Switzerland, located in Central Europe, bordering France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein, offers an image on a smaller scale, of the old continent, by the mix of cultural influences, by the diverse landscape and the aspects which define the civilization. Four official languages are recognized here, thing which doesnt happen in any other country: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Switzerland is as a surface, a small country of 41,285 square kilometers, with a population of over 7.5 million inhabitants. From the administrative point of view, it consists of 26 cantons and is a federal state whose constitution, in its fundamental data, is almost unchanged from 1848.
For those who choose Switzerland as a holiday destination, the touristic offers are endless. In the central part, the most spectacular area is the one of the Swiss Alps, where the maximum altitude is 4634m, in Dufourspitze Peak. In the winter time, this region attracts numerous ski amateurs, although also popular are other sports such as ice hockey or, depending on the season, football, target shooting, tennis, etc. Moreover, in Switzerland are located the most important international football associations: UEFA, FIFA, International Olympic Committee and so on. In the south, towards the border with Italy, the alpine landscape takes over the Mediterranean one, with a milder climate during the entire year.
Bern is the capital of Switzerland and, although is not the largest city in the country, it is considered the most beautiful and picturesque, by its medieval architecture preserved with care by inhabitants, and by the impressive image of the Alps in the background (being located at only 30 km towards north). Especially the center of the town (which entered in the UNESCO patrimony) is amazing, situated on a peninsula of the Aare River, with the Marktgasse Square, with narrow streets with a length of six kilometers (where car access is forbidden) with museums, cafes and shops decorated in old buildings. The Clock Tower (Zeitglockenturm) is emblematic for the passion of the Swiss for mechanisms. Originally built of wood (1218-1220), the tower was rebuilt several times, and in 1530 here was installed a clock and, below it, another mechanism decorated with some figures (a rooster, some bears, a buffoon or an hourglass). It rotates for four minutes before the exact time is announced and also indicates the exact time and position of the Sun, moon phases and the day. Amazingly, all work perfectly, since they were installed until today.
The capital of Switzerland is unmistakable by its numerous statues, architectural ornaments or blazons. Moreover, in the east part of the old city of over a century and a half, there is the "Bear Pit" (today, part of the zoo), a place for the care and growth of these animals, although it seems that their number decreased drastically.
In Bern you should also visit the Munster Cathedral (built in Gothic style), Kindlifresserbrunnen ("Ogre Fountain"), Natural History Museum, Museum of Art, Alpine Museum, Einstein Memorial House, the seat of Parliament etc.
Zurich, situated in the north part of Switzerland, at an altitude of 408 m (in a former glacial valley) is perhaps the most cosmopolitan city of this country, being the financial, economic, scientific and artistic capital of Switzerland. Big names of European culture passed through here the writers Herman Hesse, James Joyce, Thomas Mann, etc. By the early twentieth century, the avant-garde novel writer, Tristan Tzara, founded a literary movement here the Dadaism which influenced all the European culture throughout the last century. The stained glass windows of the Fraumnster Church stained glass windows were made by two great artists: Augusto Giacometti and Marc Shagal. In the St. Peter Church is a clock with a diameter of nine meters, the largest one in the world.
The contemporary Zurich offers other ways of having fun for the tourists: an annual festival of techno music (held without interruption since 1992), a popular shooting contest for young people (each year, in September), Zurifascht (every three year) which is a popular celebration that lasts three days and brings over 3 million tourists.
Geneva is the second largest financial center of the country, after Zurich. Here are housed 22 international organizations and over 250 non-governmental organizations such as United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) etc., Geneva and New York (USA) being the first two major centers in the world for international cooperation.
The tourists that arrive in Geneva will not bypass the spectacular "Water Jet", of 140 meters, the bloom clock, the United Nations Palace, an underground museum that illustrates the evolution of Christianity on the territory of Switzerland.
Other tourist destinations include: Lausanne in the western Switzerland (on the lakeside of the Leman Lake), an important academic and cultural center renowned by the Notre-Dame de Lausanne Protestant Cathedral (Gothic style), the Rumine Palace and the Botanical Garden. Also, Davos is situated on the lakeside of the lake with the same name and this is the largest mountain resort in Switzerland. Zermatt, a town in the Alps, the only one in Europe where cars are banned, but the cable can reach up to 3883 meters. In the Interlaken region is the highest railways in Europe (the highest point is 3475m, reached at Jungfraujoch).
As in the Netherlands, in Switzerland cycling is in great demand (3300 km of bicycle lanes, across the country), and in winter you can go on the slopes in San Moritz, and whatever the season, you can go with the glider over the Alps.
Those of you who will visit Switzerland will have the opportunity to discover the most beautiful things of Europe, from the scenery to the city lights, from the picturesque mountain resorts to festivals of contemporary art in a warm atmosphere and the transportation means, by land, sea or air, which work with the precision of the Swiss watch.