The establishment of the St Gallen Abbey was the catalyst that led to the establishment of a town. Even though the abbey is now a cathedral and there are no more monks in St Gallen, the town that was built around the abbey still remains and funnily enough it is shaped almost in a heart shape around the abbey, adding even more of a literary touch to being the metaphorical heartbeat of the city.
Perhaps the one that that really struck me about St Gallen’s Old Town, and why it deserves a post of its own, it just how different it looks from Zurich’s old town (Aldstadt). There was less colour and vibrancy, what it did have was more calm and serenity, the buildings were built in a very German way, precise and pointed.
Or maybe it was because the people visiting had grey hair. But the town was not old, it couldn’t be, not when it is today practically a university town, where were the young people?
The sun was beginning to set as I walked out of the old town to meet some friends for dinner. People had finally appeared, these people clearly still weren’t students, they looked too old.
People had come out to play. And it was now that art and vibrancy appeared, history was set aside temporarily, art and culture had come to the fore.
I walked past a street and was arrested by a road painted in red. It was clearly not just for walking – it was a Red Square, a city lounge designed as a space for people to sit, mingle and relax. According to the description of the lounge, “during the day, children use the unusual city landscape for play while the employees from the surrounding businesses take breaks on the comfortable seating. In the evening, lighting elements which hang above the square like floating boulders light the scene and draw the young and young at heart into their light.” It was an amazingly creative idea, although I’m not sure how successful it is considering vehicles continued to drive through it.
The new, modern part of town that had developed around the old town felt almost like Winterthur, small, compact but with everything that you’d need in a city.
I still hadn’t found the students though.
The sun had set by the time we were done with dinner and we decided to go check out the town after dark, that’s where there’s life said our local guide. If grey haired people were walking around the city in the day and auburn grey haired people came out in the evening, the dark haired youth came out at night.
Pubs, clubs, nightclubs and the streets – the students had come out, dressed to the nines. The young men in cool suits ready to impresses and the young women in beautiful dresses ready to attract. We left the young people to their devices and walked back towards the old town.
It was at the old town late in the night, that we saw even younger teenagers hanging out. As day turned to night, the hair colour of the people in the town turned darker to, this truly was a university city.
ON THE MAP