1848 – Bern’s birth as a federal city

The political epicentre of Switzerland: Although Bern is referred to informally as the “capital of Switzerland”, officially it has been a “federal city” since 1848. On this tour, participants will learn why that is and who was rather pessimistic about this decision.

When the country transitioned from being a confederation of states (alliance of independent, sovereign cantons without actual unity) to a federal state, the Swiss population disagreed about whether the country should have a capital, and if so, which city would have the honour. The discussion ended with a compromise. On 28 November 1848, the National Council and the Council of States elected the city of Bern as the federal seat of Switzerland, but it would be known officially as the “federal city” rather than the “capital city”.

Many visitors from abroad are surprised to find out that Bern is in fact the “capital” of Switzerland. It would appear much more logical for the business metropolis of Zurich or cosmopolitan Geneva to enjoy this status. Why was Bern able to assert itself in the end and become the political centre of Switzerland? During this tour, participants will find out the answers to these questions as well as other exciting facts about the federal city.

  • Private tour
    Available dates All year
    Meeting Tourist Information at Bern’s main train station
    Length of tour 90 minutes
    Price CHF 300.00 per group
    Languages German, English, French
    Number of participants Maximum 20 people per group
    Number of participants Maximum 20 people per group

    You can book a tour directly online, by telephone at +41 31 328 12 12 or by e-mail at citytours@bern.com.

  • City Tours Bern

    Bahnhofplatz 10a
    3011 Bern

    T +41 31 328 12 12


City tour

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