European Heritage Policies


Federal policy on cultural heritage is defined in programmes entitled "Message for the promotion of culture for the period …" or "Culture message", which establish the priority thrusts and funding for a five-year period.  The next programme will cover the years 2016-2020, with emphasis on:

  • Funding aid for the conservation of assets to be protected and archaeological operations;
  • Expert appraisals, authorisations and advice in line with federal competence;
  • Principles and standards, drawing up of recommendations and practical guides;
  • Cultural outreach, knowledge and research: communication, advancement of junior academics, fostering of knowledge;
  • Collaboration with cantons, organisations and other partners, strengthening of dialogue with civil society;
  • International affairs, active participation in multilateral cultural cooperation;
  • Culture of contemporary building: development of a federal promotion strategy incorporating the historic and contemporary culture of building.

In Switzerland, culture, including heritage, lies within the remit of the 26 cantons, which are the member states of the Confederation.  Since the cantons have sovereign powers in the area of culture, initial responsibility for the protection of heritage and the conservation of monuments lies with them; the Confederation is involved only at a subsidiary level. The two levels of government (Confederation and cantons) have specialised services covering the conservation of monuments, archaeology and the protection of built sites, as well as for the protection of nature and landscape.  In addition there are a whole host organisations of varying legal status which work to safeguard cultural assets at national level.  Some of them play an important role in administrative procedure since they have a right of appeal.

At federal level, the specialised authorities are:

At cantonal level, the 26 cantons each have their own specialised services for the conservation of built cultural heritage and for archaeology, which fulfill their mission in accordance with the respective canton's legislation.  These services are more or less developed, depending on the size of the canton.

Federal Department of Home Affairs



Federal Department of Environment,

Transport, Energy and Communications


Federal Department of Defence

Civil Protection and Sport



Federal Office of Culture



Federal Office of the Environment


Federal Office for Civil Protection


-   immovable cultural heritage and archaeology

-   museums and collections

-   illegal trafficking

-   intangible heritage

-   nature and landscape

-   regional and national parks

-   cultural assets (conflicts and natural disasters)

National legislation


Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe of 3 October 1985 (Granada)

Ratified, 1995

European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage (Revised) of 16 January 1992 (Valetta)

Ratified, 1995

European Landscape Convention of 20 October 2000 (Florence)

Ratified, 2012

Framework Convention on the Value of Cultural Heritage for Society of 27 October 2005 (Faro)


Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property of 14 November 1970

Ratified, 2003

UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 23 November 1972

Ratified, 1975

UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of 17 October 2003

Ratified, 2008

UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions of 20 October 2005

Ratified, 2008


National coordinator: 
Label [EN]: 
Label [FR]: 
Bern (Berne, Berna)
7 785 800
Area (km2): 
41 285.00
Density (pop/km2): 
Photo gallery: 
Berne BE_vue aerienne de la vieille ville
Official minorities: 
Data = 21.07.11 Population census from 2009