We take the train from Schwende to Gossau via Herisau then an express to St. Gallen for a day of exploring in this historic town.
1. Textilmuseum St. Gallen
Housed in a former textile mill, the St. Gallen textile museum was founded in 1878 and has an extensive collection of embroideries and lace as well as many other pieces of textile art.
The museum is internationally renowned and contains about 30,000 pieces, including rare fabrics from Egyptian tombs and 14th century handmade lace.
In addition to the beautiful and delicate fabrics and embroideries on display, many historical costumes from Switzerland and the rest of Europe are showcased.
Tools of the trade used throughout the rich history of textiles in St. Gallen are also on display.
One of the highlights of the museum is this fully functional hand embroidery machine which dates back to the golden age of the embroidery industry in St. Gallen around 1890.
The machine is 2 meters long and features 156 needles.
We’re in luck today as an expert is on hand to show how embroideries can be made with this marvelous machine.
2. Abbey of St. Gallen
The Abbey of St. Gallen is a beautiful Roman Catholic complex in the heart of St. Gallen consisting of a cathedral, a rich medieval library, and a lapidarium showcasing ancient remnants of past churches on the site.
There’s been a church on this site since 613, when an Irish monk established a hermitage here. In fact the entire city of St. Gallen sprung up from an original settlement around the abbey.
The magnificent interior of the Cathedral is one of the best examples of baroque cathedrals in all of Switzerland.
The cathedral we see today was designed by architect Peter Thumb in the late Baroque style and built between 1755 and 1768.
The Abbey library, also designed by Peter Thumb, contains one of the richest medieval collections in the world with over 160,000 books, some 2100 of which are handwritten.
The handwritten books are mostly from the Middle Ages, some of which are over 1000 years old.
The exquisite Rococo interior of the library features carved polished wood, stucco, and gold leaf.
The library has a preserved 9th century document known as the Plan of St. Gall which is the only surviving major architectural drawing from the 700 year period between the fall of the Roman Empire to the 13th century. It’s a plan of what the monastery should have been, but was never built.
Remnants of the Carolingian and Gothic churches that preceded the Cathedral of St. Gallen are on display in the lapidarium.
Capitols, architectural elements, and various statuary from the 9th century church and the 16th century church are on display here.
3. Mühleggbahn (Inclined railway)
Built in 1893, this small funicular connects St. Gallen city center with the St. Georgen district.
It only takes about 5 minutes to go up the hillside along the 317 meter length of the line, some of which is in a tunnel.
It took a year to build and is still a water weight system. Two cars are connected by a cable and water is pumped into a tank at the base of the car at the hilltop station. The weight of the water causes that car to descend while the other car at the base station with an empty tank travels to the top. The water is then pumped out of the car at the base station and the process is repeated.
From the station at the top we get beautiful views of St. Gallen.
4. Theater St. Gallen
The theater at St. Gallen is the oldest professional theater in Switzerland and today is home to nearly 20 new opera, musical, and ballet productions every year.
The building we see today was designed by Swiss architect Claude Paillard and was inaugurated with Beethoven’s Fidelio in 1968. It features two stages – a large 742 person auditorium, and a more intimate 100 person studio.
The interior is of modern design and refined edges constructed out of stone, concrete, and metal. The central angular staircase is the centerpiece and focus of this remarkable design.
Each year the theatre presents 390 performances to over 140,000 patrons.
5. Kunst Museum St. Gallen
The Kunst museum of St. Gallen is home to two museums – the museum of art, and the natural history museum.
This example of Neo-Renaissance style was designed by Johann Christoph Kinkier and construction of the building began in 1874. It was opened to the public in 1877.
The museum’s collection of paintings and sculptures dates from the Middle Ages to the present day and many temporary exhibits of Eastern Switzerland art are also featured from time to time.
Many Dutch paintings from the 17th century, 19th century Swiss, German, and French artworks, Appenzell peasant art, and several pieces of international modern art round out the collection.
Amongst the artists represented here are Corot, Millet, Delacroix, Courbet, Pissarro, and Monet.