Appy days for Bern

August 29, 2014, No comments

baernischesoIt’s all ‘appening in Bern right now: a new city app and an old city view. The new free app was launched last week by the Burgergemeinde, who financed and initiated the whole project. It takes the form of a virtual city tour, with local ‘celebrities’ as the guides, showing you their favourite places around the city. I say ‘celebrities’ in the broadest sense, because I am one of the guides!

The app is also in website form, so you can read my selection of places here, from the best ice cream to the former city cemetery, alongside all the tips from others – though the rest are in German. Mine are in English (they wanted a bit of foreign colour!), as are my three little audio podcasts:

Best of all, the app features really useful interactive maps, covering such things as where to find a public toilet in Bern and where to find Wifi (or WLAN as it is called here very often), plus the usual sights and restaurants. But remember that just because they are on the map doesn’t mean they are free.

The free app can be downloaded via the website, for iTunes or Android.

To celebrate the app’s arrival, the Burgergemeinde has two special events for the public. First is the panorama photo of the city in 1894, taken from the top of the cathedral tower. That is on display in the giant cube that has appeared in the Bundesplatz, and it’s completely fascinating to see the city before the high-rises and motorways changed the landscape. The Kirchenfeld quarter is little more than the History Museum and a few villas, with empty streets laid out through the open fields.

The panorama cube is open every day until 11 September, with showings every 15 minutes (Thu-Sat 10am to 10pm, Sun to Wed, 10am to 8pm) and is free. The commentary from the comedian Massimo Rocchi is in German, but the photo is for everyone. If you can’t make it to Bern in time, then you can explore the old and new panorama photos here.

Second, many of the buildings belonging to the Burgergemeinde will be open to the public on Saturday 30 August. Go behind the scenes at the concert theatre or the Burgerbibliothek, or just admire some of the elaborate interiors of the old guildhouses. All free, though there are bound to be queues.

Now’s the perfect time to explore Switzerland’s capital, either virtually or in person.

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