22 April 2007

Baroque Painted Ladies of Aarau

On Thursday afternoon I caught the train from Zürich to Aarau in Canton Aargau. I had been invited to visit the Kantonalbibliothek (Canton Library) to discuss Swiss public libraries and share information about US public libraries.

I decided to go early to have a look about the city and get a bite of lunch.

Aarau is situated in the foothills of the Jura mountains. As is typical of Switzerland, there are beautiful vistas every direction you look.

Again, you find the typical old town. Very charming and, of course, clean. It could be any other smallish Swiss city we have visited. The architecture is mostly Baroque and is well-maintained. Indeed, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about the city.

Until you look up...

And you see row after row of beautifully and intricately painted gable roofs. Once you see them, you tend to stare directly up.

Which can be a bit dangerous as unlike many Swiss towns, cars are allowed to drive throughout the Old City and drivers perhaps are not expecting strange tourists to stand in the middle of the road and stare!

Aarau is unique for one other reason as well. They have the most complicated intersection in all of Switzerland. I'm not certain how many roads converge at that point. But when I walked through it appeared to be at least 6, perhaps more.

In fact, the intersection is so complicated that it does not have traffic lights. Instead, a police officer is in a tall stand in the middle of the intersection directing traffic.

Unfortunately it didn't occur to me to take a picture until it was too late and I had to run to catch the train. But I stood and watched him for a while. His movements were as graceful as a Orchestra Director.


Expat Traveler said...

Aarau is a great little town! I used to bike here a lot with my friend from Lenzberg which is where I was living for about 3 months.

It's a nice trek and it's a lot of fun to go shopping there. And you are so right, the roof are amazing...

Why didn't I take any pics of it I wonder? I think it was my camera at times...

I should try finding a pic or two of me.

did you take the first pic up near a small park?

Aarau is home to some of the best hamburgers in town.

It's near the incredible roofs. I'll have to ask pflight2000 for the name of the restaurant if you want to go back and experience a good burger...


Expat Traveler said...

ps that intersection is a riot! And it is actually known as the craziest intersection around. I know it's near a outdoor store we used to visit.

swissmiss said...

How funny I just recommended Aarau to Jessica - lovely little old town!

robyn said...

Aarau has the best hamburgers? Really? Where? Personally, I would thoroughly recommend Gossip (cafe) for a coffee, and Caminos (restaurant) for lunch. And in a bit of blatant self-promotion, here is the intersection of note (http://rswb.blogspot.com/2007/03/big-city-life.html) and here is another highlight of Aarau, the statues (http://rswb.blogspot.com/2007/01/what-swiss-believe-in-part-1.html)