Last Saturday afternoon Martin and I took the train to St. Gallen, the largest city in NE Switzerland. St. Gallen originated in 613 when an Irish monk, Gallus, chose the site for his hermitage. The Benedictine Abbey of St. Gall was founded there in 747 and when its library was established in the 9th century, St. Gallen became an academic and cultural center. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site. By the Middle Ages, the city was also well known for the production of fine linens and textiles and it continues to be a provider of exquisite fabric and embroidery today.
Since Martin was scheduled to throw the shot put at the Swiss Indoor Track & Field Championships early Saturday evening, we left Zürich several hours early so we could walk around the town and visit the abbey library, the Stiftsbibliothek. The library is an amazing wood-paneled with wall-to-wall books. We slipped on a felt slippers so we could glide across the wood floor without leaving marks. In my case, this meant a lot of shuffling as the slippers were one size fits all (large) feet. Unfortunately photography is not permitted within the library, so you’ll have to click here for all of Google’s images. We looked through the exhibit on medieval liturgical music and I know why the monks were so busy. The calligraphic work was amazingly beautiful. And, along with the exhibit, the Abbey is hosting a concert series through November 2011 with many concerts featuring the Abbey’s organ.
While Martin’s competition didn’t go as well as he hoped, we still enjoyed sunny St. Gallen. I am already planning a return trip to explore the textile museum, fabric shop, and a Mexican restaurant that was unfortunately too busy to seat two starving Americans sans reservations.