Situated between the Bern City Theater and the Zytglogge (Clock Tower), the Kornhaus is a place of encounters, education, culture and gastronomy. Anyone who sits underneath the ornate arcades of this historic building sipping on a coffee and listening to the splashing of the Kindlifresserbrunnen (Ogre fountain) is whisked away immediately into the capital city’s rich past.
The 300-year history of this imposing sandstone building is extensive. It has functioned as a granary, wine cellar, military barrack, market hall, museum, refugee shelter, and finally a bar.
The Kornhaus Down Through the Ages
The cornerstone for the Kornhaus was laid in 1711, when it was still located on the outskirts of the city of Bern. Using plans drawn up by Hans Jakob Dünz, an impressive Baroque building was erected over seven years. The grain that was stored there served as extra provisions in case of a war or famine. These reserves also had an economic function. By controlling the volume of grain, the city could influence pricing and thus regulate the market. Furthermore, wages were paid in grain to many civil servants, part of which the government then collected as revenue by means of tithes and interest.
After the French army invaded Bern, the Kornhaus was utilized in various ways, and at the end of the 19th century extensive refurbishments changed the interior drastically. Larger windows, an imposing staircase and especially the murals by Rudolf Münger gave the building an entirely new look.
In the 1980s, the desire to turn the building into a place of cultural encounters grew and crystallized. In 1988, after a complete renovation, the opening of the “new” Kornhaus finally took place. A diverse cultural venue and meeting place was created featuring the City Theater’s Kornhaus Stage, the Kornhaus Library – a technical library for design – and the Forum for Media and Design. Two restaurants have since been added and are operated by the Bindella SA catering company.
The Kornhaus – “Highly Instagrammable”
The inimitable blend of High Baroque architecture and a stylish interior has turned the Kornhaus into a popular subject for photography. The harmonious balance between light, geometry and repetition highlights the clear lines and gives the space its unique character. The Kornhaus is definitely worth a sightseeing visit. How about a selfie on the grandiose staircase leading to the Kornhauskeller? And don’t forget to use the hashtag #ilovebern when sharing your photos on Instagram and Facebook.
Wining and Dining at the Kornhaus
Whether it’s brunch, typical Bernese specialties, fine wines or dishes with a Mediterranean flair, the two restaurants at the Kornhaus – the Kornhauskeller and the Kornhauscafé – offer something to suit everyone’s taste. A meal at either restaurant always includes a sophisticated ambiance, outstanding service and premium ingredients.
Kornhauskeller and the Galeriebar
The impressive backdrop of the spacious Kornhauskeller with its raised gallery including a lounge area and bar offers a one-of-a-kind ambiance. At midday and in the evening, the Kornhauskeller is perfect for indulging. Choose from select specialties including a creative house salad with pomegranate arils and quark dressing, lime risotto, and an authentic “Bärner-Platte” platter.
The right wine to accompany your meal can be selected from the onsite vinotheque. Enjoying a drink at the Galeriebar is the best way to finish off your evening in style. Find information about prices, the menu and reservations here.
Our tip for exclusive group events: Whether it’s wine tasting with the sommelier or a flavorful adventure with whiskey or port wine and Grand Cru chocolate, every team event held at the Kornhauskeller and adjoining bar is transformed into a unique experience. The different rooms and spaces at the Kornhaus can also be rented. Find more information about the Galeriebar, corporate activities and options for space rentals here.
The urbane Kornhauscafé is located on the ground floor – with a view of the lively Kornhausplatz (Granary Square). Light Mediterranean dishes, coffee, tea and pastry specialties from the café’s own bakery are available. Just in case you’re wondering, the hearty brunch buffet served at the Kornhauscafé on Sundays and public holidays is known around the city. Try the classic croissants and braided “Butterzopf” bread or go wild with antipasti, Prosecco and salmon – everything is included for 47 francs. Find more details about the exquisite brunch here.
At the Kornhaus Forum current topics such as social policy, local history and city development are given a platform. Issues regarding urban life are addressed during exhibitions, readings, lectures, concerts and podium discussions, and the audience is invited to join in the public debate. The dialog is carried out mainly through design, architecture and photography. Find more information here.
As part of the regional library association, the Kornhaus Library makes an enormous selection of media accessible to people in Bern. With everything from non-fiction literature and young adult novels to digital media, bookworms and those looking for information will find a wide variety of material here. The Technical Library for Design also provides numerous sources in the areas of architecture, design, photography, composition and fashion. Find all the information you need about the Kornhaus Library here.