The Bernese Lowlands are a popular tourist destination because of the great variety of cities and rural areas across the Swiss Mittelland, the central, flatter area of the Swiss canton of Berne. One city in the Bernese Lowlands is Bern, which is the capital of the canton of Bern and also the capital of Switzerland. Bienne, Brienz, the Emmental and Thun are other cities in the Bernese Lowlands.
Bern is one of the top 10 cities in the world for quality of life, and its historic center, a beautifully preserved medieval city, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Albert Einstein lived in Bern and calculated his theory of relativity while working as a clerk at the Bern patent office. With around 122,000 people, Bern is the fourth largest Swiss city in terms of population. When Bern is considered collectively with 43 surrounding metro areas, the Bern agglomeration has a population of nearly 344,000. The canton of Bern is the second largest in terms of population.
Bern is a German-speaking city, the dialect being Bernese German, derived from Swiss German. The layout of modern Bern surrounds the medieval center of the city, which is one of the best places in the world to see how a medieval city was planned out. In this area is the famous Zytglogge, or time bell, which dates from medieval times and features moving puppets. You can also see a 15th century city hall and the Munster Cathedral, which also dates from the 15th century. One of the most fun things about the old town is six kilometers of covered shopping promenades, one of the longest shopping promenades in all Europe.
Biel in German, Bienne in French, this city is located on a language boundary and so is bilingual. In fact, when referring to the city, people often call it "Biel-Bienne." It is located at the foot of the Jura Mountains on the northeastern shore of Lake Biel. Biel-Bienne has a population of about 50,000, but the population that has coalesced in the cities surrounding it bring the population up to around 100,000.
Here German and French live harmoniously alongside each other in the heart of the watch making part of Switzerland. The center of the city is small, but beautiful and historic, with lovely fountains, guild halls, and a 15th century gothic church. On the shoreline of the lake you are near the Neuhaus and Schwab Museums, and the CentrePasquArt. You can easily reach the Jura Mountains by riding a funicular from Biel-Bienne.
Brienz is located in the Interlaken district of the canton of Bern. It is located on the northern bank of Lake Brienz at the foot of Brienzer Rothorn mountain. There is evidence that this area was settled as far back as the 7th century. The city of Brienz was first noted in 1146, when it was spelled "Briens." It became part of the canton of Bern in 1528.
The population of Brienz is almost 3,000, and almost 10% are foreign nationals. 92.9% speaks German, with 1.3% speaking French, and 1.3% speaking Albanian. The lake promenade, built during World War I, leads along the village to the lake shore and is very beautiful with spectacular flower beds and trees. You can ride a steam train, the Brienz Rothorn Bahn, up Brienzer Rothorn, and you can view the Giessbach waterfall by taking the Giessbach-Bahn, which is Europe's oldest funicular.
The Emmental is a region rather than a city. It is located in the valley of the Emme River which is devoted mostly to farming, and dairy farming in particular. Cities in the Emmental include Langnau and Burgdorf. Meadows and pastures dominate the landscape, with some forested areas throughout.
This area is famous for the original Emmental cheese, generally called "Swiss cheese" in Australia and the US. However, the designation "Swiss cheese" doesn't necessarily imply that it is from Emmental. In addition to its famous cheese, pottery and other ceramics have been highly regarde since the 17th century. The Emmental is a historical region in the history of the Mennonite religion. Here you'll find farmhouses with characteristic steep roofs with overhangs that reach almost to the ground.
Thun is a city of about 42,000 in the canton of Berne found where the River Aare flows from Lake Thun. It is abotu 30 km south of Bern. Thun has been inhabited since the Neolithic era, around the third millenium BC. "Thun" comes from the Celtic word Dunum, which means fortified city. Rome conquered it in 58 BC when they conquered pretty much all of Switzerland. At that time Thun became a main center of Roman administration.
In Thun you can see a 12th century castle with a history museum with much information about medieval armor and weapons. The town hall dates from the 16th century. With Lake Thun comes a view of the Alps: Stockhorn, Niederhorn, and Niesen. In addition to tourism, Thun is known for machine engineering, publishing, and the food industry.