|Bern : Outer districts|
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If you’re on an extended visit to Bern, or if you just fancy something a bit different from medieval history at every turn, more modern districts slightly out from the Old Town can provide a little urban realism.
Easiest to reach – just a short walk north of the train station across the river – is Lorraine. Late in the nineteenth century a dyed-in-the-wool working-class district, in the last decades Lorraine has attracted a growing population of students and young people who have created a funky, relaxed community atmosphere which nonetheless doesn’t exclude the many oldtimers still in the neighbourhood. Developers caught on to the appeal of the place in the 1990s, and more and more glass-and-steel architecture is appearing in amongst the old houses, but Lorrainestrasse and the streets around still retain much charm.
If you follow Schanzenstrasse up behind the train station, a short climb will bring you to Länggassstrasse, heart of the bustling university district of Länggasse. The Unitobler building, at no. 49a, 300m along on the left (bus #12 stops outside), was formerly the factory where, for most of the twentieth century, the famous Toblerone chocolate was produced. In the 1980s, production moved to a more modern site outside Bern, and the building was renovated for use by the university (hence the Unitobler name), subsequently receiving numerous architectural awards for sensitivity of renovation. You’re basically free to explore: the student café spills onto a sunny plaza behind the building, and the library occupies an extraordinary below-ground site between two wings of the building that has been converted into an impressive three-storey atrium space. Just behind Unitobler, on Freiestrasse, is the elegant Pauluskirche, dating from 1905 and one of the best examples of Art Nouveau in the country.
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