Bern and its Christmas markets

Back in December, we decided to finally visit our new capital city, Bern – and also add another Christmas market to my list. We took advantage of another RailAway offer (I love that site!), which gave us money off the train ticket – I don’t remember how much – plus a voucher each for one Glühwein or tea from the Christmas market on Waisenplatz and a 5 CHF voucher for money off anything but Glühwein from one of the stands at the Christmas markets on Münsterplatz. There was nothing we wanted to buy at Münsterplatz, so we used our vouchers towards some food 😉

On arriving in Bern, we first walked to Bundesplatz to see the Bundeshaus, or Federal Palace – the place Switzerland is governed from.

In some of the photos above, you might have noticed cantonal coats of arms going around the top. Half cantons have to share a space. Here are the ones for Basel-Stadt (the black one) and Basel-Landschaft (ours! The red one):

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Basel staffs for Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land

Here’s a photo of the front of the Bundeshaus. The market is a normal one, not a Christmas one.

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Confoederatio Helvetica is Latin for the Swiss Federation and is where the country code CH for Switzerland comes from. So now you know 😉

According to a local legend, Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, who founded Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt. Said animal turned out to be a bear. Obviously this isn’t true, but the bear has been the heraldic animal of Bern since the 1220s and appears on the coat of arms. There are various bears all around the city, and even some real live ones in the Bärengraben (bear pit) at the eastern edge of the old town. We didn’t get to see any live ones though – the weather may have been incredibly mild for December, but bears’ body clocks aren’t affected by the temperature and they were all hibernating.

The balancing bear is my favourite 🙂

After a bit more wandering around, we eventually came to Waisenplatz and the first of the Christmas markets. Of course, we claimed our free Glühwein – who cares that it was far too warm for hot drinks? Free is free!

After drinking our Glühwein and looking at the Christmas market for a bit, we continued our wander through Bern. Our walk took us past the Rathaus (town hall), down to the river and the Bärengraben and finally to the Münster (cathedral)

Next to the Münster was the next Christmas market. We had a look round all the stalls before deciding it was about time for food. I had a hamburger with garlic sauce and Jan had a sausage. I didn’t really take any photos of the market, so the next few are mainly of the Cathedral and things on the square. We did also go inside, but no photos were allowed in there – even without the flash!

After eating, we had our Glühwein cups refilled – this time with white Glühwein -drank up, then continued walking round Bern. We were trying to find somewhere to eat that evening but everywhere was fully booked! Eventually we decided to head back to Basel and eat there, but not before passing by the Münsterplatz Christmas market again, where the lights above the archways were now on!

Bern was my 5th Christmas market that I’m willing to count towards the list (my “home” market doesn’t count!), and marked the achievement of that goal for my 35 before 35!

I’m linking this post up with Monday Escapes. Click the button to see where everyone else is virtually escaping to this week!

Packing my Suitcase
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19 thoughts on “Bern and its Christmas markets

  1. Oh my gosh! Wonderful! I adore that balancing bear and the story about how the town was named! Your steaming cup of hot chocolate/other hot beverage looks so inviting – whatever it actually is!

  2. Bern is a fantastic town! We didn’t get to see the bears last summer either when we were visiting. They were working on the enclosure so they’d moved them to a secret location. Ok, maybe it wasn’t a secret, but we didn’t know where they were. Nice photos!

  3. ahhh love all the photos! i would love to visit Bern one day, at christmas would just be perfect. so cool you could knock that one off your 35 before 35! the bears and the story behind them are really interesting!

  4. Bern is so pretty, I regret not visiting it while I lived in Geneva.
    I had no idea about the bear story, hahaha. I also loved the balancing bear, way too cute.
    About the meaning of CH I knew before because I was often curious about it while I lived there and made a little research haha

    Great photos! Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes

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