Federal Building (Bundeshaus)
Bundesplatz 3, 3003 Bern
Bundesplatz 3, 3003 Bern
The Swiss Parliament is located in the Parliament Building in Bern, which is considered the “heart” of Swiss democracy. Under its impressive dome, parliament sessions take place, and federal government and administrative offices are located in the west and east wings, respectively, in Switzerland. Bundesplatz, often known as Parliament Square, is an outdoor gathering spot used by people of all ages.
Designed by architect Hans Wilhelm Auer, the Bundeshaus was constructed between 1894 and 1902. The United Federal Assembly officially opened it for business on April 1, 1902.
The Parliament Building acts as a sort of crowning achievement between the Federal Building West (1852–1857) and the Federal Building East (1888–1892). This building is the last in the series and the crowning achievement of the “Federal Palace” construction. Nearly all of the components are made in Switzerland. They serve as a metaphor for Switzerland and showcase the country’s rich cultural and material variety.
For the first time in its more than a century of existence, the parliament building was renovated extensively between 2006 and 2008, including major renovations.
Between the two council chambers is a central, domed hall filled with countless symbolic images of Swiss history and the Swiss federal state.
The coat of arms of each canton is displayed in a radial pattern around the Swiss cross in the glass dome. The cantons’ diversity is a complement to the Confederation’s cohesion; the slogan “One for all, all for one” serves as a motto for Switzerland.
Next to it is the Jura canton coat of arms and the year the estate was established (1978). Symbolizing the four areas of the country and showcasing their primary economic items are four massive arched windows depicting scenes from the working life of the people.
Antonio Soldini, a former member of the National Council, designed the medallions atop the dome. They stand for the armed forces, academia, the law, and building and construction.
NATIONAL COUNCIL HALL
The National Council Chamber of Bundeshaus is decorated with a five-by-twelve-meter mural by Charles Giron depicting the Rütli meadow (the “cradle of the Confederation”) and the two myths in the background.
The Stauffacher and Wilhelm Tell are depicted as two seated individuals in the niches to the left and right of the mural, respectively.
The “Sage,” a female figure, is represented in the pediment above Giron’s picture, teaching a group of raptly listening children about the heroic exploits of their ancestors.
Around the outside of the hall is a frieze covered in the coats of arms of 59 different Swiss municipalities, neatly arranged by canton.
CHAMBER OF STATES
Three tall arched windows illuminate the Chamber of States, which is perched above the main entrance leading to the Bundesplatz.
Arcades on the side walls provide access to the hall, and the seating for spectators is located directly above them.
One of the models of Swiss parliamentary work, the Nidwaldner Landsgemeinde, can be seen via the painted arcades on the back wall of the hall (toward the dome hall). Albert Welti and his painter pal Wilhelm Balmer created this fresco.
Dates are marked on plaques in the arcades. Important anniversaries in Swiss constitutional history are celebrated.