Bern is the political capital of Switzerland. Founded in 1191, Bern’s Old Town is an urban gem without equal. This is why it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. Bern has been Switzerland’s capital city – and the center of its political activity since 1848 and as such it is a truly unique city. Not only is it ideally located at the border between the German- and French-speaking parts of the country, but hardly any other city has its government within such close reach of the people. Switzerland practices a rare system of direct democracy.
The Parliament Building is situated in the center of Bern, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and isn’t shielded from the public as in other countries. It was built by Hans Wilhelm Auer and inaugurated in 1902.
Bern is also a city of superlatives: fairest flower city of Europe, birthplace of Einstein’s theory of relativity, cradle of the Toblerone chocolate and location of the biggest collection of the painter Paul Klee. The alleys and arcades (of 6kms) are typical features of the Bernese Old Town and form one of the longest covered shopping promenades of Europe.
About 170 countries have an ambassador accredited to the Swiss Federal Council. Half of these representatives have their headquarters in Bern and almost a quarter of them are located in Geneva, as their leaders are also heads of the Permanent Missions. Therefore, these individuals have a double accreditation to the Swiss Federal Council and to the UN.