Solothurn, Switzerland

Solothurn (pop. 16,777) is a town, a municipality, and the capital of the canton of Solothurn in Switzerland. It is located in the northwest of Switzerland on the banks of the Aare and on the foot of the Weissenstein Jura mountains.

The town is the only municipality of the district of the same name.

The town got its name from Salodurum, a Roman-era settlement. From 1530 to 1792 it was the seat of the French ambassador to Switzerland. The pedestrian-only old town was built between 1530 and 1792 and shows an impressive array of Baroque architecture, combining Italian Grandezza, French style, and Swiss ideas. The town has eighteen structures listed as heritage sites.

The official language of Solothurn is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

Solothurn is said to be the most beautiful baroque city in Switzerland. The imposing buildings were constructed in various epochs: ranging from the first half of the 12th century, when the clock tower was built, to 1773, when St. Ursus Cathedral was constructed in baroque and neo-classical style.

St. Ursus Cathedral is Solothurn’s main attraction. It is the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Basel in Solothurn.

St. Ursus Cathedral is considered the most significant Swiss building from the early neoclassical period, and was constructed using light-colored Solothurn marble. The cathedral is also full of Solothurn’s magic number 11: three sets of 11 imposing steps lead up to the cathedral; inside, the cathedral has 11 altars; and the tower is 66 m tall (6 x 11) and has 11 bells.

The third complete reconstruction of the cathedral took place from 1762 to 1773 according to a design by Gaetano Matteo Pisoni from Ascona – lasting exactly 11 years. Pisoni’s nephew, Paolo Antonio Pisoni, managed the later years of the construction. Eleven bells from the Kaiser foundry in Solothurn (1764–1768) hang behind large acoustic openings. The high altar by Carlo Luca Pozzi echoes the form of a sarcophagus. The cathedral treasure is stored on the ground floor of the tower.


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