Bern’s Old Town – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Highlights Bernese-Midlands

In 1983, Bern’s Old Town rightfully earned its place on the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage List. This recognition serves as a testament to the immeasurable value and unparalleled significance that this historical gem holds for humanity as a whole.

Bern old town

Bern old town with cathedral

Bern’s old town is a real gem that enchants visitors from all over the world with its rich history, architectural splendor and cultural heritage.

Old Town of Bern Zytglogge

Old Town of Bern Zytglogge

A stroll through the winding alleyways and past the picturesque squares of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is like a journey back in time.

Bern’s old town a world heritage site since 1983

In accordance with an international convention from 1972, UNESCO maintains a list of cultural and natural sites that are of outstanding importance at a global level. Following an application from Switzerland, the old town of Bern was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983.

Bern Minster

Bern Minster

Bern’s Old Town has been recognized for its exceptional features and cultural value. It is considered to be an outstanding example of a progressive and clear urban layout in which the basic structures have been respected and preserved over the centuries.

Bern’s old town shows remarkable architectural and urban continuity, reflecting the city’s historical heritage. It is a living testimony to the development and history of the city and conveys a rich cultural heritage that must be protected and preserved.

There are many important and historic buildings in the old town of Bern. Here are some of the most important:

  • The Federal Palace: the seat of the Swiss government and parliament. It is a symbol of Swiss democracy
  • Bern Minster: The imposing Gothic cathedral dominates the skyline of Bern. With its high tower, it offers an impressive view over the city
  • The Zytglogge: The clock tower is a medieval clock tower with an astronomical clock and a carillon. It is a landmark of Bern and attracts many visitors
  • The Käfigturm: another historic tower in the Old Town that once served as a prison. Today it houses a museum showing the history of Bern
  • The town hall: A magnificent building in late Gothic style that serves as the seat of the city government. It is known for its richly decorated facades and the town hall tower
  • The Nydeggkirche: a charming church on the banks of the River Aare, known for its Romanesque architecture and idyllic location
  • The Zähringer Bridge: A historic bridge over the River Aare, which is one of the oldest bridges in Switzerland and offers a picturesque view of the Old Town
Bern old town

Bern old town

Like every modern city, Bern has continuously developed over the centuries and adapted to the changing needs of its population. The requirements of the economy and living comfort in particular pose key challenges today, especially when it comes to adapting the building fabric and urban structure in line with heritage requirements.

To enjoy the best view of the old town, which is surrounded by the Aare, we recommend the elevated rose garden above the BärenPark or the platform of the imposing 101-metre-high cathedral tower. The former redoubts and bastions slope steeply down to the river, giving the town a special topography.

The old town is home to charming boutiques, bars and cabarets, some of which are located in the vaulted cellars, as well as cozy street cafés that attract both locals and tourists.

Although Bern has a well-developed public transport system, the city center is best explored on foot to fully appreciate all its beauty and charm.

Video Old Town Bern, Switzerland

Altstadt (Old City) is the medieval centre of Bern, the capital of Switzerland. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bern has impressive sandstone buildings, clock towers, churches, shopping arcades, and a large collection of Renaissance fountains.

Altstadt Bern, Switzerland

The video is embedded by YouTube and only loads when you click on the play button. Learn more: Privacy policy

Video World Heritage Sites in Switzerland: The Old Town of Bern

Welterbestätten in der Schweiz: Die Altstadt von Bern

The video is embedded by YouTube and only loads when you click on the play button. Learn more: Privacy policy