Bern, Switzerland

Corner of the street in Bern. No archaeological evidence that indicates a settlement on the site of today′s city centre prior to the 12th century has been found so far. In antiquity, a Celtic oppidum stood on the Engehalbinsel (peninsula) north of Bern, fortified since the second century BC (late La Tène period), thought to be one of the 12 oppida of the Helvetii mentioned by Caesar. During the Roman era, a Gallo-Roman vicus was on the same site. The Bern zinc tablet has the name Brenodor (“dwelling of Breno”). In the Early Middle Ages, a settlement in Bümpliz, now a city district of Bern, was some 4 km (2 mi) from the medieval city.

The medieval city is a foundation of the Zähringer ruling family, which rose to power in Upper Burgundy in the 12th century. According to 14th-century historiography (Cronica de Berno, 1309), Bern was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, Duke of Zähringen.

The Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, France

In 1758, King Louis XV commissioned the greatest architect of his day, Jacques-Ange Gabriel, to build twin structures overlooking the Place de la Concorde. The result was a masterpiece of 18th-century architecture. Behind one of the facades rose a sumptuous private residence decorated by the era’s finest artists and craftsmen. Such are the origins of the Hôtel de Crillon, created to host the world’s great ambassadors. Long owned by the illustrious family of the Counts of Crillon, this private mansion was transformed into a luxury palace hotel in 1909 under the impulse of architect Walter-André Destailleur.

The Buen Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain

The gardens were extended in the 1620s, when Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, Philip IV’s powerful favourite, gave the king several tracts of land in the vicinity for the Court’s recreational use. Olivares determined to build, in a place that the king liked, a royal house which should be superior to those villas that Roman nobles had been setting up in the hilly outskirts of Rome during the previous century. Although this second royal residence was to be built in what were then outlying areas of Madrid, it was actually not far from the existing Alcázar or fortress residence, and the location in a cool, wooded area proved to be ideal.