St Gallen

Another day, another day trip. I took my in-laws up to St Gallen this week and it was simply stunning. Autumn in Switzerland can deliver these crisp, sunny days with amazing dark blue skies. It was warm in the sunshine but cool in the shade – perfect weather for sightseeing, really!

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We visited the Stiftsbibliothek – where no photos are allowed. I don’t quite know how to convey how awed I was by this place. Having studied Medieval History and medieval manuscripts at university, I felt quite moved to visit this ancient library. They had texts there from Charlemagne and the Bishop of Wurms – stuff I’d read about and written essays on! Seeing the illuminated scripts (under glass) in this environment really gave a wonderful impression of how it might have been as a monk back in the day in the presence of all these incredible books. I think I’m actually still processing what I saw and the enormity of it. Texts dating back to 800-900 – those early middle ages are such a fascinating time. Wow.

St Gallen is a small(ish) town in the mountains with a beautifully preserved medieval main square (Gallusplatz) encompassing a UNESCO world heritage site. In the old town centre, many buildings feature ornate oriel windows dating back to the late middle ages (shades of The Name of the Rose – a book I also read while at uni, thankfully at the time I knew the most Latin!). Apparently the oriel windows were a sign of wealth and St Gallen has some of the best/most examples of them around.

We also visited the cathedral/ the Dom. I’m always taken with just how different the impression you get of a church is from the outside compared to how it “feels” when you step in. This place was a serene, baroque fancy, all decked out in soft green-painted plasterwork and gold leaf. You get the feeling there’s still no shortage of cash in and around St Gallen! The green colour was reminiscent of copper roofs (which many churches have) or tree moss, so gave a lovely sense of the outdoors inside. And it was so light. Just beautiful.

I really enjoyed our trip to St Gallen (1.5hr by train from Oerlikon).

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