Switzerland // The Swiss heartland //

The Bärengraben

At the eastern end of Bern’s centre, the Nydeggbrücke crosses the river to the Bärengraben, the city’s famed bear pits, which held generations of morose shaggies from the early sixteenth century to 2009. The new Bear Park (open access), sloping down to the river, houses four bears in far better conditions than before. Legend has it that the town’s founder, Berchtold V of Zähringen, named Bern after killing one of the beasts during a hunt.