Switzerland is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its Federal Constitution this year. Under the motto ‘1848 - an incredible story’, various anniversary activities are taking place throughout the year. One highlight is the ‘Government District Open Days’ event, which is taking place in Bern on the first weekend in July. For two days, Parliament, the federal government, the canton and the city of Bern, as well as other historic buildings, will be opening their doors and inviting the whole of Switzerland to take a look behind the scenes. Guests can also enjoy musical and culinary delights on Bundesplatz.

Not one, not two, but a multitude of doors will open in Bern on the first weekend in July: the west, east and north wings of the Federal Palace, Inselgasse, the Parliament Building, the Bernerhof, the Town Hall, as well as Erlacherhof, the Hotel Bellevue Palace, the Swiss National Bank and the Federal Palace Media Centre are offering the opportunity to see what goes on behind the sandstone walls and are putting on a broad programme to inform and entertain.

The Government District Open Days allow the government departments and their staff to present their roles and areas of work and to exchange ideas with visitors of all ages.

In the west wing of the Federal Palace, visitors can learn why the government meets in a ‘chalet’ or how the Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) organises a state reception. The federal government's guest house, the Bellevue Palace Hotel, is the setting for a state banquet. In the Bernerhof, formerly a leading hotel, the Department of Finance will give an insight into the federal finances and display confiscated contraband. The Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) will show a film entitled ‘Constitutio’, in which people from all over Switzerland read from the Federal Constitution. At Bundesplatz 1, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) presents the idea behind its foundation, shows the ‘true’ value of gold and provides insights into the life of a banknote. At Inselgasse – the home of the Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) headed by the current Swiss President – offers a look behind the scenes of a high-security laboratory. The Department of the Environment, Transport and Communications (DETEC) shows how national roads can ensure safety and sustainability. In the Parliament Building, satirist Michael Elsener discusses with President Alain Berset, Council of States president Brigitte Häberli-Koller, Federal Councillor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider and National Council president Martin Candinas. In the east wing of the Federal Palace, the Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) presents Swiss innovations that changed the country and indeed the world, and the Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) reveals how intelligence service methods have evolved over time. In the Erlacherhof, the public can learn why Bern became the seat of the federal government and what challenges are shared by the first Federal Council and today's federal government. At Bern's Town Hall visitors can slip into the role of a cantonal parliamentarian of yesteryear. In the building of the Bern Cantonal Bank, visitors can look back on past national exhibitions and see proposals for the next exhibition. In the federal government's media centre, visitors will learn from the Federal Chancellery how the Federal Council takes its decisions and communicates them.

There will be concerts, cabaret performances and activities for the youngest guests on the squares around the government buildings, as well as food stands, and Bundesplatz will become a green oasis where people can meet.

The Swiss Federal Railways SBB will be supporting the Government District Open Days by offering a discounted train ticket allowing visitors from all over Switzerland to travel to Bern for CHF 17.50.

Selected hotels in Bern are offering an 18% discount on stays from Saturday, 1 July, to Monday, 3 July. Further details can be found on the Bern Welcome website.

The Parliamentary Services have the task of organising the Federal Assembly’s anniversary activities. The Administration Delegation approved the project and the financing of the 175th anniversary of the Federal Constitution. The Swiss government supports the activities and the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) has taken over the lead role. The members of the Patronage Committee are Martin Candinas, president of the National Council, Brigitte Häberli-Koller, president of the Council of States, Federal Councillor Elisabeth Baume-Schneider and Yves Donzallaz, president of the Federal Supreme Court.

The Government District Open Days event runs from Saturday, 1 July, 1pm to 9pm, to Sunday, 2 July, 9am to 6pm. Last entrance to the buildings is an hour before the official closing time. Longer waiting times are possible due to security checks.

Click here for the full programme: www.1848-parl.ch/booklet-e

You will find more information about the anniversary on the dedicated website 1848 – an incredible story (Not in EN).

Plan of the government district: