History of Biel
First settlement existed here around 4th century BC (the Roman coins from 1 ? 4 century BC have been found during the excavations in 1846). The Prince-Bishops of Basel founded Biel again between 1220 and 1230. The town had semi-independent status for almost six centuries before being overrun by Napoleon in 1789. Biel became part of the canton of Bern in 1815 and grew rapidly following setup of the watch-making industry. The city is now acknowledged center and the home of Omega, Rolex, Tissot and Swatch.
Today the town is also famous for its Biel International Chess festival. Last, 36th festival just ended (19.07.2003 - 01.08.2003). The winner of the Biel Grandaster tournament 2003 is Alexander Morozevich from Moscow.