Biel/Bienne is Switzerland’s largest bilingual town. German and French have equal rights here. This town is also the cradle of Swiss watchmaking.
Besides events of national and international significance, Biel offers a host of other cultural highlights as well. The and the are two important museums near the lake. In 2004, Biel was awarded the Wakker prize by the Swiss Heritage Society for its exemplary townscape protection.
Most visitors imagine Biel to be an industrial town, and they are surprised to find that it has a well-preserved medieval centre. This of town invites to go on a stroll through the charming alleys and along the picturesque squares and terraces with the pretty little shops.
In Biel, you will hear people converse in German and in French. In the largest bilingual city of Switzerland, all streets and official buildings are signposted in both languages. The mixture of German and French-speaking inhabitants makes Biel an especially charming place.
This bilingualism is a result of the watchmaking industry. In the middle of the 19th century, Biel became Switzerland’s most important watchmaking centre. The numerous watchmakers from the Jura who found work in Biel brought the French language with them. To this day, renowned brands such as Omega and Swatch are headquartered in Biel.
Good to know
- An intact old town with a beautiful town hall, gothic town church dating from the 15th century, various fountains and beautiful signposts.
- Pasquart – a very attractive art museum for contemporary sculpture, graphic art and photography; renovated in 2000 and extended with a new building designed by Basle architects Diener & Diener.
- The architecturally impressive Congress Centre offers excellent facilities for major international congresses, meetings and seminars.
- The city of Biel was awarded the Wakker Prize in 2004. The Wakker Prize is awarded by the Swiss Heritage Society to a political community in Switzerland for exemplary townscape protection.