Solothurn, on the River Aare at the south foot of the Jura mountain range, is also known as St. Ursen City, Wengi City, the City of Ambassadors, Switzerland's most beautiful baroque city and the city of culture.
The name "St.Ursen City" recalls the legend of the two Roman legionnaires, Urs and Victor, who were beheaded in Solothurn due to their Christian beliefs. In honour of their martyrdom and the associated miracles, both were declared city saints. St. Ursen Cathedral dominates the city skyline and is its emblem.
Solothurn's history dates back to Roman times. As early as 350 BC the Romans built their "Castrum Salodurum", a bell-shaped walled fort. The remains can still be seen at Friedhofplatz and in Löwengasse.
Schultheiss Wengi prevented a religious civil war in 1533 by setting up canons aimed at the Protestants on the opposite bank of the Aare and declaring: "If the blood of citizens must flow, let mine be the first." Solothurn remained Catholic following the Protestant reformation.
City of Ambassadors. From 1530 to 1792 Solothurn was the seat of the French ambassadors to the Swiss Confederation. This epoch has endowed Solothurn with its splendid baroque architecture : Besenval Palace, Waldegg Castle and numerous patrician mansions and manors built in the French baroque style.