Beaumont district, is the public medical center for the bilingual Biel-Seeland region and the southern Bernese Jura. As the largest regional hospital center in the canton of Bern, the Biel Hospital Center guarantees comprehensive care in almost all medical specialties. His range of services also includes specialty areas that are unique in the region's hospital system.

Furthermore, the Linde private clinic has existed since 1954, which is located on a built-up hill in the Madretsch district. In addition to a comprehensive catalog of services, it also offers a 24-hour emergency and is the leading private clinic in the Biel - Seeland - Bernese Jura region , as well as a medical and health center. The well-known Villa Linde sports clinic is connected to it.

The above-average accumulation of other smaller clinics and medical practices can be explained by the central function of the city of Biel for the region.

Waste, energy and water supply

The energy, natural gas and water supplies for the city of Biel are provided by Energie Service Biel / Bienne (ESB). Since a referendum in 2013, the ESB has been an independent public-law municipality owned by the city of Biel. This company also supplies surrounding communities, such as Nidau, with some of its services.

20% of the drinking water comes from groundwater from the Gimmiz groundwater works , 10% from the Leugenen spring east of Biel and 70% from treated water from Lake Biel . The water of Lake Biel is of very good quality, as the average retention time of the water in the lake is extremely short at 60 to 70 days compared to other bodies of water and the wind activity at the southern foot of the Jura, which is above average for Swiss conditions, ensures that the water masses are well mixed. In Biel, water from various sources is mixed. The hardness is therefore in the range of medium-hard water and has a French water hardness between 18 and 22  ° fH . To remove trace substances - such as B. Breakdown products of the pesticide chlorothalonil - to reduce it in drinking water, a solution is being sought.

The electricity of the ESB consists of 100% renewable sources (mostly hydropower) from Swiss suppliers.

Bielersee Kraftwerke AG, in which ESB holds a half, produces well over 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity from renewable sources every year. The Hagneck, Brügg and Biel-Bözingen hydropower plants , one of the oldest in Switzerland (1892), belong to Bielersee Kraftwerke AG . In addition, electricity is generated in Biel in the ESB's Taubenloch small hydropower plant.

Culture, art and sights

Culture and museums

Museum Schwab in the Pasquart district

Biel has various cultural institutions to offer. The Schwab Museum is a historical museum with an archaeological collection, the Neuhaus Museum exhibits art and history in a historic Biel textile factory, and the renovated apartment of the founder Dora Neuhaus (1889–1975) has been open to visitors since 1985, the CentrePasquArt , an association of Kunsthaus, Photoforum, Kunstverein and Filmpodium deals with modern art. Other museums are the Machine Museum Center Müller , which exhibits 150 machines from the years 1880 to 1940 in reconstructed workshops from the beginning of the 20th century, the Optical Museum with optical objects from four centuries and the museum of the Omega watch brand . There are also several concert halls, various theaters, music cellars, libraries, cinemas, toy libraries and the gas boiler (Chessu / Coupole) of the Autonomous Youth Center. The city also has an animal park.

Burgplatz with the fountain of justice in the middle


Historical old city

The old town of Biel, dating from the 15th to 18th centuries, is located on the northern edge of the city, away from the flow of pedestrians. The old town, which is still inhabited today, is considered one of the best preserved in Europe. Neon signs are just as absent as branches of major distributors or even new buildings. Small shops and local businesses such as butchers, second-hand stores and restaurants fit in well with the historic streets. Weekly markets take place several times a week . Only a small part of the old town is allowed to be traveled by car at 20 km / h.

A large part of the old town is crisscrossed by stream beds. The now covered streams were of great importance in the Middle Ages, as the tanners, among others, needed the water for their daily work. In the course of technical development, this became obsolete and the streams were covered or built over and disappeared underground.

Noteworthy architectural monuments in Biel's old town are the late Gothic town church (built between 1451 and 1470) on the Ring , the Guild House for Waldleuten (from the late 16th century) with its bay window , the Vennerbrunnen (built in 1546) and the Alte Krone building (1582) two step gables and a stair tower and the town hall (1530). The Biel City Theater, seat of the Biel Solothurn Theater Orchestra , which is the smallest public ensemble theater in Switzerland, has been located in the old arsenal on Burgplatz since 1842 .

Third and current main station in Biel

railway station

The neoclassical Biel station was built in 1923 as a new station for the city of Biel in a new location, replacing the previously built stations. In it is a practically unchanged station buffet , which was built in the Art Deco style. Furthermore, a first-class waiting room from this period has remained unchanged. The station buffet, which is worthy of protection, was converted into a counter hall in 2010 through the renovation of the station. With a flow of around 50,000 people commuting per day, Biel station is one of the 10 largest Swiss train stations. Well-preserved former tram shelters from the 1930s can be found all over the city. Many are now used as bus shelters, others only serve as works of art. The most important are on Zentralplatz, Juraplatz and Kreuzplatz.


View of the Blöschhaus from Mühlebrücke-Strasse
View of the Blöschhaus from Mühlebrücke-Strasse

The Blöschhaus is located in the lowest part of the foothills of the southern foot of the Jura at Mühlebrücke 5 in the Seevorstadt district. The representative villa was built in 1818 and served the industrial family as a residence until the First World War . In 1939 the city of Biel acquired the building and seven years later the villa became the seat of the city ​​president and the city chancellery of Biel. The classicist villa is listed and worth protecting.


Base of the Venner Fountain
Former fountain on the Schüssbrücke - moved to the central square

There are well over 100 fountains in the Biel city area. The oldest and most worth seeing are in the old town. The water is drinking water and comes from the Roman spring and the spring at the Falhaben. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the wells were considered sacred. Polluters were fined. Until the early 20th century, the people of Biel used the water from their wells on a daily basis.

The Vennerbrunnen is located on the ring in the old town and is the oldest fountain in the city. He is the symbol of defensibility and the right to own troops of the city of Biel. The base was created in 1546 and the standard bearer in 1557.

The Justice Fountain, located in the old town on Burgplatz, was built in 1535 after the completion of the town hall. The Justitia was only created in 1714 by the French émigré Jean Boyer. It is the symbol of one's own jurisdiction.

The Angel Fountain , located on Obergasse in the old town, is the symbol of the protection of the human soul from evil by an angel. The fountain stick and the statue date from 1563.

At Walkeplatz, Marktplatz, Brunnenplatz, Zentralplatz (1871) and in the Pasquart-Quartier (several fountains around 1866) are extremely well-preserved and well-kept fountains from the 19th and early 20th centuries.


City Church Biel

Since Biel is bilingual, there are - in addition to various smaller churches - a German-speaking and a French-speaking large Reformed church. The town church on the Ring is visited by the German speakers and the Pasquart church in Seevorstadt by the French speakers. Other Reformed churches in the municipality are the Stephanskirche in Biel-Mett (oldest church in Biel, dating back to the early Middle Ages) as well as the Zwingli Church in Biel-Bözingen and the Pauluskirche in Biel-Madretsch, both from the mid-20th century. The largest Catholic church, St. Maria , is located in the area of ​​the Jura suburb. It is one of the few expressionist churches in Switzerland and is the mother church of the two younger Catholic parishes, Brother Klaus and Christ-König . The synagogue of the Jewish community is also located on Rüschlistrasse .

Recreational areas

Almost the entire lakeshore in the urban area is designed as an extensive recreation zone with leisure and sports facilities, swimming pool, seaside resort, boat harbor facilities and playgrounds as well as green areas. This is the area that extends to Nidau on which the Swiss National Exhibition Expo.02 took place. The beach floor was raised in 1973 and is located at the point where Lake Biel and the promenade used to be until 1973 .

In addition to the lake promenade, the built-up urban area is loosened up by several parks and green spaces. These are the Stadtpark, the Elfenau Park, the Mühleinsel, the Schüsspromenade, the Jutzhubel viewing terrace and the zoo.

Other local recreational areas include the Büttenberg forest between Biel and Orpund, the Längholz forest on the edge of the seamlessly merged settlement area of ​​Biel and Brügg, the slopes of the southern foot of the Jura and the vineyards on Lake Biel to the west of the city and St. Petersinsel in Lake Biel.

Especially in winter, the population of Biel spends some of their free time in the winter sports resorts of Les Prés-d'Orvin and Magglingen above and in the immediate vicinity of the city. In Les Prés-d'Orvin there is next to ski lifts for alpine skiing, the starting point for the more than 50 km long cross-country skiing area Les Prés-d'Orvin - Chasseral . The various trails are located at 1028 to 1540  m above sea level. M. and are also groomed for classic style and skating. The trail network leads u. a. from the plateau around Les Prés-d'Orvin to the summit of the Chasseral past various Métairies (French for working farms). From Monday to Friday, the alpine ski slopes are floodlit until 10 p.m. and the cross-country ski run until 9 p.m. , so that it is possible to practice the sport at night.


Bauhaus and international style
Bauhaus building

The district around Bahnhofstrasse and Zentralplatz is often viewed as an old town by non-locals. However, this part of the city did not emerge until the beginning of the 20th century, with Biel stipulating an extremely modern flat roof construction method for this district in 1930. Between the train station and the central square as well as the parallel streets there is a uniquely large collection of houses in the Bauhaus or international style from the 1920s and 1930s, which are predominantly white or in the light beige tones of the Jura stone, the Volkshaus (1932, by Eduard Lanz ) is clad with dark red bricks. In terms of its homogeneity and characteristics, this area is comparable to the Bauhaus city of Dessau and the White City in Tel Aviv .

Biel received the Wakker Prize from the Swiss Homeland Security in 2004 for special services to the protection of the local image .

Turn of the century
Historic building on the central square

North of the Schüss River and between the central square and the Mühlebrücke is an urban area of ​​Biel that was built around the turn of the century. This is characterized by Wilhelminian style , Art Nouveau and Belle Époque residential and commercial buildings and by upper-class houses from the turn of the century. Worth seeing is bswpw. the listed control building on the central square. The municipal control office for gold, silver and precious metal for the watch industry in Biel used to be located in this stately building from the early days of the company. In the 1960s / 70s, a number of houses that are extremely worth preserving from today's perspective were demolished and replaced by new buildings. These include several houses in Nidaugasse, rows of houses on General-Guisan-Platz (e.g. old Bielerhof, Lichtspielhaus Capitol) and Haus Rüschli on Zentralstrasse.

Felseck Pavilion

The Felseck pavilion above the city of Biel on the slopes of the southern foot of the Jura was built from wood in 1825. But the pavilion fell victim to an arson attack in 1893. Five years later the new stone pavilion was built in the form of an ancient Tuscan round temple.


Villa Rockhall

In the immediate vicinity of Biel's old town, but outside the former city ​​walls, are the three Rockhall buildings on the Seevorstadt. Between 1692 and 1694 the middle main building and the surrounding self-sufficiency farms were built for Johann Franz Thellung as a country estate.

Two mirror-like villas were built to the left and right of the main Rockhall building in 1900. After sharply changing owners, the management of the Biel University of Applied Sciences for Technology and Computer Science is now located in the former main building, the only bilingual civil registry office in the canton, which is responsible for the administrative region of Zealand , in Villa Rockhall III , and the bilingual Swiss Literature Institute in the other villa.

Beach floor

The area from today's train station to the lakeshore was filled in from 1973 and the beach floor was created in place of the former promenade. This is a very popular place to stroll, bathe in the sun and enjoy the view of the lake, Bird Island or, in the distance, St. Peters Island .


Biel's lido was built in the 1920s in the Bauhaus style and gently renovated for Expo.02. The semicircular shape, open to the lake, is typical of the architecture of public buildings of this time.

Congress House

Congress House

The congress center, which opened in 1966, is the structural landmark of modern Biel. It was designed by Max Schlup . At that time the congress house had the largest suspended roof in Europe. The congress house serves as a congress center, concert building and also has a 25-meter swimming pool with a fitness facility. Various offices, including parts of the city administration, are located in the associated tower.

Swan colony

The over 100-year-old non-profit swan colony on the Biel-Schüss is home to various native birds in its aviaries and also has a wild bird garden.

The Biel Swan Colony was founded in 1897 by the Ornithological Association and has been part of the culture of the city and region of Biel ever since. At times it was run by the Ornithological Association and the city of Biel. In 1991 the city of Biel set up the Swan Colony Foundation with the help of private sponsors, which has managed the swan colony since that time. The city council of Biel elects the foundation council.

In 2015 only two of the eponymous animals still live in the swan colony, namely black mourning swans. For many years it has also served as a sanctuary for various species of birds - including various parakeet species that are not kept privately in a species-appropriate manner or ornamental birds without owners. In addition, the swan colony takes care of numerous injured or too young wild birds until they are released into the wild in cooperation with the gamekeeper and the Orpund animal shelter. The emergency bird flap set up in 2009 is used extensively by the Biel population. Over 200 birds are given away each year and are looked after by two animal keepers.

The Board of Trustees of the Swan Colony and the Pro Swan Colony Association, founded in 2015, fought for the survival of the emergency and rescue center because funding was only secured until April 2016. After negotiations with the city council and thanks to the great support of the population, the swan colony is financed partly by the reduced budget contribution from the city of Biel and partly by donations from business and the population.

Taubenloch Gorge

The entrance to the wild and romantic Taubenloch Gorge is in Biel-Bözingen . The 2 km long hike along the Schüss in the Jurakluse ends in Friedliswart (Frinvillier). At the end of the gorge, electricity is produced in a small waterworks.

Testimony of the pile dwellers

The best preserved site of the pile dwellers on Lake Biel is in the district of Biel-Vingelz . This settlement dates from the Neolithic Age .

Tram shelters

Tram shelter on the central square

All over the city there are well-preserved former tram shelters, also known as “mushrooms” due to their shape, from the 1930s. Many are now used as bus shelters, others only serve as works of art or as a meeting place for Biel's residents. The most important are on Zentralplatz, Juraplatz and Kreuzplatz.


New building in Biel

In 1930, Biel was the first and only Swiss city to receive special building regulations stipulating the flat roof. These building regulations were mandatory for the newly emerging modern business district in the station district. The main sponsor of Biel Modernism was the city architect Otto Schaub.


Annual events

  • Biel Carnival (late February to early March; the children's parade is one of the largest of its kind in Europe)
  • Lake Biel Festival with fireworks on the beach and on the lake on July 31 (the eve of the Swiss national holiday)
  • Bieler Braderie , the largest folk festival in the Biel agglomeration (end of June)
  • Barbarie (counter-movement of the commercial event Braderie, takes place at the same time)
  • Old town chilbi (end of august )
  • Podring (cultural fair with music and exhibitions in the old town)
  • Biel fair
  • International Biel Chess Festival
  • Biel running days with the famous 100 km run (June)
  • The Biel Photo Days take place in September. It is the only annual photo festival in Switzerland.
  • The Festival du film français d'Helvétie
  • International Oldtime Jazz Festival Biel / Bienne
  • The Comdays - international communication days organized every year by the Federal Office of Communication
  • The Babyday - the fair for babies and toddlers
  • Show Your Steps, annual national dance competition in the Kongresshaus
  • The Christmas exhibition of the Biel Art Association
  • The ArtDialog association organizes the art festival of the same name, which unites music, visual arts and wine art


Towers and helix bridge on the Arteplage platform at Expo.02

Together with the cities of Neuchâtel, Murten and Yverdon-les-Bains , Biel hosted the Swiss national exhibition Expo.02 in 2002. The exhibition area, known as the “Arteplage”, was partly on a temporary platform built into Lake Biel and partly on Biel Strandboden and the Nidauer Expo-Park. After the end of Expo.02 everything was dismantled and only a few objects from Expo.02 can be seen. These are the binoculars with an imaginary view of the Expo.02 platform on the beach floor, the intentionally rusty cabanne on the banks of the Schüss on Gottstattstrasse, the former Expo.02 pavilion “ Territoire Imaginaire ” (today: Le Pavillon event building ) on Zentralstrasse and Terminal B in Brügg .

Culinary specialties

The “Bieler Bsetzisteine” (French: Pavé de Bienne , German: Bieler Pflastersteine), a praline specialty, are considered a culinary specialty of the city of Biel . It is offered in many Biel bakeries and confectioneries.

Other delicacies are perch fillets Bieler Art and in the wine-growing region on Lake Biel the Treberwurst .

The white and red wines of the wine-growing region on the left bank of Lake Biel are also considered a specialty . Significantly more white than red wine is grown there.


sports clubs

Logo of the EHC Biel

By far the most popular team sport in Biel is ice hockey . The EHC Biel is three times Swiss champions in ice hockey. Since the 2008/09 season he has been back in the highest league in Switzerland , which the club had belonged to for 20 years before relegation.

In football, the former Swiss football champions FC Biel-Bienne plays interregional in the second division after the bankruptcy and the associated relegation from the second highest Swiss football league. There are also other small and medium-sized football clubs in lower leagues. The handball club HS Biel in the NLB, the skater hockey clubs Bienne Skaters 90 and Biel-Seelanders in the NLA and the American football club Bienna Jets in the NLB play in the higher leagues in less noticed sports .

With the Olympic Games in 2004, the Biel fencing club gained fame throughout Switzerland, as Olympic champion Marcel Fischer's career began there. He comes from the municipality of Brügg near Biel. There is also a club for the German-speaking Swiss national sport, wrestling, in the city. The Squash Club Biel-Bienne has already won two Swiss championships.

Thanks to Biel's favorable location directly on the lake, there are many rowing clubs , sailing clubs and other water sports clubs on the shores of Lake Biel . In addition, the Swiss Tennis Association (Swiss Tennis) has its headquarters and a training center in Biel.

Sports facilities

Biel has several sports facilities. The most important facility is the Tissot Arena , which in 2015 replaced the ice rink Biel , which was built in 1973 and now only holds 7,000 spectators, and the Gurzelen football stadium, which was built in 1913 and holds 15,000 spectators . The Tissot Arena includes an ice rink, a covered ice rink, a football stadium and a curling hall. The construction project with the project name Stades de Bienne was clearly approved by the people of Biel on December 7, 2007 and March 7, 2010 in popular votes (each with 75% yes votes). On February 4, 2015, it was announced that the watch manufacturer Tissot had acquired the naming rights for ten years and the stadiums will be called Tissot Arena . A bocciadrome , several tennis courts and halls, including the 2500-place Swiss Tennis Arena, squash facilities, fencing facilities and other sports facilities complete the offer.

Sporting events

The city is also internationally known for the international chess festival that has been held every year in the second half of July since 1968 and regularly brings a large number of chess enthusiasts from all over the world to Biel. In 1976, 1985 and 1993 the interzonal tournaments for the World Chess Championship were held here.

The oldest 100-kilometer run in the world, the Bieler Lauftage , which was founded in 1958 as a military event, takes place every year in Biel. Every year in mid-June, several thousand endurance athletes from all over the world are drawn to this event and the other running and inline offers on these running days.

From June 1st to 5th, 2016, the European Beach Volleyball Championship took place in Biel.



In the city of Biel, St. Nicholas comes traditionally up to a week later than in the rest of Switzerland, because since the 18th century people have only celebrated on the second Tuesday in December. The reason for this is not known for certain; several stories and legends circulate. One says that the bakers did not have time to bake gingerbread during the fire in the old town of Biel in 1367 because of the extinguishing work, and that the Chlouser day was therefore postponed from that point on. A second variant states that the Bishop of Basel was unable to give presents in Basel and Biel on the same day and that it was therefore postponed. As a third possibility, it is said that the Chlouser market has been set for the second Tuesday in December in order to avoid clashes with the many other markets, which used to be mostly on Thursdays.

Underground water

As in the old town, large parts of the new town of Biel are also under water. Several streams and canals have been covered or built over over time. Many houses therefore stand on stilts.

Controllable waterfall

As a curiosity there is a waterfall that can be turned on and off by human hands at the lower end of the Taubenloch Gorge . The waterfall is put into operation up to five times a year, mostly at Easter , Pentecost , the national holiday on August 1st and one more time in summer. During the rest of the year, the water is needed to generate electricity with the help of a small sluice.

Shopping / Shopping award

The attractiveness study by Credit Suisse (Credit Suisse Economic Research 2011) names Biel as the eighth best shopping city in Switzerland. According to this study, downtown Biel offers the right mix of shopping options and good accessibility. Only the offer can still be expanded. However, with the entry of well-known shops into the market, the range has been continuously expanded in the recent past.

Largest range of television channels

In view of the fact that it is bilingual, the city of Biel has 99 free-to-air channels in the cable television network . This is twice as much as in the other Swiss cities, as both German and French-language channels are broadcast in Biel.

Name sponsorships

On December 8, 2011, Swiss baptized the Airbus A321-212 with the aircraft registration HB-IOM in the name of Biel / Bienne. For the third time, the city of Biel has the honor of naming a Swissair / Swiss aircraft after it.

Biel worldwide

  • A large street in the White City housing estate in Berlin was named after the city of Biel around 1930. Strassen were also named after the city of Biel in other cities in Switzerland and abroad, for example in Bielefeld and Strasbourg .
  • In Vienna , a settlement in Bieler Hof was named in honor of the city of Biel after the Second World War .

International solidarity

Town twinning

Municipal aid campaign Vienna-Floridsdorf

The Viennese workers' quarter Floridsdorf ( Austria ) was 50% destroyed after the Second World War. In order to support the needy population , the aid campaign "Biel helps Floridsdorf" , which was presided over by the former city president Guido Müller and founded at the suggestion of Otto Kunz, editor of the Seeländer Volksstimme, was launched. On January 8, 1947, six railway wagons with relief supplies from Biel and the many helping Zeeland communities arrived in Vienna-Floridsdorf and a total of over 26 tons of food and 21 tons of clothing and household items were distributed to the needy population. The hospital received support in a second phase. To commemorate the relief operation and as a token of gratitude, the Bieler-Hof in Vienna-Floridsdorf was inaugurated on June 26, 1948 in the presence of Otto Kunz, the mayor of Vienna Theodor Körner and Guido Müller.



  • Anne-Marie Dubler and Tobias Kästli: Biel (BE, municipality). In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Editor: Madretsch. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  • Biel-Bienne A – Z. Biel-Bienne Verlag, Biel 2008 (and older editions).
  • Biel history. Edited by the city of Biel. 1st half volume: from the beginnings to 1815. 2nd half volume: 1815 until today. here + now, Baden 2013, ISBN 978-3-03919-289-2 .
  • Werner and Marcus Bourquin: Biel Stadtgeschichtliches Lexikon. From Roman times (Petinesca) to the late 1930s. Office Cortesi Biel, Biel / Bienne 1999, ISBN 3-906140-40-7 .
  • Sarah-Jane Conrad, Daniel Elmiger (Ed.): Living and talking in Biel / Bienne. Vivre et communiquer dans une ville bilingual. Communication in a bilingual city. Une experience biennoise. Narr Verlag, Tübingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-8233-6589-1 .
  • Ingrid Ehrensperger u. a .: The Neuhaus Museum in Biel (= Swiss Art Guide GSK, Volume 585/586). Edited by the Society for Swiss Art History GSK. Bern 1995, ISBN 3-85782-585-5 .
  • Ingrid Ehrensperger-Katz, Margrit Wick-Werder: Biel Bienne (= Swiss Art Guide GSK, Volume 705/706, Series 71). Edited by the Society for Swiss Art History GSK. Bern 2002, ISBN 3-85782-705-X .
  • Tobias Kästli: The red Biel 1919–1939: Problems of social democratic community politics . Fagus, Bern 1988, ISBN 3-905600-00-5 .
  • Tobias Kästli: The past of the future city, labor movement, progress and crises in Biel 1815-1919. Fagus, Bern 1989, ISBN 3-905600-01-3 .
  • Franz Oswald u. a .: Helvéti-Cité: The “Netzstadt Drei-Seen-Land” project. Case study on the urban design of the territory. Zurich 2004 (urban planning, joint project of the cities of Biel, Murten, Neuchâtel and Yverdon-les-Bains to follow up on Expo.02).

Web links

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Individual evidence

  1. Permanent resident population from STAT-TAB of the BfS , municipalities see also regional portraits 2020 on, accessed on May 29, 2020
  2. ^ According to the Linguistic Atlas of German Switzerland V 1b and Heinrich Baumgartner : The dialects of the Bernese Seeland. Frauenfeld 1922 (Contributions to the Swiss German Grammar XIV), especially p. 169 ff., On the differences between the dialects of the various Biel population groups.
  3. a b Lexicon of Swiss municipality names . Edited by the Center de Dialectologie at the University of Neuchâtel under the direction of Andres Kristol. Verlag Huber, Frauenfeld / Stuttgart / Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-7193-1308-5 and Éditions Payot, Lausanne 2005, ISBN 2-601-03336-3 , pp. 153f.
  4. Agglomerations and cores outside of agglomerations, 2012. (XLS; 404 kB) Federal Statistical Office, December 18, 2014, accessed on February 10, 2015 .
  5. AGGLOMERATION BIEL / BIENNE 2030 - structure plan settlement and transport. ( Memento of the original from April 26, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. City portrait. In: (PDF). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Federal Office for Meteorology and Climatology (MeteoSchweiz): 1981-2010  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Dead Link /   , accessed February 9, 2016
  7. Federal Statistical Office (2006): Nomenclatures - Official Register of Municipalities in Switzerland: Quarters of large and medium-sized cities
  8. Agglomerations and cores outside of agglomerations, 2012. (xls; 404 kB) Federal Statistical Office, December 18, 2014, accessed on February 8, 2015 .
  9. Retrieved on April 18, 2012 ( Memento from May 31, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  10. ^ BE Nidau, Archeology in the project perimeter of the urban planning vision AGGLOlac (page 4f .; PDF; 275 kB) Retrieved on April 18, 2012.
  11. Heinrich Gottfried Gengler: Regesten and documents on the constitutional and legal history of German cities in the Middle Ages. Erlangen 1863, pp. 212-219.
  12. Winfried Hecht: The Julius banner of the town facing Rottweil. In: Der Geschichtsfreund: Messages from the Central Switzerland Historical Association . 126/7 (1973/4). doi : 10.5169 / seals-118647
  13. ^ Collection of Swiss legal sources. Section II: The legal sources of the Canton of Bern. First part: city ​​rights. Volume 13: Paul Bloesch: The legal sources of the city of Biel with their "outer goals" Bözingen, Vingelz and Leubringen. with a register by Achilles Weishaupt, Basel 2003.
  14. Data up to 188 cited from: Georg Germann, Werner Stutz: Inventory of the newer Swiss architecture , 1850–1920 . Biel. In: Society for Swiss Art History (Ed.): INSA . tape 3 . Orell Füssli, Zurich 1982, ISBN 3-280-01397-6 , p. 33 , col. 2 , doi : 10.5169 / seals-4534 ( [accessed on December 29, 2015]).
  15. ^ City of Biel - Lived bilingualism. Retrieved February 13, 2019 .
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  17. STAT-TAB: The interactive statistics database. (asp) (No longer available online.) FSO, July 3, 2013, formerly in the original ; Retrieved July 3, 2013 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  18. a b Social space analysis city of Biel / Bienne according to statistical districts. (PDF) City of Biel / Bienne - urban planning (Infraconsult), August 11, 2014, accessed on December 16, 2016 .
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  22. ^ Results of the 2012 municipal elections. (Cfm) City of Biel / Bienne, September 23, 2012, accessed on September 13, 2013 .
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  28. ^ Members of the parish council. In: Retrieved January 1, 2013.
  29. Replacement elections December 19, 2010 ( Memento from July 29, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  30. Stöckli resigns at the end of the year. Bieler Tagblatt, July 16, 2010.
  31. ^ Anne-Marie Dubler and Tobias Kästli: Biel (BE, municipality). In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland .
  32. Elections and Votes. Retrieved November 17, 2019 .
  33. ^ District Court II Biel-Nidau ( Memento from April 7, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  34. Youth Ombudsman Office - Bernese Jura-Seeland Office
  35. ^ Civil jurisdiction - Bernese Jura-Seeland
  36. ^ Biel / Bienne (the management) Justice, community and church management - Canton of Bern
  37. ^ Radio Canal 3
  38. Deborah Balmer: The new autobahn should bring quieter quarters . In: Berner Zeitung, Berner Zeitung . July 9, 2017, ISSN  1424-1021 ( [accessed on February 11, 2018]).
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  40. Jura Autobahn A16 completed - the long way to the Transjurane . In: Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) . ( [accessed on February 11, 2018]).
  41. ^ New autobahn - Biel opens the east branch of the autobahn bypass . In: Swiss Radio and Television (SRF) . ( [accessed on February 11, 2018]).
  42. Reto WissmannKorrespondent Biel / Seeland @ RetoWissmann: Bieler Regiotram will not be built after all . In: The Bund . March 27, 2015, ISSN  0774-6156 ( [accessed February 11, 2018]).
  43. Moonliner
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  45. ESB & Organization. (No longer available online.) Energie Service Biel / Bienne, archived from the original on December 8, 2016 ; Retrieved December 8, 2016 .
  46. YOUR DRINKING WATER FROM ESB SEEWATER - GROUNDWATER - SPRING WATER. (PDF; 2.2 MB) (No longer available online.) Energie Service Biel, archived from the original on March 14, 2016 ; Retrieved December 8, 2016 .
  47. Quality of drinking water in Biel and Nidau. In: February 5, 2020, accessed February 7, 2020 .
  48. ^ Stephan Weber: Prohibited chlorothalonil - limit values ​​exceeded - "We deliver anyway". In: . February 6, 2020, accessed February 7, 2020 .
  49. electricity. (No longer available online.) Energie Service Biel, archived from the original on December 8, 2016 ; Retrieved December 8, 2016 .
  50. The page lists 120 fountains with images and text in the category of fountains and water features ( memento of August 24, 2016 in the Internet Archive ).
  51. ^ Ingrid Ehrensperger-Katz: Former country house Rockhall Biel. (Swiss Art Guide, No. 282). Ed. Society for Swiss Art History GSK. Bern 1980, ISBN 978-3-85782-282-7 .
  52. ArtDialog Festival
  53. From "Stade de Bienne" is TISSOT ARENA: partnership between the city of Biel, TISSOT and sports clubs. (No longer available online.) Tissot, February 4, 2015, archived from the original on February 5, 2015 ; accessed on February 10, 2015 .