The Garden of Rosescalled the Roseraire in the local language
The guides recommend coming to this place to get a ballpark idea of the city and take the best photo, without a doubt, a successful suggestion. We recommend everyone to feel: the fresh air, the aroma of hundreds of varieties of roses, the magnitude of the Alps that can be seen in the background, the life that the Aare river brings to the city and the privilege of being in front of one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
To get there, the best thing to do is walk from the Bear Pit, East of the city after crossing the bridge. The lookout is just above. From the fountain of the roundabout, in the street on your left, we will immediately see the little ascent path to our left that we must follow. From the roundabout to the viewpoint there are 350 meters of pedestrian path in very good condition and on a slight upward slope. It takes five minutes to go up. Before arriving, we will meet Mr. Albert Einstein, who enjoys the views sitting on his bench.
We can take a photo with this personality who revolutionized modern physics and who was an illustrious resident of this city between 1902 and 1909. In the viewpoint there is a cafeteria and public toilets. More than two hundred well-classified and perfectly preserved varieties of roses are on display in the garden. Normally, the gardeners of the town hall work here in the morning and are happy to answer our questions about the varieties, the care or the origin of each species, among other curiosities.
From the viewpoint to the South we have the best panoramic view of the city, of the river and of the Bernese Alps with iconic peaks such as the Eiger or Jungfrau. On autumn days, the trees in the garden and on the promenade offer captivating colors that contrast with the green of the river, the gray of the city and the white of the peaks.
Alter Aargauerstalden 31b 3006 Bern, it´s free and always open.
We arrive in Bern early, but looking forward for a snack. In any bakery, pastry shop or in many of the cafes we will find Meitschibei (woman´s legs), which is a delicious, very energetic sweet, filled with almond or hazelnut and typical of this city.
According to tradition, an authentic Meitschibei must be made with ingredients produced in Switzerland: hazelnuts or almonds, milk, butter, wheat flour, sugar (we already know that the Swiss are self-sufficient but in this case we assume that the sugar is imported and comes from tropical countries, as well as the cocoa, to make the famous Swiss chocolate). This sweet is sold in different sizes so we can choose the individual or family option to share ... or to eat alone. It is extremely tasty.
We can take it while walking or while taking in the landscape and it is also a memory to take home that will not take up space or get old, but whose taste we will always remember.
To experience Swiss tastes, we must accompany the Meitschibei with a Kafi Luz, the Swiss version of carajillo. In the 18th century, the consumption of spirits became so frequent that the authorities prohibited distillation and limited the consumption of alcohol, so the Swiss, who were not willing to deprive themselves of their brandy, masked it with coffee and water, giving room to the Kofi Luz: this coffee adulterated with pear or apple liqueur. It is served in a crystal glass and in different varieties evolved from the original concoction.
The combination of Meitschibei and Kafi Luz will give us enough energy to discover the entire city of Bern.Another Swiss specialty of Bernese creation is the famous Ovomaltine. It is a cocoa powder that is added to hot or cold milk. This composition based on malt extract was created in 1865 to fight malnutrition of the time. Later, in the family laboratory of the creators, the Wander family, other enriching ingredients were added, such as sugars and cocoa, and in 1904 it was marketed as an item for sale at pharmacies. It soon became popular and became a regular product, it was even the official drink of the 1932 Olympic Games.
Today we find it everywhere, surely you have seen it at your hotel breakfast. New varieties have been added to the original invention as an energy drink, such as muesli, chocolate bars, cookies, chocolates ... Ovomaltine does not contain alcohol and is recommended for all people, even for children. It can be bought in all grocery stores and supermarkets.
any of the many shops and cafes in the city center.
From farm to Fork….. or picnic
We can consider the Capital of Switzerland, as a rural city, where the life that is linked to the land shows its relevance in the vegetable, meat, fruit and flower market that is celebrated every Tuesday and Saturday in the streets near the Cathedral. The neighbors come to make their purchases from the small farmers who sell the products in this market. Take a leisurely stroll, analyzing the stalls, the merchants and the people who meet there. It is a time of conviviality with the residents of Bern.
And what can we buy? Doubt will assail you because everything is very appetizing in the Bern market, but our best recommendation is to buy a warm rosti for lunch and eat it in any garden or viewpoint in the city, for example, in the Munsterplattform that is detailed below. Accompany it with bread sold in bulk, and as the people of the Alps do, have cheese for dessert. Which cheese? Which variety to choose from? The ideal is a tiny piece of each, as its inhabitants do here, of course if we take into account the 450 varieties of cheese from this country, we withdraw our proposal to try a piece of each.
There are all kinds: cured, semi-cured, fresh and even blue cheese. The most famous are Emmental; Gruyere (which has no holes); Appenzeller; the Raclette that is taken for dinner, melted, accompanied by meat and bread but cold and taken in the traditional style is also delicious; Tomme, Formaggini ... varieties of Italian, French and German influence. In addition to buying cheese for your lunch, this product is a good option to take home and celebrate an authentic Swiss dinner. Buying cheese for a fondue is fun: we must ask the clerk for fondue for as many people as we want.
Then he will ask us which variety, he will also ask us which wine we are going to use to cook it, and which one we are going to drink. We will also need to know if we prefer softer or stronger tastes and thicker or more liquid textures, so the best we can do is to let the locals give us recommendations and enjoy the varieties that have been given to us. They can prepare it to take on a trip. Once at home, wait for a cold day to taste it. Fondue is a meal that rural people, shepherds, loggers, farmers, ski workers, skiers, and mountaineers eat in winter to warm up and get a good night´s sleep.
Münstergasse Street and adjacent to the Cathedral and Parliament
Photo with peace, harmony, and coexistence
We will find amazing ideas for photos in any corner of the city, but the photo that represents harmony, coexistence, union, understanding between languages ??and cultures, democracy, international neutrality and almost 200 years of peace is in the Parliament of Bern. The building was inaugurated in 1902. On the façade we find a commemorative sculpture of the goddess Helvetia, a symbol of independence and which inspires the official and protocol name of Switzerland: Helvetic Confederation. The Parliament Square is decorated with fountains that emanate directly from the ground, so we must be careful not to be surprised by the jets as Bern is never too hot. On the opposite side of the main façade, there is another monumental façade, whose grandeur can only be appreciated if we see it from afar.
We can access this entrance where there is a porch sheltered from the rain, in case we arrive in Bern on a bad weather day, and impressive views of the river, the Marzili river water pools, and the Alps. You can enter for free and normally without restrictions.When we are there, we must bear in mind that this building represents Swiss democracy, one of the oldest in the world, in a country that never recognized a king. In this building a model of direct democracy has been created and has been exported to other countries in the world.
Citizens, in addition to the right to vote, have the right to modify laws, including the constitution through the “Popular Initiative”, the “Optional Referendum”, which is the demand of the citizens to submit to a referendum the approval of a norm and the "Mandatory Referendum", which is the one that occurs every time there is any reform in the constitution or any proposal to take part in international organizations. Against this background, the Swiss go to the polls about 4 times a year. The right of citizen participation is assured, but the Swiss are so tired of going to the polls and being part of the electoral tribunals that participation normally barely exceeds 40 %.
Bundesplatz. Parliament Square.
Stores in Bern
As the guides already talked about the traditional monuments, in this tip we propose to visit secret places where tourists do not come: Walk along the main street of the old town, it is called Kramgasse, it is the street of the Clock Tower, look up to enjoy from the flags with the cantonal coats of arms, the baroque fountains, the sculptures on the buildings, the arcades ... the magnificence of Bern. Now look down and discover the sidewalks.
What are those doors on the ground? but there are many! Do I ring? Can I open to see what I find? Where do those steep stairs lead? Discover for yourself and enjoy the many curiosities you will find. These vaulted underground rooms were conceived as a cellar or storage room. Currently, most of them are restored and open to the public as shops, bars, coffee, theaters ... giving the usual commercial activity a great historical and romantic side. These are usually designer, antiques, or vintage fashion stores. Visiting it will immerse us in a different world from abroad.
Some wineries are connected, and others are the basements of the store of the bar above. This exclusive shopping center is completed with street galleries. From the XII century the streets of Bern began to be porticoed, giving room to the current six kilometers of galleries, one of the reasons that motivated its inclusion on the list of Unesco Heritage Sites. To promote commercial activity during normal bad weather, the markets were transformed into arcaded galleries, increasing the mobility of residents, consumption and economic activity. We do not know if this is may be the oldest shopping center in the world, but what we do know is that it is the most authentic and the most traditional one. We can consider it a cultural-commercial-artistic-social center.
Currently, the shops installed under the porticoes of the old quarter are art galleries, jewelers, designer furniture stores, designer fashion and typical Swiss products ... their windows are also a good reason to enjoy this walk.
start at Kramgasse and Gerechtigkeitsgasse
and let yourself go.
Yes, of course we dare to bathe in the Aare River... well, it depends on the time of the year and what the weather is like
The river Aar, green and transparent like emerald, is one of the protagonists of the daily life of the Bernese. Taking this into account, the city council and the canton have conditioned their margins so that all people who wish can bathe. Approximately every 500 meters there are stairs to enter and exit the water that runs clean, wild, and very cool as it comes from the nearby Alps. We must bathe in the areas equipped for this, for example, in the Marzili swimming pool area, which also gives us a beautiful view of the Parliament.
From the pedestrian walkway to the riverbank, we go down any ladder until we get into the water, we let ourselves be carried away by the flow and we go out the next ladder. Be careful to stay close to the shore and never go beyond the area indicated as “no bathing, danger”. We go back to get our things on foot as we see what the rest of the bathers do. We repeat as many times as we want, give us time for the body to endure, as we are not Swiss. In the pool area there are free changing rooms. You will soon realize that bathing in the Aare is not like bathing in any river, here we feel its strength, its power and its greatness ... we feel light, fragile, at the mercy of the flow, like the leaves that fall from the trees.
Freibad Marzili. Aarstrasse street along the river in the opposite direction to the current.
In other countries, the Cathedral would have been burned because of this
There are many interesting details in the Bern Minster: the tower, so characteristic of the city skyline, the sculptures of the eight foremen who helped build the church, the 15th century stained glass windows, a coat of arms of Bern among all the other small details from the vault of the choir; But the Cathedral of Bern shows us a detail that we rarely find in other cathedrals: the exceptional representation of the Last Judgment that adorns the iceberg of the main portico. More than an ornament, it should be understood as an expressive message.
Erhart Küng, an artist from Westphalia, sculpted this sandstone masterpiece in 1475. There are 294 polychrome sculptures -some freestanding, some in relief- in a refined late Gothic style: prophets, angels with trumpets, Jesus Christ as judge, martyrs and condemned souls that frightened believers with the day of the Last Judgment. But the exceptionality, the exclusivity, is that the central figure of this portico, an entity that judges who will go to hell and who will enter through the gates of heaven, is not a God, nor Jesus Christ, nor any divine representation. The key figure in this relieve is The Justice, well represented with her scales, her sword, and an overwhelming artistic and aesthetic quality.
Obviously, replacing God with Justice is not a contribution of Roman Catholicism, but an addition to the Protestant reform of 1528. At that time, the protesting current closed churches and convents, burned organs, bases, altars and church furniture. Catholic, but the reformers, also had to appreciate the greatness of this work because they left it intact, respected all its elements and magnified it by providing a new and precious piece: Justice.
Let us reflect on the message that this work has transmitted to the people who have passed through here for five centuries.
Let´s go inside the Cathedral, which is probably set with the music of the organ, lighted candles, flowers, tourists and faithful who come to soak up the historical, social and spiritual value of this wonderful enclave.
In the Cathedral square, observe the baroque fountain of Moses with the Tables of the Law, messenger of God and a key figure in Christian religions.
Münster Platz (Cathedral Square)
Along the water
For those travelers who get off the bus impatient to walk, we offer a walk along the water. 2.5 kilometers in 32 min according to digital applications, but we assure you that it will take at least an hour, because it is worth it, but also because there are hills.
Our suggestion goes through the main street -Kramgasse- the baroque fountains, the typical Bernese arcades, the shops. It travels 1 km of river with impressive views of the city and the cathedral on the south side, and passes through the Bear Pit and the Clock Tower, so depending on where our bus leaves us we will start the route in one of these last two points. We will see almost everything, now, control the time on this route that makes you really want to stop to take photos, to bathe, to look at the stores ...
Assuming you start at the Clock Tower, walk South to cross the Kirchen-feldbrücke bridge – pay attention to the impressive engineering work, the landscape and the history museum on the other side of the bridge. Observe the river, its perfect meander and the system of locks that regulates the flow as it passes through the city. At the end of the bridge, we arrive at Helvetia Platze, with a baroque fountain and the Bern History museum which would be ideal for another Harry Potter movie. Just after crossing the bridge, to the left, we find the Kunsthalle Bern, the Museum of Contemporary Art, which we skirt to take Englische Anlagen, where we walk with pleasure because the houses are worthy of admiration.
As it is the diplomatic quarter, most of the embassies are here. From this street there are several possible descents to the river, all obvious, the first 200 meters from Kunsthalle Bern, in a small square with a tree surrounded by a bank and the second one, 200 meters further. Go down though whichever you desire.
Once in the river, enjoy, get your feet wet, do not bathe right in this area as it is forbidden and everyone will see you from the front gardens, take photos, and walk in the direction of the water flow until you reach the Moat of the Bears, which can be identified by the bears that roam in their enclosure and by a steep staircase that we must climb (there is also an elevator).
-If your bus has left you in this area, this will be the starting point of the tour that you can do in any direction. Enjoy the sights, the bears, the life of the city. You can go to the free bathrooms of the brewery and visit the tourist office. Drink from the Brunnen Aargauerstalden fountain, the water is supposed to be good.From here, cross the bridge to return to the main street of the city and reach the Clock Tower.
This street is identifiable because it is the continuation of the bridge and where the tram passes. It is called Gerechtigkeitgaasse or Kramgasse depending on the section. Here, we will see a large part of the attractions of Bern that are detailed in these guides.Along the water, we cannot miss its impressive fountains of polychrome sculptures. Loaded with symbolism and expressiveness, they are the apotheosis of the Central European Baroque. We can spot the first one after crossing the bridge.
It is the fountain of justice, unmistakable for its sword and its balance. It represents the power of justice over the rulers and the political system. Nice allegory.The second, in which we see a man with a hat, represents a Vernner, who in the Middle Ages, was the person chosen in the city to ensure peace and security. It is located opposite the old town hall.Kreuzgassbrunnen is the third one, from the 18th century, in granite, it is not as beautiful as the others but, according to information from the municipality, its water is drinkable and is checked periodically.
The next one, of overwhelming expressive quality, depicts Sam
Sit Down, look, breath…
The best place to "perch" in the center of Bern is the Münsterplatte Gardens, next to the Cathedral. This is a meeting place for children who come to run around, adults who play petanque, couples who declare their love and intellectuals who read or create their works in this inspiring garden. The magic of the imposing Cathedral and the beauty of the landscape over the river, make this place a true a must see.
If we want to rest but the weather is bad enough to be outside, we can sit in the Da Kelli café-pizzeria, very close to the gardens, towards the Parliament. There we will find a similar environment and a pleasant and warm place surrounded by gardens and good views.
The Swiss have a well-deserved reputation for seriousness and dependability. They concentrate their work and functional activity on the days of the week and take the weekend off and recess. They live in harmony and immersion in its spectacular nature and they love to be outside even in winter, with temperatures below zero. When we visit these gardens on a Saturday, we will find them well set, and from there we will be able to see how other people walk along the riverbanks or even bathe. We can also appreciate the individualistic character linked to their formality: it is not normal to start a conversation with them, children usually play alone even though there are several and parents do not interact with each other. This is said to be motivated by the great value they attach to friendship, that is, they have all their attention focused on highly selected people and do not need anyone else. Private life is extremely respected, almost secret.
There are hardly any new friendships established among the Swiss at work, sports, or other activities. Striking a spontaneous conversation would be surprisingly and blatantly intrusive. As you imagine, the migrant population that arrives in Switzerland, which is too large to work for in international organizations and in the large companies established in this country because of the very beneficial fiscal conditions, they have a long way to go if they want to get integrated into society; in fact, it does not integrate and creates a parallel society. This distance from abroad is also shown in their laws, for example: the fact of being born in Switzerland does not grant nationality. To do this, you must be "old Swiss", that is, of Swiss descent, that is why 25 % of the population is foreign, because people with foreign backgrounds, even if they have lived in Switzerland for several generations, still do not consider themselves nationals.
There are numerous studies on the Swiss character and its relation to its very high standard of living. According to Forbes magazine, among the elite selection of the 10 cities with the best quality of life in the world are Zurich, Geneva and Basel.
Münsterplatte (Cathedral esplanade, on the right of the façade)
Free public toilets.
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