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My short visit to Bern (or Berne for the francophone) did not do justice to this UNESCO World Heritage city. There are certainly more things to see that what my time permitted. An aerial view of Bern from air reveals much of its historical beauty – stone cobbled streets, sandstone buildings, marvelous monuments and ponderous architecture. Bern is nothing short of being a charming city and one may be surprised to find that the small city is the nation’s capital.

A short walk from the train station (Bahnhof-Platz) into the street of Spitalgasse, I came across the imposing Heiliggeistkirche (Church of the Holy Spirit), perhaps the finest model of Protestant church in Switzerland. Another few steps away brought me to the chic and trendy Bärenplatz with buzzing street café and vehicle-free zone. It was a busy day for restaurateurs in Bern because of the Euro 2000 football competition was being telecast live on TVs.

Also, close to Bärenplatz and slightly into Marktgasse lies the prominent Käfigturm (Prison Tower) with extraordinary masonry work and a “Swiss” clock at its spires. Probably here one would realize that such architecture truly reflects a genuine Swiss imagery.

Walking south from Bärenplatz into Bundesplatz brought me to the biggest attraction of Berne: the Bundeshaus (Federal Assembly building) or easily identified as the Swiss Parliament for the uninitiated tourists. One cannot help but notice the overall compound of this Assembly Building of Swiss Confederation is quite small, but the Renaissance-inspired building soon diverted me into further admiration.

I walked toward a cliff edge close to the Bundeshaus. A retaining wall there provided me with a spectacular view of the turquoise Aare River, cutting through the heart of the city. On a clear day, one could see the majestic snowy peaks of Berner Oberland from here.


 

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