Eudora Zapata

Eudora Zapata

Modified & Updated: 11 Oct 2023


When it comes to historic landmarks, St. Gallen Abbey in Switzerland stands out as an architectural marvel with a rich and intriguing history. This abbey, named after the Irish monk St. Gallus, has been an important cultural and religious center for over a millennium. From its humble beginnings as a hermitage to its prominence as a renowned center of learning, St. Gallen Abbey has witnessed numerous transformations and has played a significant role in shaping the region’s history and culture. Today, the abbey stands as a testament to the architectural prowess of its builders, with its stunning Baroque-style buildings, lavish library, and beautiful cathedral. In this article, we will delve into 15 fascinating facts about St. Gallen Abbey, shedding light on its historical significance and providing a glimpse into its captivating past.

Table of Contents

The St. Gallen Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Recognized for its architectural significance and historical importance, the St. Gallen Abbey has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since It showcases magnificent Baroque and Rococo style buildings dating back to the 18th century.

The abbey was founded in the 8th century.

With a rich history that spans over 1,300 years, the St. Gallen Abbey was originally founded in 719 AD. It was initially established as a hermitage by Saint Otmar and later developed into a renowned Benedictine monastery.

The St. Gallen Abbey Library houses over 170,000 documents.

The library, located within the abbey complex, is home to an extensive collection of manuscripts, incunabula, and early printed books. Among its treasures is the famous St. Gallen Abbey Plan, a medieval architectural drawing of exceptional historical significance.

The library also includes over 2,000 handwritten medieval manuscripts.

These manuscripts provide invaluable insights into medieval literature, theology, and scientific knowledge. Visitors can admire beautifully illuminated manuscripts, some of which date back to the 8th century.

The abbey’s cathedral features stunning Baroque architecture.

The St. Gallen Abbey Cathedral, also known as the Abbey of Saint Gall, boasts breathtaking Baroque interiors with intricate frescoes, stuccos, and ornate decorations. Its beauty and grandeur are a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of the era.

The St. Gallen Abbey has its own choir and choir school.

The abbey is renowned for its exceptional musical traditions. The choir performs liturgical music during religious services and concerts, often showcasing choral masterpieces from centuries past.

The abbey’s scriptorium was a center for medieval manuscript production.

During the Middle Ages, the St. Gallen Abbey’s scriptorium was a hub of scholarly activity. Scribes meticulously copied and adorned manuscripts, contributing to the preservation and dissemination of knowledge.

The abbey has a long-standing association with culture and education.

Throughout its history, the St. Gallen Abbey has been a patron of the arts and a center for learning. It has played a pivotal role in the development of music, literature, and education in the region.

The abbey’s architecture blends Romanesque and Baroque styles.

The abbey complex showcases a harmonious mix of Romanesque and Baroque architectural elements. The Romanesque-style abbey church and the Baroque-style library exemplify the architectural evolution over the centuries.

The St. Gallen Abbey is an important pilgrimage site.

Devotees and tourists from around the world visit the abbey to experience its spiritual ambiance and rich cultural heritage. The abbey’s cathedral and library are major highlights of the pilgrimage route.

The library houses one of the oldest surviving globes.

Within the St. Gallen Abbey Library, there is a remarkable globe known as the “Ebstorf Globus.” Dating back to the 13th century, it is one of the few surviving globes from that era.

The abbey’s stunning rococo-style rocaille stuccowork captivates visitors.

The elaborate and intricately carved rocaille stuccowork found in the abbey’s interiors is a splendid example of the Rococo style. It dazzles visitors with its ornate beauty and craftsmanship.

The library contains an impressive collection of early maps.

Beyond its manuscripts, the St. Gallen Abbey Library houses a remarkable collection of early maps and geographical works. These maps provide valuable insights into the evolving understanding of geography and cartography.

The abbey complex offers stunning panoramic views of the town.

Situated on a hill, the St. Gallen Abbey provides breathtaking views of the surrounding town and landscape. Visitors can enjoy the picturesque scenery while exploring the abbey’s architectural wonders.

The St. Gallen Abbey continues to be an active monastery.

While welcoming visitors and tourists, the St. Gallen Abbey remains a functioning monastery. The Benedictine community still resides in the abbey, following a centuries-old tradition of religious practice and contemplation.


In conclusion, St. Gallen Abbey is a remarkable landmark that holds a rich history and offers a unique cultural experience. From its stunning architecture to its invaluable library collection, every aspect of this abbey is truly fascinating. Visitors can explore the beautifully decorated interiors, stroll through the serene abbey courtyard, and marvel at the intricate details of the library’s manuscripts.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat, St. Gallen Abbey is a must-visit destination. By immersing yourself in the abbey’s centuries-old legacy, you will gain a greater appreciation for the culture and heritage of this region.

Plan your trip to St. Gallen Abbey today and get ready to be captivated by its timeless beauty and cultural significance.


Q: How old is St. Gallen Abbey?

A: St. Gallen Abbey was founded more than 1,300 years ago, in the year 719.

Q: Is it possible to visit the library at St. Gallen Abbey?

A: Yes, visitors can explore the library at St. Gallen Abbey, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, advance bookings may be required, and some areas may have restricted access.

Q: Are there any guided tours available at St. Gallen Abbey?

A: Yes, guided tours are offered at St. Gallen Abbey, providing visitors with in-depth knowledge and insights into the history, architecture, and cultural significance of this landmark.

Q: Can I take photographs inside St. Gallen Abbey?

A: Photography is generally not allowed inside St. Gallen Abbey, especially in sensitive areas such as the library. However, photography may be permitted in certain designated areas. It is advisable to check with the abbey staff for specific guidelines.

Q: Is St. Gallen Abbey accessible to individuals with disabilities?

A: Efforts have been made to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities at St. Gallen Abbey. However, due to the age and historical nature of the site, there may be some limitations. It is recommended to contact the abbey in advance for accessibility-related information and assistance.