For my first visit to St. Gallen I’ve joined the (daily) Guided City Tour in St. Gallen, starting at 11:30 am in front of the Tourist Information in the Central District. Guided City Tours are a great possibility to explore a City you’ve never been to. If you don’t know any local to show you around, just join an official tour and learn things that are probably not even written on Wikipedia. The price for the 1 hour Guided City Tour in St. Gallen is 12 CHF. Due to the bad exchange rate to Euro, and other currencies, it’s about 11,60 € or 12,20 US$ or 7 GBP. I experienced it as quite expensive but was it was my first visit I wanted to learn a lot about the City in a short time.
My Guided City Tour in St. Gallen started punctually in front of the Tourist Information of St. Gallen Bodensee Tourism that is located between the Abbey of St. Gallen and the Gallusplatz. We were a small Group of in total 6 people and the friendly Guide let us decide between a Tour in Swiss-German or German, the Group opted for German – English Tours are available as well! The Tour started by walking towards the Gallusplatz, the oldest square in town. Until about a hundred years ago it still had the name “in Loch” (in the hole), but that’s just not an attractive name. Most of the houses in St. Gallen, in the inner centre and close to the convent, were built during the 17th century or even earlier. Most of them used to be Timbered houses, what we nowadays think is charming. But back then it was just the cheapest and easiest method to built a house and so some of them were covered since then. In general, there is an evolution visible when walking through the alleyways and streets. If the City, and the Family, were rich they invested in their house to show-off.
The main income for St. Gallen and the region of eastern Switzerland came from the textile business. It once started with the growing of flax and the production of linen. The St. Gallen Linen was well-known all over Europe for their extraordinary quality. To keep the level of quality high there was kind of a quality control that made sure that every exported garment fit to that level. Otherwise, they were destroyed/transformed to simple tissues. And all that already in the Middle Ages, hundred and hundred years ago.
This was the start of how St. Gallen first became famous in the textile industry, but a few (dozens to hundred) years later even more through the invention of a method to actually sew Lace. The St. Gallen embroidery made the City ultimately wealthy and famous. But everything changed during and after the first world war in the early 20th century and it was a tough time as a lot of people lost their jobs and existence. Nowadays a few still produce the very special embroidery and did you know that Charlene, Princess of Monaco wore a Dress made of St. Gallen embroidery for her wedding in 2011?
But back to the Guided City Tour in St. Gallen. I total we walked not more than one kilometre and the amount of Information was rather medium. As I already read a bit about St. Gallen and it’s History I quite missed a bit. Asking Questions was possible during the Guided City Tour in St. Gallen, what I also did, but if you don’t know anything/enough it’s just hard to ask about it. Back when the Guided City Tour just started I asked “So all the Houses here were built in the 17th Century?” and the answer was “Yes, from the 17th or even earlier. But there are no Houses that are older than 14/18 as a lot has been destroyed” (meant is the first world-war from 1914-1918). So, well, yes.
All in all, I wouldn’t join this basic City Tour in St. Gallen again, as it’s in my eyes just too expensive. But maybe a themed Tour, like the Tour in winter during the big Christmas Market, is more worth the money. At least you get a discount on visiting the world-famous Abbey Library, so it will be just 8 CHF instead of 12 CHF when joining such a Guided Tour.
See now a few Pictures that I took during my Guided City Tour in St. Gallen, more Pictures of St. Gallen will follow in other Articles and my Travel Diary.