In the hilly, pre-Alpine landscape set against the imposing backdrop of the Alpstein Massif by Lake Constance, St. Gallen is a place where the air is still pure, grass meticulously trimmed, green and lush and stress is a relatively unknown concept. In other words, it’s the perfect place to take time out of your hectic schedule and just be on your own timetable.
A STEP BACK IN TIME
When in St Gallen, you’re just an hour away from Zurich yet far away from city vibes. Spend a day walking at your leisure, admiring its one-of-a-kind architecture you get to see at every turn.
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Abbey Precinct houses the cathedral and the library, and is a real treat. With its twin towers, the Baroque-era cathedral defines the cityscape of St Gallen. Know more about the monumental sacred building that has a lavishly-painted interior, richly decorated with stucco work and paintings. Once there, let the stillness of prayer and meditation envelop you
In the beautiful rococo hall of Abbey Library, marvel at 1,70,000 printed books, more than 2,000 original medieval handwritten manuscripts and ancient maps. After all, there’s a reason it’s known as the “pharmacy of the soul”
Don’t miss the neo-Gothic style St Lawrence Church with a roof of shimmering mosaic tiles in colourful diamond patterns.
IMMERSE IN TEXTILE TRADITION
It was and still is world-famous – St Gallen embroidery. Crème de la crème of the design world such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani and Nina Ricci use lace from here for their haute couture. So, what would a trip to the textile city be without a visit to the textile museum? Located at Vadianstrasse 2, it showcases late antique fabrics from Coptic graves in Egypt, embroideries from the 14th century on, handmade lace from top European lace makers, ethnological textiles, needlework utensils, and contemporary textile art objects. The display of oh-so-pretty evening dresses made out of local fabrics makes you want them all! To sum it up, the museum gives you a glimpse into how St Gallen has “woven” its way to success – quite literally.
PEAK THROUGH VINTAGE WINDOWS
The statue of Gallus in the centre of the Old Town
Every city has a story and Sankt Gallen’s is credited to a wandering Irish missionary monk named Gallus. Stroll through the Altstadt (Old Town) to find traces of this fascinating history as well as richly-decorated houses which belong to the drapers.
Looking skywards in St Gallen is worthwhile! The 111 preserved oriels (bay windows) on the burgher houses are ostentatiously ornate. They are works of art depicting myth, wit, whims and tales of riches and adventurous travels to exotic lands. What’s more? The windows have imaginative names like “Camel oriel”, “Pelican oriel” and “Swan oriel”. Guided tours are a good way to scratch beneath the surface of this saintly city’s sights
ON A SHOPPING SPREE
With narrow cobblestone lanes, spacious squares, and lively sidewalk cafes, shopping in the charming city centre is definitely a “do”. Go around the vehicle-free Multergasse, Spisergasse, Marktgasse, Neugasse that are bustling with activity; browse through attractive window displays and keep an eye for colourful flea markets.
MUST-DO – WINE & CHEESE AT HELDSBERG FORTRESS MUSEUM
Located between St. Margrethen and Au, the former artillery fortress that is now the Heldsberg Fortress Museum makes for an exciting outing for anyone with an interest in wars. The museum also offers a special fondue over an open fire, with crusty bread and baked potatoes on long skewers. Pair it with Swiss wine that is poured in sassy wine glass necklaces
BEST TIME TO VISIT ST GALLEN & WHAT TO DO THERE
SUMMER: In summer, take the funicular train up to the venerable Drei Weieren that offers splendid views of St Gallen. While its natural, open-air pool invites you for a cooling splash, you can also hike on the trail to discover the city from different angles.
St Gallen in its Christmasy avatar
WINTER: During the winter months, the city turns into a star-filled wonderland and 700 stars sparkle over the streets and squares here. The romantic Christmas market is a major attraction. Go ice-skating on one of the three frozen lakes of Drei Weieren