AskDefine | Define Bern

Dictionary Definition

Bern n : the capital of Switzerland; located in western Switzerland [syn: Berne, capital of Switzerland]

User Contributed Dictionary



Supposedly named by its founder, Duke Berthold V, after a bear (German: Bär) he had killed there.


  • bû(r)n, , /b3:(r)n/ (English)
  • bârn, , /bE(r)n/ (local)
    Homophones: burn (for English pronunciation)
    Rhymes: ,

Alternative spellings

Proper noun

  1. The capital of Switzerland and of the canton of Bern.
  2. A canton of Switzerland.




Proper noun

  1. Bern



Proper noun

  1. Bern (city, canton)

Extensive Definition

The city of Berne or Bern ( [b̥ɛrn], lang-fr Berne [bɛʀn], lang-it Berna [ˈbɛrna], Romansh: Berna [ˈbɛrnə], Bernese German: Bärn [b̥æːrn]), is the Bundesstadt (federal city, de facto capital) of Switzerland and, with 128,041 people (agglomeration: 344,000), is the fourth most populous city in Switzerland (after Zürich, Geneva and Basel).
Most of Berne's residents speak German, or more specifically, Bernese German, which is a high-Alemannic dialect. The Canton of Berne has a French-speaking part. Very few people still speak the Mattenenglisch , a language game used in the former workers' quarter of Matte, but several words have found their way into Bernese German.
Berne also functions as the capital of the Canton of Berne, the second most populous of Switzerland's cantons.
Illustrious Bernese include the reformer Albrecht von Haller, the poet Albert Bitzius and the painters Hans Fries, Ferdinand Hodler and Paul Klee. The German-born physicist Albert Einstein worked out his theory of relativity while employed as a clerk at the Berne patent office. A culturally important person was Mani Matter, a songwriter performing in Bernese German.


Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen founded the city on the River Aare in 1191 and allegedly named it after a bear (Bär in German) he had killed. It was made an Imperial Free City by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1218 after Berthold died without an heir. In 1353 Berne joined the young Swiss Confederation, becoming a leading member of the new state. It invaded and conquered Aargau in 1415 and Vaud in 1536, as well as other smaller territories, thereby becoming the largest city-state north of the Alps. It was occupied by French troops in 1798 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when it was stripped of most of its territories. In 1831 the city became the capital of the Canton of Berne and in 1848 it additionally became the Swiss capital.
The city grew out towards the west of the boundaries of the peninsula formed by the river Aar. Initially, the Zytglogge tower marked the western boundary of the city from 1191 until 1256, when the Käfigturm took over this role until 1345, which, in turn, was then succeeded by the Christoffelturm (located close to today's train station) until 1622. During the time of the Thirty Years' War two new fortifications, the so-called big and small Schanze (entrenchment), were built to protect the whole area of the peninsula. The protection by these edifices was sufficient for the prosperous growth of the city of Berne up to the 19th century.
A number of congresses of the socialist First and Second Internationals were held in Berne, particularly during World War I when Switzerland was neutral. (See Berne International.)


Berne lies in the Swiss plateau part of the Canton of Berne, somewhat west of the center of Switzerland and 20 km north of the Alps. The landscape around Berne was formed by glaciers in the last ice age. The two mountains closest to Berne are the Gurten with a height of 858 meters and the Bantiger with a height of 947 meters. The site of the old observatory in Berne is the origin (600 000/200 000) of the CH1903 coordinate system, its international coordinates are .
The city was originally built on a mountain engulfed by the river Aar but outgrew the natural boundaries of the river in the 19th century. The following bridges were built to allow the city to grow outside of the boundaries imposed by the river:
The city is built on very uneven ground. There are several dozens of meters in height difference from the quarters down at the Aar (e.g. Matte, Marzili) to the higher ones (e.g. Kirchenfeld, Länggasse).


Berne is governed by an 80-member legislative council (Stadtrat) and a 5-member executive council (Gemeinderat).
As of 2005, the representatives of the Social Democratic Party and of the three Green parties hold a majority in both councils (3 to 2 and 43 to 37, respectively). For this reason, it is they, collectively referred to as "Red-Green-Center" (Rot-Grün-Mitte), who mostly determine City policy, although no formal coalition agreement exists and, under the system of direct democracy that prevails in Switzerland, most important issues are settled by general referendum. The other major political parties of Berne are the Free Democratic Party (FDP, free-market liberal) and the Swiss People's Party (SVP, nationalist, conservative).
The office of mayor (Stadtpräsident), as a primus inter pares (First among equals) in the executive council, is mostly representative. As of 2005, the mayor of Berne is Alexander Tschäppät of the Social Democrats.
see also List of mayors of Berne

Main sights

Berne's city center is largely medieval and has been recognised by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site. Perhaps its most famous sight is the Zytglogge, an elaborate medieval clock tower with moving puppets. It also has an impressive 15th century Gothic cathedral, the Münster, and a 15th century town hall. Thanks to 6 kilometers of arcades, the old town boasts one of the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe.
Since the 16th century, the city has had a bear pit (the Bärengraben), which can be visited off the far end of the Nydeggbrücke. The Federal Palace (Bundeshaus), dating from 1902, which houses the national parliament and part of the federal administration, can also be visited.
The football team BSC Young Boys is based in Berne at the Wankdorf.
SC Bern is the major ice hockey team of Berne who plays at the PostFinance Arena.


Berne has a University, a University of Applied Science and several vocational schools.
The University of Berne is spread over several buildings which are mainly located in the Länggasse quarter.
The University of Applied Science (Fachhochschule) is also located in Berne.


Berne is well connected to other cities by several highways (A1, A12, A6).
The public transport works well in Bern, with tram and bus lines which connect the different parts of the City. Bern Rail Station connects the City to the national and international train network. Notable is a funicular which leads from the Marzili quarter to the Bundeshaus. This funicular is, with a length of 106 m, the shortest public railway in Europe . Several bridges connect the old parts of the city with the newer quarters outside of the peninsula.
Berne is served by Berne Airport, located outside the city near the village of Belp. The regional airport, colloquially called Bern-Belp or Belpmoos, is connected to several Swiss and European cities.


Bern in Tosk Albanian: Bern
Bern in Amharic: ቤርን
Bern in Arabic: برن
Bern in Aragonese: Berna
Bern in Official Aramaic (700-300 BCE): ܒܪܢ
Bern in Franco-Provençal: Bèrna (vela)
Bern in Asturian: Berna
Bern in Azerbaijani: Bern
Bern in Belarusian: Горад Берн
Bern in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Бэрн
Bern in Tibetan: པོར་ནི
Bern in Bosnian: Bern
Bern in Breton: Bern
Bern in Bulgarian: Берн
Bern in Catalan: Berna
Bern in Chuvash: Берн
Bern in Czech: Bern
Bern in Danish: Bern
Bern in Pennsylvania German: Bann, Switzerland
Bern in German: Bern
Bern in Estonian: Bern
Bern in Modern Greek (1453-): Βέρνη
Bern in Spanish: Berna
Bern in Esperanto: Berno
Bern in Basque: Berna
Bern in Persian: برن
Bern in Faroese: Bern
Bern in French: Berne
Bern in Friulian: Berna
Bern in Scottish Gaelic: Berne
Bern in Galician: Berna - Bern
Bern in Korean: 베른
Bern in Armenian: Բեռն
Bern in Hindi: बर्न
Bern in Croatian: Bern
Bern in Ido: Bern
Bern in Indonesian: Bern
Bern in Icelandic: Bern
Bern in Italian: Berna
Bern in Hebrew: ברן
Bern in Georgian: ბერნი
Bern in Swahili (macrolanguage): Bern
Bern in Haitian: Bèn
Bern in Kurdish: Bern
Bern in Latin: Berna (urbs)
Bern in Latvian: Berne
Bern in Luxembourgish: Bern
Bern in Lithuanian: Bernas
Bern in Ligurian: Berna
Bern in Lombard: Berna
Bern in Hungarian: Bern
Bern in Marathi: बर्न
Bern in Dutch: Bern (stad)
Bern in Japanese: ベルン
Bern in Norwegian: Bern
Bern in Norwegian Nynorsk: Bern
Bern in Novial: Bern
Bern in Occitan (post 1500): Bèrna
Bern in Piemontese: Berna
Bern in Polish: Berno (miasto)
Bern in Portuguese: Berna
Bern in Romanian: Berna
Bern in Romansh: Berna
Bern in Quechua: Bern
Bern in Russian: Берн
Bern in Albanian: Berni
Bern in Sicilian: Berna
Bern in Simple English: Bern (city)
Bern in Slovak: Bern (mesto)
Bern in Slovenian: Bern
Bern in Serbian: Берн
Bern in Serbo-Croatian: Bern
Bern in Finnish: Bern
Bern in Swedish: Bern
Bern in Tagalog: Bern
Bern in Vietnamese: Bern
Bern in Tajik: Берн
Bern in Turkish: Bern (Şehir)
Bern in Ukrainian: Берн
Bern in Venetian: Berna
Bern in Volapük: Bern
Bern in Yiddish: בערן
Bern in Dimli: Bern
Bern in Chinese: 伯恩
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1