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At the Swiss parliament

Little Blue Birdie's Diary

Some children and even birds may have visited our local parliament. One is certainly lucky to have this kind of opportunity, but how lucky do you think one should be to visit the Swiss Parliament? Hey, I'm not boasting! We recently got the opportunity to visit this marvellous building with superb architecture.

The brilliant architect of this building, which is situated in the city of Bern, on a cliff edge above the river Aare, is Hans Wilhelm Auer.

This building, with its Florentine architecture and central dome, can easily be mistaken for a U.S. State Capitol building.

It is formally known as Bundeshaus or Federal Palace and houses the Swiss Federal Parliament and Federal Council, Aaron, our guide, explained. The oldest part of the building, the West Wing, dates back to 1856, while the other part was inaugurated only on April 1, 1902.

Because of this time difference, it is known as the building with two chambers; the Nationalrat and the Standerat. These two chambers are separated by the beautiful hall with a dome. This dome has an external height of 64m and an internal height of 33m, Aaron added.

My friends, Mandy, Koshy and Cuckoo were overjoyed by the beauty of the place. In the centre of the hall was a mosaic (picture), which represented the Federal Coat of Arms along with the Latin motto 'One for all, and all for one'. This was surrounded by the coats of arms of the 22 cantons (divisions) that existed in 1902.

According to Lanie, the old bird who had lived in the castle for long, the coat of arms of the Canton of Jura, created in 1979, was placed outside the mosaic.

Fresco done by Charles Chiron

The larger of the two chambers had a huge fresco done by Charles Chiron, titled 'The Cradle of the Confederation' which shows Lake Lucerne and its surrounding mountains, with a passing cloud formation to liven up the scenery.

According to Baedeker's Switzerland (1911 edition), the painting is best seen from the visitors' gallery located opposite. That advice was worth taking note of.

The central domed hall and both chambers featured numerous symbolic descriptions of Swiss history. As we were told, the Swiss Government consists of seven members of the Federal Council, who are elected by the United Federal Assembly for a four-year term. The President of the Confederation is elected for just one year and is regarded as Primus inter pares (first among equals) for this period.

He chairs the meetings of the Federal Council and undertakes special representational duties (Tasks of the Federal Council). The Standerat represents all the cantons with two members from each. The Nationalrat is where two hundred members represent the public.

The various chambers are decorated with coats of arms, statues and paintings commemorating different events in Swiss history. If you want to see the assembly sitting, you can watch the proceedings from the public gallery. To know whether the assembly is sitting, what you can do is check whether the overhead flag is flying or not!

Oh! I nearly forgot. You should be informed that the parliament has green roof tops. This is not the latest style!

It is because the roofs were made of copper, which turned green over the years, after being exposed to the weather.

That was an interesting journey, wasn't it? See you soon with details from another interesting place!



Gamin Gamata - Presidential Community & Welfare Service
Sri Lanka

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