Travel Stories Switzerland: Sankt Gallen

A visit to St. Gallen, the unofficial capital of Eastern Switzerland, was on my to-do list since a while. Finally, on a sunny day in October, I took the train and went to see the famous and picture perfect Abbey Library of St. Gallen. Although I only had couple of hours to spend in the city, it was long enough to discover few other highlights of St. Gallen.

The Abbey place with the Abbey Cathedral.

The Abbey of Sankt Gallen was announced an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The Abbey was founded in the 8th century by Saint Othmar as a monastery. It consists of various buildings, which of the library, the cathedral and the exhibition in the vaulted cellar can be visited.

The library hall build in rococo style.

The Abbey library is the oldest in Switzerland and one of the oldest an most beautiful libraries in the world. It’s collection counts as much as 170’000 books and documents, some dated back to the 8th century. All books published after 1900 can be borrowed, the older ones are available to be viewed directly in the reading hall upon request. The main library hall, build in rococo style and designed by the architect Peter Thumb, is the only room that can be visited by the public. Although no pictures are allowed, the views of the library are truly breathtaking and definitely worth visiting.

Inside of the Abbey cathedral with the altar.

The Abbey cathedral was build between 1755-1768 as one of the last monumental sacral buildings in baroque style and stands on the same spot where the Irish itinerant monk Gall built his hermitage in the year 612. The cathedral is surrounded by a small park, a spot loved by the locals to spend lunch breaks at. As a tradition, every year in December a huge Christmas tree delivered by helicopter, is put up next to the cathedral.

Oriel window at the Marktgasse.

The Abbey complex is located in the old part of the city, surrounded by some pretty impressive historical buildings. No matter in which direction you walk, you will pass a number of beautiful timbered houses or see few of the 111 Oriel windows located all around St. Gallen. Should you, at one point, be in a need of refreshment, there are plenty of cozy coffee places in this area.

The Red square with one of the ‘Bubble’ lamps.

Another famous spot in Sankt Gallen is the Red square (Roter Platz), known as well as the Citylounge (Stadtlounge). The outside area, surrounding the headquarter of the Raiffeissenbank, was co-developed by famous Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist as a red colored outdoor livingroom. I found this idea very creative, the organically shaped lamps called Bubbles being my favorite part of it.

Original circus costumes from the Knie exhibition at the Textile Museum.

My last stop was the Textile Museum of Sankt Gallen (Textilmuseum St. Gallen). The city has a long-standing textile tradition, especially in embroidery. The history can be discovered in the permanent exhibition of the museum. The textile library, located in the same building, is home to more than 2000 books with over a 2 millions samples of machine embroidery from the late 19th to early 20th century, the golden age of embroidery industry in St. Gallen. Large amount of books dedicated to textile prints, weavings, wallpapers, photographs and many other subjects can be found in the library. During my visit a special exhibition dedicated to Circus Knie was on display, showing a collection of 90 original costumes from the 100 years long history of the famous Swiss circus dynasty.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and maybe even get inspired to visit St. Gallen yourself. As always, leave a comment if you like or let me know if you have a question. I would love to hear from you.

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