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View from the <a href="/content/Bundesplatz_(Bern)" style="color:blue">Bundesplatz</a>
View from the Bundesplatz

The Federal Palace (German: Bundeshaus, French: Palais fédéral, Italian: Palazzo federale, Romansh: Chasa federala, Latin: Curia Confœderationis Helveticæ) refers to the building in Bern housing the Swiss Federal Assembly (legislature) and the Federal Council (executive). It has a total length of more than 300 metres (980 ft) consisting of a central assembly building and two wings (eastern and western) housing government departments and a library. The name in German and Romansh both mean "federal house", whereas the French and Italian names both translate to "Federal Palace". The Latin word curia originates from Ancient Rome and originally meant an assembly, and later used for where the Roman Senate met, both meanings being relevant to the Federal Palace.

History


The building was designed by the architect Hans Wilhelm Auer and constructed between 1894 and 1902 by 173 Swiss firms and 33 Swiss artists.[1] Its inauguration took place on 1 April 1902. The total cost, at the time, was 7,198,000 Swiss Francs.

Domed Hall


The central assembly building is dominated by a domed hall in the layout of a Swiss cross.[1] It separates the two chambers of the National Council (south) and the Council of States (north). The dome itself has an external height of 64 metres (210 ft) that was exceptional at the time, but chosen to balance the total length of the three buildings. [2] The mosaic in the center represents the federal coat of arms along with the Latin motto Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno (One for all, and all for one), surrounded by the coat of arms of the 22 cantons that existed in 1902. The coat of arms of the Canton of Jura, created in 1979, was later placed outside of the mosaic. The hall is dominated by the sculpture The Three Confederates (Die drei Eidgenossen) created by James André Vibert and referring to the legendary oath to fight for Switzerland (Rütlischwur).

North Façade


The central entry facing the Federal Square (Bundesplatz) and opening up to a domed hall carries the inscription Curia Confœderationis Helveticæ (Swiss Federal Assembly) underneath a pediment. The roof edge is topped by Auguste de Niederhäusern-Rodo's allegorical sculpture of Helvetia representing independence (center), with the executive on her left, and the legislature on her right. This arrangement was inspired by the Pallas Athena Fountain of the Austrian Parliament.[2] The pediment is flanked by two griffins by Anselmo Laurenti symbolizing courage, wisdom, and strength. The female allegories in the second floor niches by James André Vibert represent freedom (left) and peace (right).[1] Two commemorative plaques above refer to the years 1291 (Federal Charter and the legendary Rütlischwur) and 1848 (first Federal Constitution transforms Switzerland into a federal state). Finally, the male allegories in the first floor niches by Maurice Reymond represent the chronicler of the past (left) and the cronicler of the present (right).[2]

Organisation


Trivia


As reported in a study by the Federal parliamentary services (Parlamentsdienste), the noise caused by human activities in the chamber of the National Council is clearly too loud. The previously undisclosed study was published by 10vor10 on 12 December 2014, pointing that the noise level is usually at a level of about 70 decibels, comparable to a used roadway, so concentration of work for politicians is not possible.[6]

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