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Sankt Gallen

Sankt Gallen is one of Switzerland's 26 cantons, found in the northeastern part of the country. Lake Constance borders the canton to the north, and the Rhine Valley to the east, separating it from Austria and Lichtenstein. To the south, Sankt Gallen borders the cantons of Graubünden, Glarus, and Schwyz. To the west of Sankt Gallen is found the canton of Zürich, and to the northwest is the canton of Thurgau. Additionally, Sankt Gallen canton entirely surrounds two half cantons: Appenzell Ausser-Rhoden and Appenzell Inner-Rhoden.[10] Geographically, Sankt Gallen's northern part, in the proximity of Lake Constance, is mainly comprised of lowlands and plains, while further to the south, the mountains gradually rise. The highest peak within Sankt Gallen's borders is Ringelspitz, at an altitude of 3,251 meters above sea level.[2] Apart from several hiking trails in the mountains, tourists tend to visit the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona, protected by UNESCO. Arena Sardona is a relatively unique mountain formation that was raised by continental collision and is now used for geologic research.[8] Historically, the capital city (St. Gallen) and also the canton itself, are named after the Abbey of St. Gall, which was established in the place of the present capital city in the 8th century. Only later, the town built up around the abbey. In current times, The Abbey of St. Gallen and its library are protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.[6] 

What Sankt Gallen is known for

The canton of Sankt Gallen is named after its capital city (St. Gallen) which was raised around the Abbey of St. Gall in the 8th century.[1] The Abbey of St. Gall is nowadays inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, serving as an example of a Carolingian monastery. The cathedral with its library is the main feature of the protected architectural complex which has been in continuous use for 12 centuries. According to the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, St. Gall Abbey was one of Europe's most important cultural centers between the 8th century and the secularisation in 1805. Currently, most architectural periods, from the High Middle Ages to historicism, can be seen by visiting the Abbey of St. Gall. The complex comprises the ancient abbatial church (the present cathedral) and the cloister, which now houses the abbatial Library. On the east side is found the "Neue Pfalz," which serves as a seat of the present canton authorities. The northern part comprises 19th-century buildings, namely the arsenal, the Children's and Guardian Angels' Chapel, and the former Catholic school.[6]

Part of the Abbey of St. Gall UNESCO World Heritage Site is represented by the library, one of the oldest libraries in the world. The book collection illustrates the development of European culture from the 8th century, when the abbey was established, until the 19th century. Due to the extensive historical heritage, it is estimated that over 150,000 people visit the library annually. In today's time, St. Gall Library serves as a research library focusing on the Middle Ages. Apart from being part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Abbey Library and Abbey Archives were granted the status of "Memory of the World," as the local collections date back over 1,300 years without interruption.[7]

Beyond the considerable historical heritage, one can enjoy natural and outdoor activities in the canton of Sankt Gallen. The local landscape varies, with Lake Constance to the north, offering a variety of water activities, to the mountainous southern part. One of the reportedly popular hiking trails among outdoor recreation enthusiasts is the "Pizol - Wildsee - Schottensee - Schwarzsee - Rossstall - Baschalvasee - Gaffia," which is a point-to-point walking trail, leading past the lakes of Wildsee, Schottensee, Schwarzsee, and Baschalvasee. Another hike is the "Säntis - Schwägalp," leading hikers to the Säntis, which is Alpstein's highest peak, providing panoramic views of the surrounding nature. Apart from hiking, several ski centers are also within Sankt Gallen's borders.[4]

Concerning natural landmarks in the Sankt Gallen territory, there is the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona. The mountain formation is protected by UNESCO due to its unique origin, as it was raised when Africa and Europe collided. The area is the point of geologic research, as some of the local ancient stone formations overlie others, possibly millions of years younger.[8] Nowadays, the Sardona area serves as one of the tourist destinations, with numerous hiking trails and opportunities to engage in recreation year-round.[9] 


Sankt Gallen canton is found in northeastern Switzerland, bounded by Lake Constance to the north and the Rhine valley to the east. The canton itself surrounds two half cantons: Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden. In terms of topography, the southern part of the territory—near Lake Constance and the river Rhine—is of plain, lowland character. Towards the south is the more mountainous local landscape, slowly transferring into the Alps (Appenzell Alps and Glarus Alps). The highest mountain located within Sankt Gallen borders is the Ringelspitz, at an altitude of 3,251 meters above sea level. Additionally, the hills of the canton also include part of a thrust fault protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site under the name Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona. Concerning the water conditions of Sankt Gallen, the predominant rivers are Rhine, Thur, Linth, and Seez. Some of the lakes that are partially located within the canton's borders are Constance, Walensee, and the lake of Zürich.[2]

Regarding nature, approximately one-third of the canton's grounds are covered by forests, while one-half is used for farming.[2] There is a considerable number of different species inhabiting either the local forests, plains, or even mountainous areas. Lower elevations are home to oak, tilia, and Norway spruce, while higher altitudes contain sycamore maple, silver fir, and European beech. Some of the flower species found in the territory are meadow sage, butterfly bush, common cornflower, germander speedwell, white clover, and common yarrow, among various others. Concerning animal species, western roe deer are fairly abundant on the grounds of Sankt Gallen. Additionally, red foxes, red deer, northern chamois, Alpine ibex, alpine marmot, Eurasian stoat, brown hare, and Eurasian red squirrel can be encountered in Sankt Gallen as well. To name several species inhabiting the considerable number of aquatic landforms that can be found in Sankt Gallen's borders, there are ducks, house sparrows, Eurasian marsh-harrier, white storks, golden eagles, and great cormorants.[4]

Concerning the average temperatures in Sankt Gallen canton's capital, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 22°C. January is the coldest month, with 3°C being the average temperature. February tends to be the driest month in St. Gallen due to having 65 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving about 187 mm on average.[5]


Sankt Gallen was created by Napoleon Bonaparte by uniting several historical regions in 1803.[2] The city of St. Gallen formed around the Abbey of St. Gall circa the 8th century. Over the years, the abbey prospered. Eventually, in the 9th century, it became a pilgrimage site and a trade center. There were several guest houses, stables, a hospital, and one of the first monastery schools to the north of the Alps. However, in 926, the abbey and the surrounding town were attacked by Magyar raiders. The following year, a fire destroyed part of the abbey, spreading to the surrounding settlement as well. To protect the site from further damage, a wall was built around the abbey in 975. Gradually, the surrounding village slowly grew into the town of St. Gallen. The city eventually gained its independence from the abbey in the 15th century.[1] 

After losing its power over the city of St. Gallen, the Abbey of St. Gall gained control over Toggenburg and became an associate of the Old Swiss Confederacy. While being part of the Helvetic Republic, the northern parts of the Sankt Gallen, as we know it today, became part of the Säntis, while its southern parts became part of the canton of Linth. However, Linth and Säntis experienced financial problems, leading to the abbey's secularization. Thus, there was unrest in the area. Later, in 1803, the region joined the Swiss Confederation as the Canton of St. Gallen.[2] The local population was at that time heterogeneous in terms of values. Thus, the matters of church, marriage, and schools were decided by the Catholic and a Reformed Great Council, which worked as an addition to the general legislative exercised by the Great Council. In 1831, a democratic constitution was created, introducing what was known as the "people's veto." The "people's veto" was then replaced by the optional referendum. Notable rights were introduced through the Constitution of 1890 such as the people's right to propose laws, the facilitation of referendums, and the popular government election. The last revision of the constitution took place in 2001.[3]