Bern's Old Town Arcades
SHOPPING IN SWITZERLAND'S CAPITOL
The Bernese love laid-back, hour-long shopping trips - and will do so in any weather. Thanks to the longest weather-protected stretch of shopping promenade in Europe, this is in fact quite feasible. The "Lauben," as the Bernese call their arcades, are admirably suited for a stroll in the historic city center.
It is in the Bernese Old Town in particular where the unique historical ambiance combines shopping with a journey through time into the past. The Kramgasse forms the centerpiece of the Bern Old Town. This alley was once Bern's busiest trade route for marketers and shopkeepers who loudly advertised and sold their goods here, and swapped the latest news. Almost 4 miles of arcades form a distinctive feature of the Old Town. The history of this arcade passage reaches back to the earliest city development (1191), and even then served to accommodate market stalls and businesses. Traders could thus trade and earn their living in any weather.
The Bernese also demonstrated their practical sense in putting their basements to good use. They built vaulted cellars under every house in order to be able to store their goods. Nowadays, entirely different treasures are hidden in these cellars. Descend the steep stone steps, and find yourself in a different world. The underground reveals trendy and traditional bars, clubs, theatres, cellar cinemas and special fashion shops.