Bern : visiting the city
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Wandering through Bern’s UNESCO-protected Old Town can be a magical experience – few cities in the world are so visibly wedded to their distant past, with architecture and a street plan essentially unchanged since medieval times. The most hectic shopping goes on in the western half of the Old Town, on Marktgasse and Spitalgasse in particular; the older, eastern half is slow paced and tranquil. However, not for nothing does the tourist office tout the famous arcades, lining both sides of every street in the Old Town, as being “the longest covered shopping promenade in the world”. In a strange turnaround of expectations, it’s when you walk under the crowded arcades that you get a full-on blast of modern consumerism, with music, shop windows and advertising vying for your attention. Step a few metres to the side to walk in the open air and – with a little imagination – it’s easy to picture yourself in the Bern of the sixteenth century.

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