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Insider Guide for Fashion Enthusiasts to the Swiss Embroidery Capital: St. Gallen

Insider Guide for Fashion Enthusiasts to the Swiss Embroidery Capital: St. Gallen

As a textile and nature enthusiast, always on the lookout for inspiration and history related to my fashion passion, what could be more fitting than a visit to the fairytale city of St. Gallen? A visit to this enchanting city is worthwhile all year round. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and boasting a long tradition of exquisite embroidery, which can be admired at the Textile Museum St. Gallen, it is only an hour away from Zurich.

What to see

St. Gallen was once known as the world capital of embroidery, with centuries-old textile houses like Forster Rohner, Bischoff, and Jakob Schlaepfer supplying lace throughout Europe, and the invention of the embroidery machine here in the early 1900s. Additionally, the baroque town nestled between Lake Constance and the Swiss Alps holds a rich heritage of craftsmanship, design, architecture, gastronomy, and culture. In the cobblestone streets lined with houses adorned with turrets and shutters, and tall, ancient trees, visitors discover a world of gilded medieval libraries, folk archives, and Rococo cathedrals. With its unique, untouched charm, St. Gallen attracts artists seeking a more rural, design-oriented lifestyle. Whether you want to explore the culinary scene or admire the charming architecture, a trip to St. Gallen should be on your radar - here is our insider selection of highlights you shouldn't miss on our weekend trip to St. Gallen:

Textile Museum St. Gallen

The Textile Museum St. Gallen houses one of Switzerland's most significant textile collections. Fabrics and embroideries from around the world, pattern books, design drawings, and photographs illustrate the fortunes of the Swiss textile industry between regional ties and international connections. It hosts two to three special exhibitions per year, complementing the permanent exhibition on the textile history of Eastern Switzerland thematically. A diverse program of events, educational activities, and an attractive shop complement the offerings of the Textile Museum.

Currently, a visit to the special exhibition "Akris, St. Gallen Naturally" (06.10.2023 – 10.03.2024) is worthwhile, dedicated to the fashion house Akris, which celebrates its hundredth anniversary next year. Originally founded by Alice Kriemler-Schoch as a studio for embroidered aprons, the family-owned and operated brand is now one of the most respected houses in the industry. Creative director Albert Kriemler, Kriemler-Schoch's grandson, was so inspired by his hometown that he dedicated his AW21 collection to the region - the result is a collection full of locally sewn, tailored embroideries and even an elaborate reproduction of the city map incorporated into dresses, skirts, and jackets.

Abbey Library

Begin your journey with a visit to the Abbey Library, with its magnificent, dreamy hall lined with leather-bound books under a frescoed ceiling, belonging to the UNESCO World Heritage. This library houses an impressive collection of over 170,000 books, including some very old and valuable copies. The inscription above the entrance reads ΨYXHΣ IATPEION, which roughly translates to "healing place for the soul," and anyone who has ever lost themselves in a good book can attest to this.

Art Museum

There is also the St. Gallen Art Museum, curated by Gianni Jetzer. With its attractive rotating exhibitions of contemporary and modern art, the St. Gallen Art Museum enjoys international recognition. As the treasure trove of Eastern Switzerland, the museum houses a rich collection of paintings and sculptures from the late Middle Ages to the present day, displayed in a permanent exhibition.

Old Town

Stroll through the charming Old Town of St. Gallen and discover the narrow streets, historic buildings, and cozy cafes. Here you will also find many shops where you can buy local products and handicrafts.

Nature Experience at Drei Weieren

If you enjoy being in nature, be sure to take a trip to the Drei Weieren. These three idyllic lakes are just a few kilometers outside the city and offer the perfect setting for a leisurely walk or a picnic.

Art House Cinema Kinok in the Lokremise

Founded in 1985 and its weekly themes curated by Sandra Meier, Kinok is the largest and most important art house cinema in Eastern Switzerland.

Kinok promotes understanding of film as an art form and presents the diversity of filmmaking. All formats and genres are screened; the focus is on formally and thematically innovative works.

Cable Car Ride to Säntis

For those who want to escape the city, a 10-minute cable car ride to Säntis, at 2502 m above sea level, the highest peak of the Alpstein massif, offers views of Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France, and Italy. Perhaps you'll be lucky enough to spot some wildlife on the ride.

Three Weieren Bathing Lake

Or enjoy yourself at the Three Weieren, a bathing lake with traditional wooden bathing facilities. Originally used for the city's textile industry water supply, the ponds have been a popular excursion destination since the 18th century - in summer, a "bathing bus" runs daily from the marketplace.

Where to eat

Similar to the textile industry, the food here is handmade, authentic, and never overdone. Many recipes have been passed down through generations, if not centuries, within families, resulting in refined dishes that rely on trusted local ingredients. One dish you must try is the St. Gallen bratwurst. It dates back to the Middle Ages and is a veal sausage cooked with bacon, spices, and fresh milk; every butcher in the city has their version, and the exact blend and method are closely guarded secrets. Although it's impossible to choose the best one, the offering from Gemperli Butcher on Schmiedgasse is highly regarded in the region and a good introduction to this specialty.

Other culinary highlights include the chocolates from Praliné Scherrer, served in custom versions at Akris shows.

And for the best table in town, a reservation at Einstein Gourmet is a must, where chef Sebastian Zier has received two Michelin stars for his French-inspired haute cuisine.

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