St. Gallen travel guide
The town of St Gallen, with its ancient buildings and painted oriel windows, is rather reminiscent of a Harry Potter film set, or other picturesque fantasy town. Not well known as a tourist destination, we hope our St Gallen Travel Guide will enlighten you with travel and tourism information to bring this magical place alive. Located in the north-east of Switzerland, St Gallen is one of the highest cities in the country and as it receives a good deal of snow in the winter, it affords some excellent facilities for winter sports in nearby resorts.
It was founded in 610 by an Irish monk seeking a site for his hermitage and it was on this site that a Benedictine abbey was built just over a century later. The Abbey of St Gall houses one of the world’s richest mediaeval libraries and is almost beyond description for the sense of wonder and reverence it inspires. Its magnificent ceiling often renders visitors speechless. Unsurprisingly this was declared a World Heritage Site in the 1980s.
The old town centre is almost equally picturesque, with its charming old buildings and carved wooden windows projecting out from painted facades. There are actual tours of these windows to ensure you do not miss any of the architectural masterpieces, but just strolling idly through the traffic-free, narrow streets and alleyways as you wander in and out of the sweet little shops, is a delightful way to pass an afternoon, with camera, of course, at the ready.
Like most cities in Switzerland, St Gallen is not without its chocolate temptations. In nearby Flawil is Schoggiland where you can unwrap the secrets of Swiss chocolate production by observing the process from the visitors’ gallery. But one of the other things St Gallen is famous for is its local textile production. Since the 15th century it has been known for its manufacture of fine embroidery and lace and the Textile Museum in the centre of St Gallen provides a fascinating documentary of this once monastery-based industry.
There is a superior leisure park in St Gallen as well as many water based activities around the shores of Lake Constance, but the alpine walks and views in the Alpstein region, which can be accessed by cable car, are quite breathtaking. You will see the crown of the Alps (Alpenkranz) and, in the crisp alpine air, a magnificent vista across six countries. Really, the truly amazing thing about St Gallen is that the Swiss have managed to keep this magical place such a closely guarded secret for so long.