Abbey of Saint Gall

Welcome to Rome Across Europe!

It’s time to take a look at another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Last week we were in Hispania, more specifically Portugal, as we visited the Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture.

Today we’re headed to Switzerland as we check out the Abbey of Saint Gall!

The Abbey of Saint Gall is located in the town of St. Gallen in the north-eastern part of Switzerland, and largely owes its present appearance to the construction campaigns of the 18th Century. It is an impressive architectural ensemble comprising different buildings regrouped around the main square of the abbey: The west side includes the ancient abbatial church (the present cathedral), flanked by two towers and the ancient cloister, which today houses the abbatial Library; located on the east side is the “Neue Pfalz”, the present seat of the canton authorities.

The northern part of the square is composed of buildings of the 19th Century: the ancient arsenal, the Children’s and Guardian Angels’ Chapel and the former Catholic school.

The Abbey of St Gall is an outstanding example of a large Carolingian monastery and was, since the 8th Century until its secularization in 1805, one of the most important cultural centers in Europe. It represents 1200 years of history of monastic architecture and is a typical and outstanding ensemble of a large Benedictine convent.

Almost all the important architectural periods, from High Middle Ages to historicism, are represented in an exemplary fashion. Despite the diversity of styles, the conventional ensemble gives the impression of overall unity, bordered on the north and to the west by edifices of the town of St Gall that are, for the most part, intact.

The High Baroque library represents one of the most beautiful examples of its era, and the present cathedral is one of the last monumental constructions of Baroque abbatial churches in the West. In addition to the architectural substance, the inestimable cultural values conserved at the Abbey are of exceptional importance, notably: the Irish manuscripts of the 7th and 8th Centuries, the illuminated manuscripts of the St Gall School of the 9th and 11th  Centuries, documents concerning the history of the origins of Alemannic Switzerland as well as the layout of the convent during the Carolingian Era (the only manuscript plan of that time remaining worldwide, conserved in its original state, representing a concept of monastic organisation of the Benedictine order).

How This Relates to Rome:

One of the most important tribal groups in the Swiss region was the Helvetii. Steadily harassed by the Germanic tribes, in 58 BC the Helvetii decided to abandon the Swiss Plateau and migrate to western Gallia, but Julius Caesar‘s Legions pursued and defeated them at the Battle of Bibracte, in today’s eastern France, forcing the tribe to move back to its original homeland.

In 15 BC, Tiberius, who was destined to be the 2nd Roman Emperor and his brother, Drusus, conquered the Alps, integrating them into the Roman Empire. The area occupied by the Helvetii—the namesakes of the later Confoederatio Helvetica—initially became part of Rome’s Gallia Belgica province and then of its Germania Superior province, while the eastern portion of modern Switzerland was integrated into the Roman province of Raetia.

Sometime around the start of the Common Era, the Romans maintained a large military camp called Vindonissa, now a ruin at the confluence of the Aare and Reuss rivers, near the town of Windisch, an outskirt of Brugg.

We hope you enjoyed today’s adventure. Thanks for stopping by and we hope  you check us out again soon.

Till next time, Don’t Stop Rome-ing!

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