After the year 2021 without visiting my sister Florence in Zug in Switzerland, I finally returned to the Confoederatio Helvetica in March 2022. I stayed over a week. More than a family visit, I organised an excursion to French-speaking Switzerland, also known as Romandy, to visit Maxime and the vineyards of Lavaux in the canton of Vaud, near Lausanne. I also booked a journey on the world-famous Glacier Express from Sankt Moritz to Brig. Furthermore, I looked for a nice way in and out. The ÖBB Nightjet night train from Amsterdam to Zurich and the voyage home via Lyon in France.
Sankt Gallen is a well-known name in cultural history. Famous for its Abbey and Abbey Library, St Gall’s Abbey is often referred to when visiting other monasteries and abbeys in Europe.
Sankt Gallen, St. Gallen or traditionally Saint Gall evolved from the hermitage of Saint Gall, founded in the 7th century. Today, it is a large urban agglomeration (with around 167,000 inhabitants in 2019) and represents the center of eastern Switzerland. Its economy consists mainly of the service sector. The city is home of the University of St. Gallen, one of the best business schools in Europe.
The main tourist attraction is the Abbey of Saint Gall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Abbey’s renowned library contains books from the 9th century.
Abbey of Saint Gall
The Abtei St. Gallen is a dissolved abbey (747–1805) in a Catholic religious complex. The Carolingian-era monastery has existed since 719 and became an independent principality between 9th and 13th centuries, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in Europe. It was founded by Saint Othmar on the spot where Saint Gall had erected his hermitage. The city of St. Gallen originated as an adjoining settlement of the abbey.
Following the secularization of the abbey in 1805, the former abbey church became a cathedral in 1848. Since 1983 the abbey precinct has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Abbey Library of Saint Gall or Stiftsbibliothek is a significant medieval monastic library located in St. Gallen, Switzerland. UNESCO sees the library as “an outstanding example of a large Carolingian monastery and was, since the 8th century until its secularisation in 1805, one of the most important cultural centres in Europe”.
During a fire in 937, the Abbey was destroyed, but the library remained intact.
The library hall, designed by the architect Peter Thumb in a Rococo style, was constructed between 1758 and 1767. A Greek inscription above the entrance door, “ΨΥΧΗΣ ΙΑΤΡΕΙΟΝ” (psukhēs iatreion), translates as “apothecary of the soul”.
The abbey complex is also an active school for boys. You can see the playground and the boys acting very straight playing football, gently bullying each other.
As a visitor, you can visit the library. No photos allowed. And you need to wear these oversized slippers.
As interesting is the Abby Vault downstairs, with an exhibition on the abbey’s history and its importance.
A third exhibition space explains how records, archives and the importance of records and archives work.
You can also visit the cathedral.
Sankt Gallen station clock
When you go to Sankt Gallen, take a look at the railway station. It has a peculiar clock. It’s a binary clock.
This photo was taken at 2PM (14 hours), 43 minutes and 33 minutes. Can you do the math?
The library is the high point. I did not spend hours studying the other exhibitions, but you can. If you don’t know much about Medieval Times and old written records, the exhibitions are very interesting.
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