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Old City of Berne

Old City of Berne

Founded in the 12th century on a hill site surrounded by the Aare River, Berne developed over the centuries in line with a an exceptionally coherent planning concept. The buildings in the Old City, dating from a variety of periods, include 15th-century arcades and 16th-century fountains. Most of the medieval town was restored in the 18th century but it has retained its original character.

Vieille ville de Berne

Fondée au XIIe siècle sur une colline ceinturée par l'Aare, Berne s'est développée selon un principe urbanistique exceptionnellement clair. Les bâtiments de la vieille ville, de diverses périodes, comprennent notamment des arcades du XVe siècle et des fontaines du XVIe siècle. La majeure partie de la ville médiévale a été rénovée au XVIIIe siècle mais a conservé son caractère original.

مدينة برن القديمة

نمت مدينة برن التي أبصرت النور في القرن الثاني عشر على تلة يزنّرها نهر الآر وفقاً لمبدأ مدني شديد الوضوح. فأبنية المدينة القديمة المرتقية الى مراحل مختلفة تتضمن بشكل خاص قناطر من القرن الخامس عشر وعيون من القرن السادس عشر. وقد خضعت هذه المدينة العائدة الى القرون الوسطى للتجديد بجزئها الأكبر في القرن الثامن عشر من دون أن تتخلى عن طابعها الفريد.

source: UNESCO/ERI

伯尔尼古城

伯尔尼古城于公元12世纪建在阿勒河环绕的山丘上,古城几百年来不断发展进步,但城市的规划理念却始终如一。 伯尔尼古城保留有15世纪典雅的拱形长廊和16世纪的喷泉等建筑,这些建筑的历史可追溯到各个不同的历史时期。这座中世纪城镇的主体建筑在18世纪重新修建,并保留了原来的历史风貌。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Старый город в Берне

Основанный в XII в. на холме в излучине реки Ааре, Берн развивался в течение столетий в соответствии с тщательно продуманной концепцией планировки. Постройки Старого города относятся к разным периодам: аркады - к XV в., фонтаны – к XVI в. Большая часть средневекового города была обновлена в XVIII в., однако Берну все же удалось сохранить свой изначальный облик.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Ciudad vieja de Berna

Fundada en el siglo XII, Berna se edificó en lo alto de una colina rodeada por el río Aar. Su crecimiento urbano a lo largo de los siglos se ajustó a una concepción de la planificación urbana excepcionalmente coherente. La ciudad vieja posee edificios de diferentes épocas y toda una serie de arcadas del siglo XV y fuentes del siglo XVI. La mayor parte de la ciudad medieval fue restaurada en el siglo XVIII, pero ha conservado sus características primigenias.

source: UNESCO/ERI

ベルン旧市街

source: NFUAJ

Oude stad van Bern

Bern werd in de 12e eeuw gebouwd op een heuvel omringd door de rivier de Aar. De stad heeft zich door de eeuwen heen ontwikkeld volgens een concept van uitzonderlijke en samenhangende planning. De gebouwen in de oude stad dateren uit verschillende periodes en bevatten 15e-eeuwse arcades en 16e-eeuwse fonteinen. Het grootste deel van de middeleeuwse stad werd in de 18e eeuw gerestaureerd, maar het heeft zijn oorspronkelijke karakter behouden. Bern biedt vandaag de dag een contrast van oude monumenten en moderne gebouwen. In bepaalde gebieden zijn nog steeds traditionele oude straatjes met arcades te vinden, het merendeel daarvan is wandelpromenade.

Source: unesco.nl

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OLD CITY OF BERNE © OUR PLACE
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis 

The Old City of Berne, federal city of Switzerland and capital of the canton of Berne, is located on the Swiss plateau between the Jura and the Alps. Founded in the 12th century according to an innovative foundation plan, and located on a hill surrounded by the River Aar, Berne has experienced an expansion in several stages since its foundation. This development remains visible in its urban structure, mainly tributary to the medieval establishment and its clearly defined elements: well-defined wide streets, used for the market, a regular division of built sections, subdivided into narrow and deep parcels, an advanced infrastructure for water transportation, impressive buildings for the most part dating from the 18th century mainly built from sandy limestone, with their system of arcades and the facades of the houses supported by arches. Public buildings for secular and religious authorities were always located at the periphery, a principle also respected in the 19th century during the construction of the large public monuments confirming the function of Berne as the federal city from 1848.

Berne developed along the lines of exceptionally coherent planning principles. The medieval establishment of Berne, reflecting the slow conquest of the site by urban extensions from the 12th to the 14th century, makes Berne an impressive example of the High Middle Ages with regard to the foundation of a city, figuring in the European arena among the most significant of urban planning creations. The features of Berne were modified to reflect the modern era: in the 16th century, picturesque fountains were introduced to the city and restoration work was carried out on the towers and walls and the cathedral was completed. In the 17th century, many patrician houses were built of sandy limestone, and towards the end of the 18th century, a large part of the constructed zones underwent transformation. However, this continual modernization, right through to the present day, was carried out observing the need to conserve the medieval urban structure of the city. The Old City of Berne is a unique example demonstrating a constant renewal of the built substance while respecting the original urban planning concept, and presenting a variation of the late Baroque on a theme of High Middle Ages. 

Criterion (iii): The Old City of Berne is a positive example of a city that has conserved its medieval urban structure whilst responding, over time, to the increasingly complex functions of a capital city of a modern State.

Integrity

The property comprises all the urban historical structures, with all the stages of its development from the 12th century to the 14th century, including the developments of the 19th century such as the well-preserved bridges and large public monuments. It therefore retains all the requisite elements to express its Outstanding Universal Value.

Authenticity

Although during the first decades of the 20th century, the safeguarding of the Old City was specifically concentrated on the appearance of the buildings (facades, roofs), the large majority of the historic buildings representing diverse periods have retained their interior structures, and the overall medieval plan has remained intact. The city today demonstrates a good state of conservation of the buildings and a very dynamic and contemporary urban activity.

Protection and management requirements

The property benefits from special legislation since 1908, which has been amended several times since then, and which clearly details the safeguarding of the urban landscape, strictly regulating any possible interventions. Development pressure involving potentially inappropriate transformations is controlled by this legal mechanism.

The management of the property is ensured by an administrative system that involves the authorities at all State levels according to their legal competences. The specialised service of the city for historic monuments is responsible for the conservation of the built heritage, in the strict sense, while other city and cantonal services ensure the more extensive urban management (planning and land use, public and private transportation regulations, security, arrangements and structures for risk management, notably as regards natural and environmental catastrophes, etc.). As a living urban centre, the site has the capacity to welcome a large number of visitors. There are two visitor information centres as well as numerous specialised offers. In accordance with sovereign democratic rights, the local population is called upon to vote on eventual changes to legal texts, as well as on investment and major urban projects. The non-governmental organizations have a right to challenge administrative decisions.

The long-term challenges include the maximum conservation of the original substance whilst taking into account the living character as an inhabited centre, place of work and commerce, as well as the strict control of the immediate boundaries, notably the slopes towards the Aar. 

Long Description

Built on a rocky promontory which fits tightly into a loop of the Aar River, the old city of Berne still retains the imprint and original character of the successive periods of its very rich history in its plan and its monuments. It was founded, on a hill site surrounded by the Aar, by Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen (most likely in 1191): on Kramgasse there is the first of Berne's many ornamented fountains, an armoured bear holding the standard of the city's founder, dating from 1535. The original core was established around Fort Nydegg, seat of ducal power; but, when Berne became a free city in 1218, it expanded to the west towards the Zeitglochenturm (restored in 1771). A new stage in its urban expansion coincided with the protectorate of Peter II of Savoy (1255-65) when the city extended to the Käfigturm (rebuilt in 1643); some years later Fort Nydegg was destroyed and a lower quarter built up on its site. A bridge was built to give access to this quarter. The final urban expansion of the medieval period took place in the 14th century. It is marked by the Christoffel tower.

The gradual conquest of the site is still evident in the parcelling, largely a result of the medieval implantation. However, the physiognomy of Berne has been modified by additions and developed over the centuries in line with an exceptionally coherent planning concept right up to the modern period. The buildings in the Old City, dating from a variety of periods, include 15th-century arcades and 16th-century picturesque fountains, as well as towers and walls. The cathedral was constructed during the 17th century, when many patrician houses were built from sandy limestone; towards the end of the 18th century, almost 80% of the constructed zones were renewed. Like many European capitals, Berne today offers a contrast (particularly acute on the Bubenbergplatz) of old monuments and contemporary buildings; but it preserves in localized areas, traditional old streets with arcades of which the majority are walking streets.

The three quietest and most characteristic streets in the Old Town - Postgasse, Gerechtigkeitsgasse and Jünkerngasse - all meet at the Nydeggbrücke, the easternmost point of Berne's peninsula and the location of Nydegg Castle, built probably before the 1191 founding of Berne and the spur to the city's construction. It was destroyed in the mid-13th century and its location is now marked by the Nydeggkirche, although parts of its massive stone foundations survive here and there. The church is a mishmash of elements added to an original 1341 building, with a well which originally stood within the precincts of the 12th-century castle and a picturesque view of the medieval houses clustering on the slopes all around.

The impressively wide main cobbled thoroughfare of the old town stretches away on both sides of the Zytglogge: Marktgasse is to the west, while elegant Kramgasse runs east and features many Baroque facades stuck on to the medieval arcaded buildings early in the eighteenth century. There is the Einstein House, the apartment and workplace of the famous scientist, who developed his theory of relativity in 1905.

Rathausplatz is dominated by the double-staircased Rathaus. Although the building dates from 1406-17, it has been much altered over the centuries - not least in 1939-42, when the ground floor was entirely rebuilt. Opposite is a 1542 fountain sporting a Bernese standard-bearer in full armour. Next to the Rathaus is the St Peter und St Paul-Kirche, built in 1858 as the first Catholic parish church to go up in the city since the Reformation.

In Läuferplatz the fountain-statue of the city herald standing at the head of the low Untertorbrücke, one of the oldest bridges in Switzerland (1468). To the south-west, Gerberngasse follows the bend of the river down into one of the most appealing districts of the Old Town, Matte. For many centuries this was a self-contained district of craftspeople and dockworkers which long retained its own dialect, related to the Jenisch language of the Swiss gypsies and dubbed Mattenenglisch by the other Bernese, an incomprehensible language spoken in a meadow (Matte). Since 1848, large public monuments have been built which underscore the function of the capital of Berne: the Bundeshaus, Museum of Fine Arts, Historical Museum, University, Municipal Theatre, etc.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC