General Information and history
The city of Aarau, named after the river Aare, above which it is situated, was founded nearly 750 years ago by the counts of Kyburg. Enlarged by the Habsburgs, it became a Bernese municipality in 1415. Almost four centuries of peaceful life were to follow. During this time, municipal rights and markets privileges allowed the citizens and craftsmen to gain wealth and prosperity. Still today, the artistically decorated gables (mainly on Rathausgasse), which have earned Aarau the title of "city of beautiful gables", bear witness to that period.
In the year of 1798, Aarau went down in history, being chosen as the capital of the Helvetic Republic. Even though the era of magnificence was to last but a few months, it left visible architectural traces, such as the broad avenue called "Laurenzenvorstadt" (conceived to serve as a diplomatic and government quarter). Since 1798 Aarau has been the capital of the canton Aargau, whose territory was enlarged in 1803. Surrounded by the garden district to the south and by the modern "Telli" district, the city`s historical centre remains its focal point. Aarau takes great care of its ancient heritage: the closed row of houses on "Halde" has been listed in the Inventory of sites to be protected in Switzerland. The oldest building, "Schlössli" (an ancient medival fortress and residential tower), houses a local heritage museum, which paints a lively picture of several centuries of small-town life.
Thanks to its function on a cantonal level, the city has become an educational centre, providing a variety of training facilities for the region and for the whole country, such as the schools for cadre training in nursing professions or for specialists in the tourist industry. Aarau also plays an important part as a shopping centre for its agglomeration including nearly 80000 inhabitants, and offers around 20000 jobs in industry and the services sector. A wide range of sporting and cultural activities taking place in open air facilities, on stage or in the museums guarantee genuine quality of life to inhabitants and visitors alike.
On Aarau`s calendar of events, two special local celebrations stand out: the "Maienzug" on the first Friday of July, and the "Bachfischet" in September. Although it fully comes up to the demands made on a modern regional centre situated on the Swiss Plateau. Aarau has preserved its unique character. The surrounding countryside is only a few minutes away from any district, be it the banks of the Aare, the forests spreading north and south of the residential areas, or the "Roggenhaus" game park, a very popular place for excursions. Its public transport facilities ( with direct train connections by TGV to Paris and to Vienna ) and the A1 motorway nearby make Aarau easy to reach and thus ideal for conferences or meetings.
Aargauer Kunsthaus (Art Museum)
Valuable collection of Swiss art from the 18th century until today. Changing exhibitions on different topics. Please have a look at the local newspapers.
In the oldest building of the city of Aarau, the romantic Aarau castle, you will see and feel the past days of this city. You can discover old living-rooms, kitchen, transport vehicles, handicrafts, weapons and much more.
Places to visit
Stroll the Old Town of the city of Aarau and discover the mostly Gothic buildings or the medieval fortifications of the city. The Old Town is also a paradise for a shopping tour with a wide variety of offers. Ask at the tourist office for a sightseeing map. All sights are easily reachable within an hour or less.
The "Oberer Turm" (City Tower)
The city tower of Aarau was built in the 13th century and was enhanced in the 16th century as a fortification. The bottom floors were used as prisons and were in use until 1876. The tower (61.24 metres in lenght) is the highest in Switzerland. The tower clock was built in 1532.