Switzerland · Travel

Bern: In the footsteps of Albert Einstein

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid – Albert Einstein

Well, this is just one of the inspiring quotes from the renowned physicist Albert Einstein.  And if you are wondering what inspired the legendary scientist himself, a part of the answer lies in the capital city of Switzerland, Bern.  Bern was the city where Einstein spent some part of his life (from 1902 to 1909) and most importantly it was here that he developed the famous theory of Relativity.   Yes, the famous equation of E=mc2 for which Einstein is perhaps best known for.

Albert Einstein
Bust of Albert Einstein

So, if you are a fan of science, physics and Albert Einstein, Bern is a great place to discover the legacy of one of the greatest physicist of all time. It is in Bern that you can visit the former house of the scientist as well as a museum dedicated to him.  The Albert Einstein Society, an initiative spearheaded by Dr. Max Flückiger that was founded in 1977 is also based in Berne and has been responsible for the opening of the Einstein house, renaming of a street in Bern after the scientist and the periodic awarding of the Einstein Medal that recognizes talent in the field of physics.

Einsteinhaus aka Einstein House

Located on 49, Kramgasse in the centre of Bern’s old town that is a UNESCO world heritage site, Einsteinhaus is the former residence of Albert Einstein.  Now converted into a museum, Albert Einstein lived in this house from 1903 to 1905.  It was, however, in early 1902 that Einstein first moved to Bern and in June that year he was employed at the Patent Office of the city.

Inside Einsteinhaus
Inside Einsteinhaus

The flat that is located in the second floor of the building was where Einstein lived with his wife Mileva Marić.  Their son Hans Einstein was also born here in May 1904.  The house that is impeccably maintained and open to visitors showcases the life and times of the scientist during this period.  The exhibits include original furniture, photographs and original newspaper clippings pertaining to the life of Albert Einstein.  Objects such as the baby’s crib, Einstein chair and kitchen crockery are certainly noteworthy.

Inside Einsteinhaus
Inside Einsteinhaus

One of the most significant milestones of Einstein’s life is intrinsically associated with the house.  It was in the year 1905, often termed as annus mirabilis (Latin phrase for wonderful or miraculous year) that Einstein penned his pioneering papers on light quantum hypothesis, the size of atoms, Brownian movement and the special theory of relativity.  These papers that would lay the foundation of modern physics and establish principles pertaining to space, time, mass, and energy were published in the Annalen der Physik scientific journal in 1905.

Inside Einsteinhaus
Inside Einsteinhaus

The third floor of the building is dedicated to literature on the sequence of events of Einstein’s life and is a treasure house of information on his early days, education and professional life.  Details on his degrees, citations and scientific papers is highly insightful.  There is also an audio-visual room that screens a 20-minute movie highlighting the major incidents of his life.  A visit to the house is truly an engaging and informative experience for adults and children alike.

Einstein museum

Housed within the Bern Historical Museum which is the second largest historical museum in the country, the Einstein Museum first started as a temporary exhibition in 2005.  It was later converted into a permanent display and currently houses over 500 original objects, films, books and materials covering the life of Albert Einstein.  With animation and modern technology, the Einstein museum is one of the most popular sections of the Historical museum and occupies an area of about 1000 sq meters.   A perfect place for students, researchers and budding scientists indeed!

This is not all.  Given that Einstein is arguably the most famous resident of Bern, there are benches with the statue of a sitting Albert Einstein in four prominent locations in the city.  These benches have been installed in the Rose Garden, Bear Park, Bern Historical Museum as well as the University of Bern. Visiting these places, sharing the bench and clicking a selfie with the eminent scientist is a popular thing to do with most tourists!

Berne is an ideal day trip from Zurich.  This article orginally appeared in Sakal times here.

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