The compact metropolis of eastern Switzerland between Lake Constance and Appenzellerland has a charming, traffic-free old town. Colourfully-painted oriel windows are a town feature. The Abbey precinct with the cathedral and Abbey Library has been accorded UNESCO World Heritage listing.
St.Gallen’s most famous landmark is its Baroque cathedral with the Abbey Library, which houses some 170,000 documents – in part hand-written and over a thousand years old. The library probably also has Switzerland’s most beautiful Rococo hall. The entire Abbey precinct was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
The name and foundation of the town stem from the Irish missionary monk Gallus who founded a hermitage here around 612. From 747, the then St.Gallen monastery was already following Benedictine Rule, which required the contemplative study of books and accordingly also stipulated the presence of a library. In the Middle Ages, the town developed into an important hub of culture and education in Europe. Later, the St.Gallen embroideries attracted international recognition and brought prosperity to the town.
St.Gallen is a university town with a focus on the economic sciences. The home town of the renowned «Mummenschanz» theatre group offers a varied cultural offering with theatres and museums. In summer, the romantic art-nouveau Dreilinden-Weiher open-air pool with its splendid views over the town attracts visitors to swim.
The excellent location in the four-country corner Switzerland, Germany, Austria and the Principality of Liechtenstein make St.Gallen the best starting point for excursions into the Appenzellerland with the Säntis, and to Lake Constance. Whether by rail or bicycle, the cycling and inline paradise of Lake Constance can be reached quickly along the Lake Constance Cycle Path. The combination of rail ‘n’ bike allows captivating tours to be undertaken which cross national borders. For walkers, the ‘Bridge Trail’ which passes over 18 bridges in the Sittertobel near St.Gallen is an experience: much about the design and construction of bridges is learnt en route. A six-hour section of the ‘Route of St. James’ leads from Rorschach to Herisau via St.Gallen.
The Voralpen-Express connects Lake Constance with Lucerne via St.Gallen in 2:45 hours. This 149-km-long transversal travelling across the foothills of the Alps is interesting from a technical rail viewpoint, but also impresses with stunning landscapes such as the Toggenburg, Lake Zurich, and hill moor of Rothenturm.