Apr 4, 2020 - 7:37 AM
On a bright and warm day in September 2019 I have visited the charming town of Aarau, in the Canton Aargau. I arrived by train from Basel on my way to Zurich. Since 2010 the largest (railway station) clock of Switzerland hangs on the exterior wall of the building: the clock face has a diameter of nine metres… On the station square bright red folding seats are placed, which have when closed the shape of a tulip: it shows the alliance of Aarau with its twin-city Delft in the Netherlands! I went by foot from the station of Aarau to the old city centre.
Aarau has been founded in the early 13th century on a rock above the river Aare. The town still has a medieval structure: around the main streets which cross each other four quarters have been built (the so-called “Stöcke”). A ring of streets has been built around the quarters. Most buildings in the inner city have all been built in the 16th and 17th century in late gothic style. An architectural peculiarity are the roofs: they are shaped as “Ründe” (“rounds”) or arched gables with large roof extensions. These ceilings, the so-called “Dachhimmel”, are adorned with beautifully decorated bottom sides – that’s why Aarau is called the “City with the beautiful ceilings”. The paintings have floral, geometrical and allegorical images.
The City Hall, Rathaus, is also an eyecatcher with its stepped gable, a lovely clock under the roof-ridge and at each window planters with colourful geraniums. In the 1950s a large wing has been added to the oldest part (from the16th century).
Another particularity of Aarau is the city’s stream. The river Aare flows past the city, but the city in its high position needed to have its own water supply. Therefore an artificial stream has been dug out. Now it flows through the street, mostly in gullies which are covered with plates, but a. o. at the square in front of the City Hall it flows above ground. There is a yearly tradition, that has been kept alive for 150 years: the so-called “Bachfichet”: the “inauguration” of the stream after the yearly clean-up in September (I just missed it). Nowadays it is done by the municipal cleansing department. In the evening schoolchildren with nicely decorated lampoons will pick up the first water that flows through the clean bed, at the city boundary and accompany the water through the whole town to where it flows into the Aare. Another important water supply has been the Fountain of Justice (Brunnen der Gerechtigkeit) with an allegorical representation of “Justice” with blindfold, sword and scales. In 1905 it has been moved from a central location in the old city centre to a point close to the listed Stadtkirche church, built 1471–1478 and completely restored in the 1960s. From the square there is a wonderful and unobstructed view to the Jura mountain range towards the west.
I spent only a few hours in Aarau, but I loved this town with its lively atmosphere. I can highly recommend a visit!
General information on Aarau and surroundings: www.myswitzerland.com/en/destinations/aarau