St. Gallen, Switzerland
St. Gallen is both a canton and a city in the eastern part of Switzerland. In 610, an Irish monk called Gallus chose this spot for his hermitage. Later on, in 747, a Benedictine abbey was founded. With the addition of a library in the 9th century, it became a center of learning. The famous cathedral and abbey library are a must to visit. The whole abbey precinct was declared a World Cultural Heritage in 1983.
St. Gallen was an important producer of linen which was exported throughout Europe. St. Gallen's embroidery is known around the world. The town spreads over the nearby hills, which are scattered with huge blocks of buildings such as the Sankt Gallen Graduate School of Economics, Business and Public Administration (HSG), decorated by many artists from the 1960.
St. Gallen features one of the most picturesque old towns in Switzerland: many of the houses and buildings being from the 16th and 18th century, sometimes with painted facades, often adorned with wrought-iron signs and carved and painted wooden oriel windows. Walk along the pleasant alleys and browse through the many small and charming shops.
Attractions and Activities
Discover St. Gallen
St. Gallen's main attraction is its magnificent cathedral and the medieval center with the many half-timbered houses and oriel windows. Take a stroll through the old town and go back in time.
St. Gallen is also a major city in Switzerland and is in close proximity to the Alps.
Excursions in St. Gallen
St. Gallen Cathedral
Built from 1755 – 1767 by the architects Peter Thumb and Johan Michael Beer, the cathedral is a marvelous work from the late baroque period. The exterior is plain, forming a striking contrast to the opulently painted and decorated interior. The malachite-green statues and the many lights create a serene atmosphere in the church. The harmony of the building stems from the main dome over a rotunda in the exact center of the great structure. From the rotunda the chancel and the nave extend east and west.
Abbey Library, Lapidarium and Court Wing
The Abbey library is one of the oldest libraries in the world. The main room designed by Peter Thumb in 1758-1767 is again a baroque masterpiece. The library contains more than 150’000 books and manuscripts, some dating from the 8th to the 11th centuries. The Lapidarium is a “Stone collection” of the Abbey church. Archeological findings from the Carolingian monastery built from 830-837 are displayed. The bishop of St. Gallen resides in the western part of the Court Wing.
Karlstor (Karl’s Gate)
This gate was built in 1569/70 and is named after the Archbishop Milan Carlo Borromeo. It’s the only remaining outer gate of the city’s original 11 gates. It is situated in the east of the Abbey District.
Marktplatz (Market Square)
The square which was once the town’s main market square lies on the northern side of the Old Town. It’s surrounded by houses of the 17th and 18th centuries which often have attractive oriel windows, a typical feature of St. Gallen’s architecture. Make sure to bring your camera along.
At the eastern side of the marketplace is the Waaghaus (weighthouse), a white façade structure built in 1583 which houses now the city authorities.
Has the red carpet ever been rolled out for you? St. Gallen is doing it for everyone, famous or not. In the centre of St. Gallen, the red carpet is spread out between buildings. The largest public living room invites you to pass the time and offers space for meetings in the business lounge, relaxation lounge etc.
Mountain Excursions in St. Gallen
Would you like to enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of six countries at 2502 m.ü.M (8209 ft)? Then visit the ‘Säntis’, Appenzell’s most famous mountain. Just half an hour by car or an hour by public transportation, a modern aerial cableway brings you to the top where Appenzeller ambiance awaits you.
Every Saturday and Sunday in July and August, get up early to take the sunrise trip including breakfast buffet. At the Schwägalp (the base cableway station), a Nature Discovery Park introduces you to the many facets of the region. In winter, every Friday and Saturday evening, a 3.5 km (2.2 miles) walk through the winter forests is illuminated by laterns after dusk, just next to the Berghotel Schwägalp. Make sure to warm up afterwards with a glas of Glühwein or a Fondue.
Chäserrugg / Toggenburg
Visit one of the seven Churfirsten peaks, a mountain group located in the Toggenburg, just one hour from St. Gallen. Chässerugg is one of the known ski regions in the Toggenburg. From Unterwasser, take the funicular to the Iltios plateau from where you continue with a cable car to the Chässerugg. At 2262 m.ü.M. (7422 ft) you enjoy a unique view of the Säntis mountain, Lake Zurich, Lake Walensee and Lake Constance. For children there is a playground with a trampoline, slides and ropeway.
City Excursions in St. Gallen
Just one hour by train, Zurich is considered Switzerland’s most important financial, industrial and commercial center. Nestling beside Lake Zurich and along River Limmat, Zurich offers splendid views of the Swiss Alps and is an absolutely charming, interesting, and beautiful city to visit.
Sports in St. Gallen
In summer, the “Drei-Linden-Weiher” or “Weiere” as called by the locals, invites you to take a bath in a nature pond in the middle of St. Gallen.
If you like to conquer a wall, visit the climbing hall with 30 routes of all levels of difficulty in the west of St. Gallen. There is an additional structured boulder wall.
In winter, there is an ice-skating rink, a curling hall, public heated indoor pools as well as various fitness centers to stay in shape.
Just 15 minutes by public bus, there is a huge leisure and shopping-center called “Säntispark”. All kinds of sporting facilities await you: 14 bowling alleys, an 18-hole indoor mini golf course, badmington and squash courts, handball, volleyball, table tennis, dart, air hockey etc. If you like to swim outside when it’s snowing, take a swim in the 35 degrees Celsius /95 degrees Fahrenheit outdoor pool or slide down the 90 m/295 ft water slide. There is a direct bus (#7) from the St. Gallen main station.
Entertainment in St. Gallen
Theatre St. Gallen
Operettas as well as operas, musicals and theatre performances are on the program of the Theatre of St. Gallen. The theatre has a long history. In 1801 was the premiere of a play by August von Kotzebue. Consult the schedule and find out if there is a performance while you are in town.
Try your luck at the 15 gaming tables and 165 slot machines. The casino is located in the Radisson SAS Hotel, just minutes from the site of the OLMA Fair.
Shopping in St. Gallen
The main shopping zone is concentrated in the city center, which makes it ideal for pedestrians. St. Gallen offers everything from elegant fashion stores, department stores, boutiques with top quality products (shoes, furs, accessories, porcelain, jewellery and watches), banks and pastry shops.
Events in St. Gallen
At the Swiss Trade Fair for Agriculture and Nutrition more than 600 exhibitors show their wares annually in October. This traditional St. Gallen trade fair is visited by thousands of locals and tourists every year. The live animal exhibitions are especially interesting for children. Make sure to eat a “St. Galler Bratwurst” (St. Gallen sausage), the speciality of St. Gallen and the OLMA.
Open Air St. Gallen
This music event is the biggest open air festival in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Since 1977, thousands of music fans flock to St. Gallen in summer to listen to the giants of the music scene and get that special “open air feeling”.
On Easter Sunday morning, more than 4000 eggs are hidden in the Old Town to be found by children and hunting fans. The starting point is in front of the Waaghaus at the Marketplace. Try to find the eggs and get rewarded with chocolate or even with a special prize when finding the “golden eggs”.
CSIO (Concours de Saut International Officiel)
St. Gallen plays host to this major equestrian event every year at the Gründenmoos sports facilities. At the CSIO, the national horse sport teams delegate 4 riders to build the official team. Highlights of the CSIO are the “Big Prize” and the “Prize of the Nations”.
Museums/Libraries in St. Gallen
St. Gallen was and is the center of the textile industry. This museum is filled with an array of pieces illustrating the art of weaving, embroidery and the exquisite handmade lace. Next to the permanent exhibition there are temporary displays.
Natural History Museum and Art Museum
This museum is divided into two parts: One displaying the natural history, with more than 110’000 plants, 110’000 invertebrates, 13’000 vertebrates, 25’000 fossils and 50’000 geological objects, the other is an art gallery with works from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Music Box Cabinets Labhart
One of the smallest museums in Switzerland is devoted to the more than 200-year-old-tradition of music boxes. Some old rarities, large music automats as well as mechanical sing birds are displayed on the 3 floor of the watch shop Labhart at the Marktgasse.
Beer Bottle Museum
Have you ever tasted Swiss beer? It has an old tradition. The Schützengarten brewery houses the first beer bottle museum in Switzerland. More than 2000 bottles from 260 different breweries are displayed, the oldest ones are approx. 140 years old and made of clay. Walk through the exhibition and get to know Switzerland’s brewery history.
Location and Map
Located in the eastern part of Switzerland, St. Gallen is 90 km (56 miles) from Zurich and 204 km (126.7 miles) from Switzerland's capital Berne. Munich is just 264 km (164 miles) away.
The train ride from Zurich takes 1 hour, from Berne 2 hours, Munich is 3 hours away and Vienna can be reached in 9.5 hours.
St. Gallen Tourism: Map of St. Gallen