When the Bernese coat of arms is hoisted on Town Hall, we know that on the inside, the politicians are in session. The cantonal parliament meets for sessions at the “Parliament Building’s younger brother” four times a year. The governing council, consisting of seven members, meets every week to decide on various political issues.
Important media conferences are also held in the rooms of the late-Gothic building from the 15th century. Cantonal and inter-cantonal committees regularly hold their meetings at Town Hall because it is ideally located, near the lower part of the Old City.
Over 600 years ago, Bern initiated an important project: building a new Town Hall. Not because the old political centre was damaged in the Great Fire of Bern, but because Bern was a rising political star on the Swiss plateau. The City Council wanted more space and comfort to receive foreign guests.
After ten years of construction, an architecturally impressive representative building was ready for the politicians of the Small and the Grand Council and the administration department. New and changing requirements led to some architectural changes over the years.
For several centuries, Town Hall was not only used for politics: the archive, the treasury, the mint and the country’s printing press were also located in Town Hall. The last time it was remodelled, in the 1940s, the historical columned hall in the basement was exposed and the building regained its medieval character.
By the way: a highlight of that time was the state visit of British prime minister Winston Churchill, who spoke to the people of Bern from the top of Town Hall’s prominent front steps.
How to get there
Be it to sit in on a public session, go on a tour or just admire the building: visiting Town Hall is always worth it. It is in a central location and easily accessible by public transportation. Simply take bus no. 12 in the direction of Zentrum Paul Klee and get off at the stop called “Rathaus” (Town Hall). The city of Bern also has many short-term parking spots and car parks, such as the large “Rathaus Parking” which is always open and is located right by Town Hall.