Wandering through Bern’s venues: Restaurant «Zum Äusseren Stand»
City guide Bea Gyger knows how to make you experience Bern’s arcades in a wholly new way – beautiful as ever, but even more interesting. She takes us on a wonderful journey through time, explaining how the restaurant «Zum Äusseren Stand» got its name and how much history hides in the magnificent premises behind Bern’s typical sandstone façades.
«Bea Gyger’s laugh is infectious», is our first thought on the sunny Wednesday morning when we meet her for a coffee and croissant in her favourite café «Volver». «I love taking a morning stroll through the arcades. There’s an honest mood in the air, a spirit of optimism. Businesses are receiving their goods; the streets are filled with delivery trucks and the alleys are being thoroughly cleaned. I’ve been living in the lower old town for many years, and for me that is a part of Bern as well.»
Despite the pleasant morning atmosphere in the sunlit café, we set off and walk to the restaurant «Zum Äusseren Stand» – only 5 minutes on foot from «Volver» in the lower old town. When we ask her why she became a city guide, she responds: «My husband saw a job advertisement at Bern Welcome and immediately said: ‘That’s perfect for you.’ And even though I never really liked speaking in front of people, he was right. I still get nervous after many years as a city guide, but afterwards I feel happy and fulfilled. I still get that adrenaline rush, so, if I have a headache before a tour, it’s usually gone after 5 minutes. Giving a city tour is exciting. For example, keeping people interested is much more difficult in the rain than in the sunshine. A city guide also needs to be able to ignore their own mental or physical state from time to time. I really like that even after all these years I keep learning new things about my hometown. There’s always something new to tell. Visitors that book a city tour with us don’t just want to hear hard facts about Bern. They could just read those in a travel guide. They want a peak behind the façade, they want to be entertained. I show people where I go to the market on Saturdays, take them on my shortcuts through the narrow alleyways and I point out the cafés where Bernese people get their coffees in the morning, and why there of all places. I tell anecdotes and give insider tips. I can show them how much I love and know Bern. That’s what the guests want.»
Once we get to the «Äussere Stand» we discover that the breath-taking Empire Hall on the upper floor is rightly said to be the most beautiful baroque hall in Switzerland. It is the perfect setting for events of all kinds. It is centrally located, near the Stadttheater Bern and directly opposite the French church.
Recently, the aarestadt gastro has taken over the lease of the business in the beautiful house at the Zeughausgasse 17 and now runs the restaurant under a brand-new brasserie concept. Paul Jurt’s cuisine is fresh, modern, and high-quality but still comprehensible for everybody. The newly installed bar creates an easy-going and informal atmosphere – the ideal place to get together, chat and relax. The terrace, which is also new, is perfect to let the sun warm your face while you enjoy your aperitif.
Bea’s eyes light up when she enters the magnificent Empire Hall with its ornately patterned turquoise wallpaper: «The former ‘Rathaus zum Äusseren Stand’ used to be the meeting place for the young people of Bernburg back in 1798. Here, the ‘Youth Parliament’ was playing at being a shadow state and making fun of the authorities of the Republic of Bern (‘Innerer Stand’, i.e. ‘Inner Circle’).» In the Hof-Café in the restaurant’s inner courtyard, we discover a mural of a monkey sitting on a crab, holding up a mirror to itself. «This symbol also used to adorn the club logo of the young people of Bernburg. About 50 years later – on 12 September 1848 – the Swiss Federal Constitution was signed in the Empire Hall. It was the starting signal for the establishment of a state with democratic structures – the very first in Europe. For ten years, the newly formed Council of States was holding its session in the ‘Äussere Stand’ (‘Outer Circle’). It was only in 1858 that both chambers of parliament started meeting together under the roof of a new building. Even today, this room is a popular meeting place for political associations and can also be rented for events.» The atmosphere in the hall is impressive – almost as if it were palpable that Swiss history was written here.
Did you know that the Federal Constitution will celebrate it’s 175th anniversary this year? At the «Offene Bundesmeile» («Open Federal Mile») from 1-2 July 2023, the public will get the chance to take a look behind the façades of various federal buildings such as the National Bank, the Parliament, the Erlacherhof or the «Äussere Stand».
More Information on the «Offenen Bundesmeile» here