Teaching Students About Bern, Switzerland


As educators, we aim to familiarize our students with various cultures, places, and histories. One such location with a rich history and cultural significance is Bern, the enchanting capital city of Switzerland. Teaching students about Bern can expose them to an array of subjects, from politics and geography to art and history. This article will serve as a guide for educators planning an informative and engaging lesson on Bern, Switzerland.

City Profile

Begin by discussing the key facts about Bern: 

– It is the capital city of Switzerland and also serves as the de facto capital of the Swiss canton of Bern.

– Founded in 1191 by Duke Berchtold V von Zähringen

– Population: approximately 144,000 (2021)

– Official language: German; however, French, Italian, and Romansh are also spoken

– Home to several significant landmarks

– Part of UNESCO World Heritage Site

Political and Administrative Significance

As the capital city of Switzerland, Bern houses various political institutions:

– The Swiss Parliament (The Federal Assembly) 

– The Swiss Federal Council (executive branch)

Teach students about Switzerland’s unique political system where the seven-member Council represents a collective head of state.

Historic Landmarks

Introduce students to some notable landmarks in Bern:

Zytglogge – A medieval clock tower with astoundingly detailed astronomical clock.

Münster (Bern Cathedral) – A gothic-style cathedral with a distinctive towering spire.

Bärengraben (Bear Park) – Symbolic of Bern’s etymology (derived from “Bär,” meaning bear in German), this park is home to brown bears living near the river.

Cultural Sights

Expose students to important cultural sites like:

Paul Klee Centre – A museum dedicated to Swiss-German artist Paul Klee, showcasing more than 4,000 of his works.

Einsteinhaus – Located in Old Town, this museum was the residence of physicist Albert Einstein during his time in Bern and the place where he developed the theory of relativity.

Historical Events

Incorporate various historical events to spark your students’ interest:

– The Battle of Laupen (1339)

– The Swiss Reformation and Bern’s adoption of Protestantism

– Napoleon’s invasion in 1798

– Switzerland’s neutrality during both World Wars

Old Town: UNESCO World Heritage Site

Discuss Bern’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of medieval charm. Points to highlight are:

– Unique arcades covering 16th-century fountains and shops

– Intricate Renaissance facades

– Cobbled streets lined with sandstone buildings


Teaching students about Bern, Switzerland, can be an enriching experience that deepens their understanding of history, culture, and politics. It provides an opportunity to introduce them to one of Europe’s most picturesque cities while also familiarizing them with broader issues like Swiss neutrality and the nation’s unique political landscape. By incorporating engaging activities like virtual tours or creative projects emulating Swiss art styles, educators can ensure that their students not only learn about Bern, but also develop an appreciation for its myriad cultural and historical aspects.

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