As you could recently see on my Facebook or Instastories, I got a voucher from the tourist center of Solothurn for a commented tour of the city. It was a thanks for giving permission to use my photo from Instagram for the city’s promotional materials (hey, who would say no, right ?!)
I took my friend on a tour and we took the afternoon in the city as celebration of our recent birthday. And what cool facts about Solothurn have we learned?
1. The history of Solothurn goes to the ancient Roman times
In the 1st century AD, a settlement Salodurum was established here around the fortified military camp of Roman legionnaires (Castrum). Instead, the Aare River was a link between the Roman settlements of Aventicum (now Avenches) and Augusta Raurica (Augst). Traces of the Roman fortifications are visible on the Friedhofplatz square, where you can see a piece of masonry.
2. Solothurn and wine
For the Romans, the River Aare was an important means of transporting goods. In the Middle Ages, the town of Solothurn had its vineyards in the well-known Lavaux area, and on the river Aare the wine was transported to the city. Right next to the river there was a hospital, and they say patients were given a liter of wine every day. Whether as a painkiller or disinfection, I don´t know. At the beginning of the last century, patients were given a bottle of wine when leaving the hospital.
Apropos wine: On our “Solothurn Day”, we ended up with Sylwia in the Cafébar Barock by the river, where they have a good Pinot Gris 😉
3. Medieval towers have a circular shape
During the Middle Ages, the city gained its fortifications. The circularly shaped towers were built because the walls’ resistance against the cannons of potential enemies was greater than if the walls were straight.
4. You can find faces on the Riedholz tower
When you look closely, you will find the faces on the stones of this tower, located a few dozen meters north of the Basel Gate (Baseltor).
5. In the Middle Ages, the town hall was located in Donkey House, then Donkey Street
In the Middle Ages, the houses had more names than numbers. As you can see, local councilors did not help much in the 15th century by moving to a new location. So they immediately renamed the Donkey Street (Eselgasse) to Town Hall Street (Rathausgasse). However, every year at Fasnacht, in the time of general fun before the time of Lent, the street gets its original name again.
6. In Solothurn, there are five seasons of the year
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Fasnacht.
7. You can find an astronomical clock in Solothurn
At Marktplatz square, you will find Zytglogge, the oldest building in the city. The lower part dates back to the 12th century, astronomical clocks (still mechanically controlled) were added in 1545 (the astronomical clocks in Bern are from 1530, but the astronomical clock in Prague – ahem, sorry for the patriotic insertion – was first installed in 1410!)
8. The St. Ursen Cathedral has 11 bells
And if you get inside the cathedral and step on the eleventh black stone in the middle of the main aisle, you will see all 11 altars out of here.
9. Canton of Solothurn was an eleventh canton that joined the Swiss Confederation
It was in 1481.
10. Over 250 years, Solothurn was the seat of the French ambassadors in Switzerland
This was probably because Solothurn hadn´t suffered a reformation in the 15th century and remained Catholic. This is why the Catholic Ambassadors of the French King elected it as their seat. Today, you will find a French footprint at the Brasserie Federale on Marktplatz (right opposite Zytglogge), on which the French flag flies.
11. The magic number 11
Most lists have a round number of points – 5, 10, 15, 20 … But as you might have learned from previous points, Solothurn´s holy number is 11. In the Middle Ages, there were 11 guilds, 11 bastions on the fortifications, now you can find here 11 fountains, 11 museums, 11 churches and chapels, and even the local brewery is called “Öufi” (in the local dialect 11). And since it seems I can´t come up with the eleventh point for this post, it´s up to you, my dear readers! Feel free to share something interesting about Solothurn! I´m looking for your comments!
PS: The Solothurn Tourist Office offers thematic tours for individuals and groups. You can find them on the website here. I would love to visit the “Savoir vivre” guided tour – with stories about interesting restaurants and bars in this most beautiful Baroque city in Switzerland (btw. is there anyone who would do babysitting for our three children for me to enjoy this tour with my husband?;) )