Nestled in a valley between Lake Constance and the Appenzell Alps, the buzzing university city of St. Gallen is a great destination for culture and history buffs.
St. Gallen was founded in the early 7th century when the Irish missionary monk Gallus who set up a hermitage here. For many centuries the city played an important role as an educational and cultural centre in Europe. From the 18th century, St. Gallen also became famous for its elaborate embroidery with the industry still going strong and supplying embellished fabrics to some of the biggest fashion houses in Europe.
The Old Town is a maze of charming narrow streets and beautiful squares. Here you can admire a typical feature of St. Gallen’s architecture, oriel windows that adorn the old houses built by rich resident some centuries ago.
The city’s most famous landmark is the Baroque Cathedral of St. Gall, which is part of an old abbey complex declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983. Step inside the church to admire the vibrant décor with elaborate stucco, intricate carvings and an impressive organ. The Abbey Library houses one of the world’s richest medieval libraries with almost 170,000 documents some of which are over 1000 years old. The library’s Baroque hall is an overwhelmingly beautiful example of whimsical rococo style, the most spectacular in Switzerland.
|St. Gall Cathedral|
Near the abbey, you will find the Mühleggbahn, a self-service funicular that will bring you up the hill for stunning vistas over St. Gallen and Lake Constance. In summer months, you can enjoy a swim in the splendid art-nouveau Dreilinden-Weiher open-air pool while admiring views over the city.
Every summer the city hosts St.Gallen Festival, an open-air classical music bonanza when the Abbey courtyard is transformed into an opera setting. Another great event that is worth a visit is St.Galler Genusstag (Indulgence Day) held in September. At this large food market you can indeed indulge and gorge on some of the best produce from the area such as cheese, cured meats, jams and many other delicacies.
Photos via Flickr by: Stephan Ohlsen, JJ Hall.