What to See in St. Gallen

St. Gallen is nestled between the Appenzell Alps and Lake Constance at an elevation of more than 2,000 feet. Founded in 612 A.D. by a wandering Irish monk named Gallus, this town is one of the main cultural centers in Switzerland. Today, St. Gallen has a symphony orchestra, universities, museums, historical monuments, and several buildings that date as far back as the Middle Ages.

Here are some of the top places to see in St. Gallen if you are wanting to explore and learn more about the history of the town.

Abbey Cathedral of St. Gall

The Abbey Cathedral of St. Gall is the main symbol of the town. Built between 1755 and 1768 A.D., it is one of the greatest examples of late Baroque style and architecture. The facade is made of carved polished wood, stucco, and an elaborately painted ceiling. The Abbey Cathedral of St. Gall is part of the original Benedictine monastery complex, which dates back to the 7th century. Since 1983, the Abbey Cathedral of St. Gall has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Abbey Library of St. Gall 

The Abbey Library of St. Gall was built in the former monastery of St. Gallen in 719 A.D. Like the Abbey Cathedral, the Abbey Library was designated a UNESCO World Heritage List. This Rococo style library is one of the oldest and richest libraries in the world, housing over 170,000 historical documents. Some of the documents are handwritten and date back more than a thousand years. One such treasure includes a dictionary in Middle Latin-Old High German, dating back to 790 A.D. It has 3,239 words and includes the oldest German version of the Lord’s Prayer as well as the oldest German creed.

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St. Lawrence Church

St. Lawrence Church is among the main sights in St. Gallen. Located on Marktgasse in Old Town, this Protestant neo-Gothic church, which was originally built in the 15th century, is one the most beautiful architectural monuments in St. Gallen. It has a beautiful mosaic-tiled roof, delicate floral frescos, and a star-studded ceiling that resembles the night sky. In the 16th century, St. Lawrence received a massive, beautifully decorated organ, making it the main decoration of the church. In the 19th century, the church underwent a complete reconstruction, transforming it into a basilica of neo-Gothic style. From this church, one can enjoy spectacular views of the Old Town and the abbey precinct.

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Textile Museum

Founded in 1878 A.D., the Textile Museum is a fascinating exhibition of Swiss embroidery, handmade lace, vintage fabrics, and historical costumes from the 4th to the 20th century. The Textile Museum also has on display examples of lacework from the Netherlands and ancient textiles from Egyptian tombs. There is a textile library that contains more than two million originals from the industrial age, as well as a functioning textile machine dating back to 1850 A.D.

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Peter and Paul Wildlife Park

The Peter and Paul Wildlife Park is located on the northeast side of the town and includes breathtaking views of Lake Constance.  It is home to native animals like deer, chamois, ibexes, lynxes, feral pigs, marmots, wild cats, and wild boars. The park has a restaurant with a terrace, so you can dine in front of those magnificent views. The park stays open year-round and visitors of all ages may enter free of charge.

Museum of Fine Arts

For art lovers, there is the Museum of Fine Arts. Located in the city center, this museum houses a rich collection of masterpieces from the Late Middle Ages to the 20th century. It offers visitors the chance to view paintings by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt, as well as works by celebrated Swiss and German artists like Ferdinand Hodler, Paul Klee, Max Liebermann, Carl Spitzweg, and Franz von Lenbach. There are also galleries dedicated to world-renowned masters of Impressionist movement such as Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, and Delacroix.