Now recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, Bern's City Centre consists of numerous medieval buildings with most dating back as far as the 15th century. The medieval city was founded by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen. Following his death in 1218, the city was made a free imperial city by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II. Joining with the Swiss Confederacy in 1353 allowed the city to become the largest city-state north of the Alps by the 18th century, as well as one of the "eight cantons" during the reformative period of 1353 to 1481. Following French occupation in 1798, the city lost several parts of its territories and in 1814, the congress of Vienna allowed Bern to once again become the largest canton in the Swiss Confederacy.
Location: On the Swiss Plateau, North of the Bernese Alps
Located a little to the west of the center of Switzerland, the city's countryside was formed during the most recent ice age by glaciers. The city itself was originally built on a peninsula surrounded by the Aare River. A rapid growing population resulted in several bridges built to allow for the growth of the city beyond the banks of the Aare.
Business: Health Care, Retail Sales, and Transportation of Goods
More that 85 percent of employment in this city belongs to the service industry, with leading jobs in health care and retail. While most workers use public transportation to get to work, about twenty percent use a private vehicle. Roughly 94,000 people made a commute into the city to work in the year 2000. The focus of the local economy lies on city tourism and administration, as well as on public transport services. Furthermore, the famous Toblerone chocolate is produced in Bern-Brünnen by Kraft Foods.
Culture: Historical Sites Show an Expansive History
Over 114 historical sites have been marked as Swiss Heritage Sites of National Importance. Some of the sites include the entire Old Town, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Zytglogge and Käfigturm Towers, which mar two successive expansions of the city, as well as one of the largest Swiss Reformed churches in Switzerland, the Holy Ghost Church. Other sites include the Swiss National Library, the Swiss Federal Mint, several museums, and eleven 16th century fountains located within the Old Town.
Activities: Events, shopping, and extensive history
With numerous historical sites located within the city, tours and museums abound. Bern is also home to numerous theaters and several dozen cinemas. Other activities include two annual film festivals, a summer and winter festival, and fairs. Shopping within the Old Town district is always an option as well as exploring the beautiful countryside.