|St Gallen : visiting the city|
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St Gallen’s Old Town is roughly circular, crossed by the main pedestrian streets of Vadianstrasse/Multergasse leading east from the station, and Marktgasse running south from Marktplatz, a hub for buses and shoppers. Dominating the town is the cathedral, its twin towers visible from most points. The attractive alleys and streets all around are characterized by exactly 111 elaborate oriels, orsmall projecting bay windows, most of which are younger than the houses to which they’re attached – a fashion for them in the early eighteenth century meant that many were carved from wood, painted, and then stuck onto the stone facade to satisfy the whim of the nouveau-riche merchant who lived within. Some of the most remarkable can be found at Schmiedgasse 15 (House of the Pelican) and 21 (House of Strength); Kugelgasse 8 (House of the Ball) and 10 (House of the Swan); Hinterlauben 10 (House of the Deep Cellar); and Spisergasse 22 (the Camel Oriel). Along Gallusstrasse you’ll also come across a wealth of architectural styles in the space of a few metres: half-timbered cottages from the Middle Ages rub shoulders with Baroque townhouses and grand dwellings put up during St Gallen’s golden age of textile production in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Textilmuseum, Vadianstrasse 2 (April–Oct Mon–Sat 10am–noon & 2–5pm; Nov–March Mon–Fri 10am–noon & 2–5pm; Fr.5; SMP), has an interesting and well-presented collection, focusing on hand-made embroidery and lace from St Gallen and around the world, along with useful explanations of the growth and decline in the industry.
The tall, steepled St-Laurenzenkirche on Marktgasse (Mon–Fri 9.30–11.30am & 2–4pm) dates from the ninth century, and originally stood within the monastic enclosure of the cathedral and abbey. Entirely renovated in Neo-Gothic style in the mid-nineteenth century, and restored in the 1970s according to the 1845 plans, it has a narrow but lofty nave flanked by Gothic pointed side arches.
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