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Bern Switzerland City Facts

Bern Switzerland is one of my favorite European cities because they have a wonderful museum there with postage stamps from Switzerland. Infact they claim to have one of the largest stamp collections of anywhere in the world with half a million items.



Here with more about the museums of Bern Switzerland. SOURCE



Most of Bern’s museums are clustered together around Helvetiaplatz, on the south side of the Kirchenfeldbrücke. Some, like the Bernisches Historisches Museum, shouldn’t really be missed; others have less going for them. Trams #3 (direction Saali) and #5 (direction Ostring) shuttle from the train station and the Zytglogge to Helvetiaplatz.

Bernisches Historisches Museum
You could spend a long time exploring the fascinating Bernisches Historisches Museum (Bernese Historical Museum; Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.5, free on Sat; SMP), a grandiose turreted castle purpose-built in 1894. With seven floors of diverse bits and pieces, it’s a good idea to pick up a floor plan before you start. Information is generally very good, with the scholarly German labelling nearly always given in English and French translation in leaflets kept in wall racks.

The ground floor is given over to temporary exhibitions, which tend not to have English explanations, and it’s worth heading straight down to the basement (taking in, if you’ve time, the extensive porcelain and silver collection on the lower mezzanine on the way). At the bottom, to the left side of the staircase, is perhaps the highlight of the whole museum, a collection of extraordinary and macabre paintings showing “The Dance of Death”; these are 1649 copies of originals painted in 1516–17 on the wall of Bern’s Dominican monastery and now lost. The sequence of 24 vivid images, showing a hideously grinning and fooling skeleton leading kings, prostitutes, nuns and lawyers alike to their inevitable fate, is enough to send a chill down your spine – as, no doubt, it was intended to. Equally impressive is the pillared room directly opposite, filled with the original sandstone figures from the Last Judgement portal of the Münster and fascinating for the chance to view their details up close. Through in another part of the basement are several rooms featuring rural and urban interiors from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reconstructed down to the chamber pots and creaky floors.

From the ground floor all the way up the main staircase is a series of rather unflattering portraits of 280 Swiss peasants and craftspeople in traditional dress, made late in the eighteenth century as a kind of ethnographic record. The mezzanine is devoted to a spectacular Islamic collection, with daggers galore, a mounted Turkestan warrior in full armour, jewellery, ceramics and a reconstructed Persian sitting room. Stairs to the first upper floor bring you to an intricate scale model of Bern in 1800 (made in 1850). Nearby in the same room, for some unknown reason, sits a bust of Brigitte Bardot. Halls left and right display extremely impressive wall-sized medieval Flemish tapestries; the Burgundian Hall holds the Caesar Tapestries, telling the story of Caesar’s life in Burgundian-style dress, and, highlight of the collection, the Thousand Flowers Tapestry, the only one surviving of a set of eight made in Brussels in 1466, which was looted by Bern during the Burgundian wars of 1474–77. Rooms further on with coins and medals include a mesmerising 1828 three-way portrait of Calvin, Luther and Zwingli. On the other side of the stairs is the Trajan Hall, with suits of armour, weapons, cavalry standards and heraldic tapestries galore.

The second upper floor features more military uniforms from different periods, and a series of overwhelmingly meticulous rooms devoted to “Changes in Daily Life”, covering everything from reconstructed shops and schoolrooms from different periods to ephemera, old vending machines and musical instruments. The top floor has a small archeological collection, and above is a belvedere offering bird’s-eye views of the Bundeshaus and the Alps.

Schweizerisches Alpines Museum
Beside the Historical Museum, the Schweizerisches Alpines Museum (Swiss Alpine Museum; May–Oct Mon 2–5pm, Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Nov–April Mon 2–5pm, Tues–Sun 10am–noon & 2–5pm; Fr.5; SMP) is surprisingly good, taking an intelligent, sensitive look at all aspects of life in the mountains, from tourism, the history of mountaineering and the social identity of mountain dwellers to surveys of Alpine flora and fauna and the impact of industry on the mountain environment. There’s plenty to play with and read up on (in English). Crowded all over the museum are dozens of examples of relief mapmaking gone berserk, with mountains, whole valley systems and complete Swiss ranges rendered in perfect scale detail, almost rock by rock, by enthusiasts whose energy and patience can only be imagined.Other museums
There are plenty of other museums on or very close to Helvetiaplatz. The porticoed Kunsthalle (Art Gallery; Helvetiaplatz 1; Tues 10am–9pm, Wed–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.6) has changing exhibits of contemporary art, usually of very high quality. Behind the Historisches Museum, the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History Museum; Bernastrasse 15; Mon 2–5pm, Tues, Thurs & Fri 9am–5pm, Wed 9am–8pm, Sat & Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.5; SMP) has the largest diorama exhibit in Europe – a somewhat fancy way to describe an array of stuffed animals behind glass, including a rather threadbare “Barry”, the famous St Bernard mountain-rescue dog. Its mineralogical displays are more engaging, with meteorites and cut diamonds, but they’re scant recompense for fighting the tide of schoolkids. The Museum für Kommunikation (Helvetiastrasse 16; Tues–Sun 10am–5pm; Fr.5; SMP) surveys media and communication from postage-stamps and early telephones to the Internet and beyond.

Bern Pic 2

Here are background details about living in Bern Switzerland. SOURCE


Automobiles of U.S. citizens entering Switzerland to establish a residence are free of duty provided evidence can be shown that the car has been in the applicant's possession and has been driven for at least six months. A tourist, whose permanent domicile is outside Switzerland, can temporarily import his motor vehicle without customs documents, provided it is for his own personal use. Automobiles of temporary residents may be imported duty-free upon application to the local customs authorities for duty-free customs plates. Such plates are valid for a maximum period of one year. Foreign plates may be kept on the car for one year provided that proper liability insurance is maintained on the car. After this period, Swiss plates must be obtained from the cantonal road traffic office (Strassenverkehrsamt/Service des automobiles).


Banks are open Monday through Friday from 08:00 - 18:00 in cities. In suburbs, towns, and villages banks close for lunch. Banks throughout Switzerland are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Swiss holidays. Change counters at airports and railway stations are usually open daily from 6:30 - 22:00.


Of the total population of 6,908.000 (last census end of 1992), 49 percent are Catholic, 48 percent Protestant, 0.4 percent Jewish, with the remaining percentage having various other religious affiliations or none. English language services are held regularly in some churches in large cities and tourist resorts.


Temperatures are about the same as in the northern United States, but without extremes of heat and cold. During the winter it frequently snows. In the cities the summer temperature rarely exceeds 80 Fahrenheit and the humidity is low. Winter temperatures vary between 20 and 30. The southern part of Switzerland has subtropical vegetation and a mild climate the year through.

Cost of Living

The general cost of living in Switzerland is higher than in the United States and is, at the time of writing, approximately 15 percent higher than that of Washington, DC (the difference varies in accordance with the respective inflation rates and fluctuation of currency exchange rates).


The monetary unit in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc. The rate of exchange varies but is usually between 1.60 and 1.79 Swiss Francs to the dollar. There are no restrictions with regard to import, export and exchange of Swiss Francs. Travelers checks and bank notes are exchanged by banks, official exchange offices at airports, principal Swiss railway stations, border stations and sometimes travel agencies. Personal checks are not normally cashed by Swiss banks.

Customs Duty

Persons entering Switzerland may import duty-free personal effects, sports equipment, tools and a limited amount of food. Every person aged 17 and over is entitled to enter Switzerland with 2 liters of wine, one liter of spirits, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 grams of pipe tobacco, as well as gifts up to a total value of 100 Swiss francs.
More detailed information may be obtained from the:

Swiss Federal Customs Administration
40 Monbijoustrasse
3003 Bern


The electric current used throughout Switzerland is 220 Volts, alternating current (AC), 50 cycles. Prongs for outlets differ from those in the United States. However, 110 Volt electrical equipment can be operated with the use of a transformer. Lamps are easily converted by using 220 Volt Swiss bulbs and changing of plugs, or by using inexpensive plug adapters.

Entrance Requirements

A valid U.S. passport but no visa is required of an American citizen entering Switzerland as a tourist for a period of three months maximum. Information on residence, student visas, etc. should be obtained from the

Swiss Embassy in Washington or one of the Swiss Consulates General located in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco.
Switzerland has no vaccination requirements.


The following are legal holidays observed throughout Switzerland:
New Year, St. Bartholomew
Good Friday
Easter Monday
Ascension Day
Pentecost Monday
Swiss National Day
Christmas Day and St.Stephen

Various other holidays may be observed by individual cantons. For a complete current list of American and Swiss holidays please check the Holiday List.


Like many other countries, Switzerland experiences a shortage of housing in most larger cities. Moderately-priced living quarters are usually difficult to find. Rents are higher than in most U.S. cities and vary according to location, neighborhood and type of building. Both houses and apartments are usually smaller than their U.S. counterparts and contain smaller rooms.

A furnished house is rare and very expensive: furnished apartments are seldom available. On the whole, it is easier to find an apartment in a suburb than in the downtown area of a city. Purchase of a house or apartment by foreigners is restrictively regulated in Switzerland.

Light fixtures, draperies and closets are an added expense, since these items are not included in Swiss apartments and houses when rented. Newer apartments may have a small deep freeze and dishwasher. Stoves are almost always furnished. Almost all also have washing machines, rarely dryers, and these must often be shared with other tenants. Hot water is not always unlimited, so check on your hot water supply.

Apartments and houses can be found either through advertisements in newspapers or through rental agencies. The following agencies can assist you in choosing the proper newspaper to advertise for vacant apartments throughout Switzerland:

8 Seilerstrasse
CH-3011 Bern
Tel. 031-384-1111
Fax 031-384-1330

Professionelle Personalberatung AG
Rennweg 42
CH-8001 Zurich
Tel. 01-211-7700
Fax 01-211-7718

Further information is available from local tourist offices and real estate agents. Also the official Swiss tourist offices below have a list of contacts:

Switzerland Tourism
Swiss Center
608 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10020
Tel. 212-757-5944
Fax 212-262-6116

Switzerland Tourism
150 N. Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60601
Tel. 312-630-5840
Fax 312-630-5848

Switzerland Tourism (Los Angeles)
222 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Suite 1570
El Segundo, CA 90245
Tel. 213-335-5985
and 213-335-5988
Fax 213-335-5982

Schweiz Tourismus
Toedistrasse 7
CH-8027 Zurich
Tel. 01-288-1111
Fax 01-288-1205


Of inestimable importance is a basic working knowledge of the language of the region in which you plan to work and/or reside. No one will expect you to speak the Swiss dialect, but a crash course in German, French or Italian or, once in the country, enrollment in one of the many language courses offered, will help you to feel more a part of the community in which you live.

The national languages of Switzerland are German (Central and Eastern Switzerland), French (Western Switzerland), Italian (Southern Switzerland) and Romansch (Southeastern Switzerland). German is spoken by 69 percent of the Swiss population, 20 percent speak French, 10 percent Italian and 1 percent Romansch.

English is spoken in most hotels, restaurants, shops, etc. in all larger cities and resort areas.

Legal Aid

Even though you are an American citizen, in Switzerland you are under its laws and jurisdiction, not those of the United States. Where American citizens are involved in private disputes (with foreign nationals or business enterprises) and the controversy cannot be settled amicably between them, the normal recourse is to the remedies provided by law of the appropriate jurisdiction. American diplomatic and consular officers may not act as attorney, agent or in a fiduciary capacity in private matters. The Embassy does, however, furnish a list of English-speaking attorneys. Only attorneys licensed to practice at the courts in Switzerland may officially represent a client.

List of Personal Records

While living overseas, it is generally a good idea to have important documents and/or records at hand in case of an emergency or an evacuation. It is suggested that you keep the following items easily available:

Signed and notarized general power of attorney executed by each spouse on behalf of the other spouse;

Joint checking account;

Current copy of will(s);

List of family members' Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, insurance policies, passport numbers along with the date of issuance;

Medical records, prescriptions needed by family members, immunization records and eyeglass prescriptions;

Up-to-date household inventory;

Prior tax year records and other records necessary for filing the current year;

List of credit card numbers (separate cards for each spouse is also a good idea);

Copies of birth and marriage certificates and passport biographical page;

Employment records, resumes, and letters of recommendation;

Children's school records;

List of doctors, dentists, lawyers and other professional providers or services;

Mortgage records, deeds, bonds, etc.;

Updated address books, both business and personal;

Travelers' checks, bank books, check books, cash - both local and U.S.;

List of assets and liabilities.

Medical Assistance

Excellent medical assistance is offered in all larger cities. Many physicians and dentists also received training in the United States. Emergency medical assistance may be obtained by calling number 144 from any phone anywhere in Switzerland.
There are no fixed fees for doctors and dentists. Customary charges for consultations at the office of an internist/ specialist are about SFr. 80.00, and for a professor up to about SFr. 120.00. Where dentists are concerned it is customary, after examination, to ask for an estimate for the work to be done.

Lists of English-speaking doctors, dentists and veterinarians for the Bern and Geneva areas are available at the Embassy.

Driving in Switzerland

You may drive in Switzerland with your valid U.S. license for up to one year after your arrival; then you must obtain a Swiss permit. Swiss licenses are only issued on the basis of valid U.S. licenses. Holders of expired U.S. licenses must take the Swiss driving test when applying for a Swiss license. The minimum age for driving or learning to drive is 18. Liability insurance on motor vehicles is compulsory in Switzerland and must be provided by a Swiss insurance company.

There are two kinds of gasoline in Switzerland, both unleaded
Premium gasoline ("Super Bleifrei").
Regular gasoline ("Bleifrei")
Diesel fuel is also available.
Prices average somewhat higher in mountain regions.

Gas stations are normally open from 08:00 to 22:00 but may close earlier on Sundays. U.S. gasoline credit cards are generally not accepted at European gas stations but most major credit cards are accepted.

Newspapers and Magazines

Swiss newspapers represent various political viewpoints and are published in the four language-areas of Switzerland. French, German, and Italian periodicals are available at local newsstands. The International Herald Tribune and international editions of Time, Life, and Newsweek are available at local newsstands or by subscription. Other U.S. and British magazines are also sold locally. Prices are somewhat higher than in the U.S. or the UK.


Dogs and cats brought into Switzerland from abroad will require a veterinary certificate stating that the animal has been vaccinated against rabies and is in good health. The pet must be vaccinated at least 30 days but not more than one year before being brought to Switzerland. The certificate is accepted in the following languages: English, French, German, Italian. Information on importing other kinds of pets can be obtained from the

Swiss Veterinary Office, 17 Thunstrasse, 3000 Bern 6.

A small duty charge for your pet is paid on arrival, and a dog license must be obtained upon reaching your final destination. Most veterinarians can sell you one. In some areas you must obtain your dog license from the local authorities. The fee varies, but is around SFr. 50.00.

Postal Service

"Die Post" is the federal postal company. Most post offices are open from 07:30/08:00 - 12:00 and from 13:30/14:30 - 18:00, Saturday 07:30/08:00 - 11:00.
Letters to or from the United States by international airmail usually take about 5 days. Surface mail takes approximately 20 days but may take as long as six weeks for parcel post. Airmail postcards and airmail letters weighing up to 20 grams cost SFr. 1.80 to mail to the United States; airmail letters from 20 grams to 50 grams SFr. 3.00.

Postal Check

The postal check is the most common method used to pay bills. This system allows you to pay bills through the post office by filling out green or white postal payment cards which are normally enclosed with your bills (electricity, phone, insurance, etc.). Holders of a postal check account can effect their, usually, monthly payments by mail; others go to the post office and make their payments at the appropriate counter.

Radio and TV

Swiss radio broadcasts in the three principal languages. Programming is of good quality with more talk programs than in the U.S. Broadcasts from other European countries - such as AFN Frankfurt, VOA Munich, Luxembourg, and BBC - are fairly good but reception varies. As in most of Europe, radio and TV are run by a public corporation. Broadcasting is in German, French and Italian. Special programs are sometimes relayed from the U.S. by satellite. News and sports coverage on both radio and TV is good. There are several private radio and TV stations as well. There is a radio and TV tax charged on your quarterly bill. It must be noted that the TV system is different in central Europe; American TV sets do not function satisfactorily on the Swiss system, nor can turntables without adjustment.


Swiss schools maintain high scholastic standards. There are boarding and day schools in Switzerland offering British and/or American schools, curriculum.
For more detailed information on particular schools, you may wish to write to the Swiss Federation of Private Schools (FSEP, Fédération Suisse des Écoles Privées/Verband Schweizerischer Privatschulen), Advisory Office, Christoffelgasse 3, CH-3011 Bern, tel. 031-328-4050 and fax 031-328-4045.

Publications on private schools, summer schools and camps, universities, children's homes and specialized schools are available from the Swiss National Tourist Office.


Quality is the byword in Switzerland. You may be sure that anything you buy will stand up, if you can afford it. Prices are rigid, no bargaining. Clothing is more expensive that in the United States, but there is a good selection. Shopping hours vary (Monday through Friday from 08:00 - 18:30; Saturdays from 08:00 - 16:00 is common in cities). In suburbs, towns, and villages, shops close for lunch. In some cities, stores close on Monday mornings. All stores are closed on Sundays and national and local holidays except for food stores in the larger train stations, which are in most cases open late at night as well.


Any person residing or working in Switzerland must pay tax at local, cantonal and federal levels. Since the tax structure varies from canton to canton, it is not possible to give a general estimate what various taxes may be.
There is a treaty between the United States and Switzerland to avoid double taxation on income, which means that taxes paid to Switzerland by a resident of this country must not necessarily be paid to the United States.
In general, an American employed in Switzerland can expect to pay at least as much tax to the various Swiss government levels as he would have to if he were paying tax in the United States. Specific inquiries can be directed to the local tax office or to the following federal authority:

Swiss Federal Tax Office
Section for International Fiscal Law and Double Taxation Matters
Eigerstrasse 65
CH-3003 Bern

An English language copy of the Swiss/American double taxation agreement can be obtained from the Swiss Government Printing Office:

Eidg. Drucksachen-und Materialzentrale
21 Fellerstrasse
CH-3003 Bern

Or from the Swiss Embassy in Washington, under "Bilateral Agreements."

Telephone Service

"Swisscom" is the semi-federal Telephone Company. The rate for a call to the United States is 0.12 Swiss francs per minute Monday-Friday, and 0.10 Swiss francs Saturday and Sunday. For calls made at hotels, substantial service charges may be levied. The telephone code for Switzerland to the United States is 001; from the United States to Switzerland it is 01141. There are also a number of private long distance carriers operating in Switzerland.


A service charge of 15 percent is included in the bill in Swiss hotels and restaurants, also in taxi fares and hairdressers prices. Additional tipping is allowed.


Switzerland's intercontinental airports of Zurich and Geneva can be reached in approximately 7 hours from the East Coast of North America.
The train and postal bus systems in Switzerland are excellent and reliable, as are local (in-city) transportation systems.

Bern Pic 3

Travel Information

Should you need information about countries that you are planning to visit, ACS can provide you with a copy of the State Department's current travel warnings and public announcements. The Embassy in Bern only receives information sheets for Europe; these can be requested in person or by mail. This information is easily available at no cost if you consult the Department of State's Consular Affairs Bureau website.

This site contains, among other information, the following:

all travel warnings and consular information sheets;

travel publications;

passport services and information;

foreign entry requirements;

customer service initiatives;
children's issues;

international judicial assistance

Also, if you wish, you can subscribe to an Internet service that provides State Department travel information free or charge. To do this, send an e-mail and write "subscribe" in the body of the e-mail message. To cancel the service, write e-mail again writing "unsubscribe" in the the body of the message.

U.S. Consular Availability

While it is not mandatory for U.S. citizens residing or visiting abroad to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy/consulate, it is advisable to do so in order that the consulate can better assist in cases of lost passports, serious illness, accidents, death, disappearance, etc. It is important and strongly recommended that persons report to their consulate or consular agency as soon as possible the birth, death or arrest of a U.S.

U.S. citizens residing abroad should not only have a valid U.S. passport, but they should also have in their possession several certified true copies of birth and marriage certificates, divorce or annulment decrees, etc. for use as the need may arise. See separate list of such items.



Welcome to the official website of Bern Tourism.  Succumb to the magic of Bern, capital of Switzerland and UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site. The diversity and unique beauty of the city are sure to delight you. We look forward to your visit!

Airwalkers and Cultural Summer in Bern's Old Town
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The final of this year's Swisspower Cup will be held on Bern's own mountain, the Gurten. Come and enjoy the spectacle on 27 and 28 August 2005. >>


Mahjong - Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection
From 12 June to 16 October 2005 the exposition Mahjong takes place in the Fine Art Museum Bern. >>


600th anniversary of the clock tower - 100th anniversary of the theory of relativity
Learn about interesting parallels between precise time measurement and Einstein's definition of time. >>


Einstein year: Pretty relative
Centenary of the Theory of Relativity. Major exhibitions at the Historisches Museum Bern. 16 June 2005 - 17 April 2006. >>




Airwalkers and Cultural Summer in Bern's Old Town
The name "Airwalkers" represents several events, which will be hold until 22 October 2005 >>

Swisspower Cup Bern
The final of this year's Swisspower Cup will be held on Bern's own mountain, the Gurten. Come and enjoy the spectacle on 27 and 28 August 2005. >>

Mahjong - Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection
From 12 June to 16 October 2005 the exposition Mahjong takes place in the Fine Art Museum Bern. >>

600th anniversary of the clock tower - 100th anniversary of the theory of relativity
Learn about interesting parallels between precise time measurement and Einstein's definition of time. >>

Einstein year: Pretty relative
Centenary of the Theory of Relativity. Major exhibitions at the Historisches Museum Bern. 16 June 2005 - 17 April 2006. >>

New BernCard
There is no less way to discover Bern. Free unlimited travel on the public transportation system in the City of Bern. Free admission to all museums of the Bern Museums Association. More attractions >>

2005/2006 Bern3: Bern flies high
Bern looks ahead, Bern pulsates. Three new highlights introducing accents on a cultural and sports level provide a perfect proof that this capital city is full of life. >>

Zentrum Paul Klee: Waves through Bern
Three waves for Bern - dedicated to one of the greatest 20th century artists. Just opened: 20 June 2005. >>




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