Solothurn is one of Switzerland's 26 cantons. Found in the northwestern part of the country, the canton is bordered by the cantons of Bern to the southwest, Jura to the west, Aargau to the east, and Basel-Landschaft to the north. There are two exclaves, which governmentally belong to the Solothurn canton, even though they are separated from the canton's central land by the canton of Basel-Landschaft. Those two exclaves form a state border with France to the north. In terms of geographical conditions, the area is drained by the Aare River, which created a local landscape of relatively flat and plain character. However, the foothills of the Jura mountains protrude through the canton's borders. One predominant mountain is Weissenstein, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding nature and the Bernese Alps. The capital city, also named Solothurn, serves as a touristic destination, specifically among tourists seeking historical landmarks, as several museums, palaces, and churches can be found in the city. Solothurn city is known for its connection to the number 11. There are 11 museums, 11 fountains, 11 chapels, 11 churches, and a clock with a dial showing only 11 hours. Additionally, there are numerous references to number 11 in the design and construction of the Solothurn cathedral.
Solothurn Canton's name comes from its capital city, also named Solothurn, found in the southern part of the region. The capital city's old town serves as a historical site, as there are several landmarks and museums. Solothurn's skyline is dominated by the St. Ursenkathedrale (Solothurn Cathedral), with the tower offering panoramic views of the surrounding town, river valley, and Jura mountains. On a clear day, it's also possible to view the Alps. Additionally, tourists can visit the Clock Tower, the oldest building in the city. The astronomical clock features a statement in Latin, which can be translated as "no older city in Gaul than Solothurn, except Trier," meaning Solothurn is one of the oldest towns in the region. Solothurn used to have fortifications, which remains can be seen to this day, called the Bastion, with a park where visitors can walk along or below the historical walls. Regarding the local museums, there is the Solothurn Natural History Museum, Solothurn Art Museum, and Old Arsenal Museum. Nearby the city center is Schloss Blumenstein, a palace that hosts a historical museum. Another palace in the old town's vicinity is Schloss Waldegg, which serves as a museum commemorating Solothurn's aristocracy dating from the 17th to 19th century.
Beyond the historical heritage of the capital city, there are also several outdoor nature options. River Aare cuts directly through the town, providing swimming opportunities, with several bars open on the Solothurn Riviera. There are also various hiking options in Solothurn's vicinity. The city is part of the Jura Crest Trail, a 16-17 days long hike from Dielsdorf to Nyon on Lake Geneva. The second option is a round trip from Solothurn through the Verena Gorge. Another outdoor destination in Solothurn Canton is Weissenstein, a local mountain offering panoramic views and a relatively large amount of outdoor activities. A cable car takes tourists to the mountain top at an altitude of 1,280 meters above sea level. From the top, it is possible to see the Alpine mountains, such as Säntis or Mont Blanc. There are also several restaurants, a planet trail hike teaching tourists about the universe's origin, and a Jura garden, which houses around 200 plant species.
Solothurn, covering an area of 791 kilometers squared, is found in northwest Switzerland. The canton is of relatively irregular shape, with two exclaves found at the French borders. The Solothurn exclaves are separated from the rest of the canton by the Basel-Landschaft. Solothurn’s landscape is primarily flat, with Jura Mountain's foothills protruding to the canton’s territory. Part of the local mountain range is the peak Weissenstein, which overlooks Solothurn and the Mittelland and offers views of the Bernese Alps. The predominant water flow is river Aare, which formed the flat lands that cover most of the region.
Within the canton’s borders, in its central part, is located the Nature Park Thal. The nature park features a variety of flora and fauna indigenous to the Jurassic Mountains. The variety of landscapes provided by the protected area offers Thal's visitors a considerable number of outdoor activities, namely hiking or biking. There are also several theme trails found in the park. The local landscape comprises incised valleys and hill ranges of the second and third "Jura chains," which tend to be covered by forests. Several endangered species, including the rock mustard, the Grenoble pink, the woodlark, the capercaillie, the yellow-ringed butterfly, the lynx, the Jura viper, and the notched Jura hair snail, can be encountered within the Thal Naturpark borders as well.
Regarding Solothurn’s climate, the four seasons tend to alter in the area during the year, which is typical for Central Europe. However, the nearby Jura Mountains are relatively colder than the rest of the valley, with snow covering the hills during the early spring as well. Concerning the average temperatures in Solothurn city, the warmest month is July, with an average daily temperature of 25°C. January is the coldest month, with 4°C being the average temperature. February tends to be the driest month in Solothurn due to having 54 mm of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during August, receiving an average of about 117 mm annually.
The earliest finds in the Solothurn Territory date back to the Paleolithic era, when the area of today’s Solothurn, the city, was inhabited. In 1986, the remains of the Mesolithic camp were discovered, and later, Neolithic, Bronze, and Iron Age relics were found in the territory as well. Around 15-25 AD, the road station and a bridge was built by Romans in the Solothurn Territory. The first written mention of the city dates back to 219 as “Vico salod[uro].” The name presumably indicates that the Celtic settlement was also located in the territory.
The canton’s territory comprises land that was acquired by the former Solothurn town, mainly during the Middle Ages. Presumably, for those reasons, the shape of the Solothurn Canton as we know it today is primarily irregular, including two exclaves found near the French borders. In 1481, Solothurn became part of the Old Swiss Confederation. Concerning religion, despite the Reformation, the canton remained primarily Catholic. After 1798, Solothurn became part of the Helvetic Republic. However, it lasted only until 1803, when the canton became one of the 19 cantons comprising the Swiss Confederation, resulting from Napoleon’s Act of Mediation. Later, Solothurn approved its constitution in 1848.
For most of its history, Solothurn’s economy was mainly based on agriculture and was predominantly pastoral. Those branches are still of importance for the canton, as a considerable number of inhabitants are engaged in food processing. The other significant additions include the manufacture of machinery, metal products, precision instruments, watches, and paper. There is also a nuclear power plant, operating since 1979. In terms of population, Solothurn people are primarily German, with approximately two-thirds being Roman Catholic and one-third being Protestant.
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