You can start the virtual stroll at the place of your choice by selecting a key location from the list below.
Altes Zeughaus
The old arsenal was built between 1609 and 1614 and served as a depot for the personal military equipment of the citizens of Solothurn and as a storehouse of weapons and armour for mercenaries. From the 18th century onwards, it was used as a museum, with an exhibition of armour and booty. Completely converted into a museum in 1907, the building was transformed and totally renovated from 2014 to 2016.
Barfüssergasse (1)
Here Barfüssergasse turns right after the Franciscan church before turning again further to reach the Märetplatz (Market Square). Behind us, Rathausgasse leads to the town hall and the former arsenal.
Barfüssergasse (2)
Here Barfüssergasse turns left and you can see the clock tower of the Market Square (Märetplatz) in the distance. This is where our virtual stroll takes you now. (Continuing straight ahead, the Weberngasse takes you to St Urbangasse, which runs along the edge of the old town).
Baseltor
East of town, we enter the old city via the Baseltor, built in 1504 of Solothurn stone (Jura limestone) to replace the Eichtor, which was still made of wood. Our view is directed towards Hauptgasse, the main street of the old town. Behind us, Bastionweg leads up to the Riedholz Tower.
Bastionweg (1)
Here we are at the foot of the path up to the tower, with the bastion and a watchtower on the right, and the Art Museum on the left, with the Vauban-Weg in between. The stairs overlook a passageway to Riedholzplatz, which is located within the walled enclosure.
Bastionweg (2)
On this side, the Bastionweg leads down to the large green area of the former moat (Schanzengraben), where you will find the Solothurn Art Museum and the Concert Hall.
Cathedral Esplanade
From the cathedral esplanade you can see the Hauptgasse with the Märetplatz (market square) and the Zeitglockenturm (clock tower) in the distance.
Cathedral Saint Urs
The cathedral was built between 1762 and 1773 from light-coloured Solothurn marble and is a masterly realisation of the "magic eleven". From the square, the imposing staircase leads up to the building in three times eleven steps, the interior houses eleven altars, the tower is six times eleven metres high and has eleven bells.
Cathedral Square
From the Hauptgasse, the main street of the old town, you can reach the monumental St. Urs Cathedral via a staircase with 3 x 11 steps. This imposing building, built in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of post-baroque neoclassical architecture. It is the symbol of Solothurn and can be seen from several kilometres away.
Hauptgasse (1)
Hauptgasse ("main alley") runs through the entire old town, from the Stalden alley along the line of the old fortifications in the west to the Basel Gate in the east, past the market square and along the cathedral.
Hauptgasse (2)
Near the cathedral, you will see the grandiose façade of the Jesuit church, in line with the façades of the old houses. Through the French ambassador to Switzerland, the Jesuits obtained financial assistance from Louis XIV to give the façade all the luxury it could have, and it clearly betrays its French royal origin. The interior of the church is just as luxurious, so enter and visit!
Hauptgasse (3)
Hauptgasse runs alongside the cathedral and continues to the Baseltor, the gate to the Basel road. To the left of the houses along the road opposite the cathedral, you see a passageway leading to the former arsenal (Altes Zeughaus) and the town hall (Rathaus).
Hauptgasse (4)
We arrive at the Baseltor (Basel Gate), which closes the walled city to the east. We are standing next to the cathedral tower, which was unfortunately undergoing renovation and surrounded by scaffolding when we shot these panoramas in May 2021.
Jesuit Church
The Jesuit Church, one of the most beautiful baroque buildings in Switzerland, was built between 1680 and 1689. It is decorated with impressive stucco work inspired by the Italian style. It was built at the request of the French ambassador in 1530, who had chosen Solothurn as his place of residence and wanted to maintain a strong Catholic presence in the reformed country, hence the Jesuits' decision to build this outrageously luxurious church.
Konzertsaal (Concert Hall Solothurn)
Planned at the same time as the neighbouring Art Museum and inaugurated in 1900, the Solothurn Concert Hall was inspired by the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, with touches of the local architectural style to echo the city walls directly opposite. The two halls, which can accommodate up to 590 spectators, have exceptional acoustics.
Märetplatz (1)
In the Middle Ages, the market place was always the centre of life in the city. This is where news was exchanged and where people came to shop. The "Märetplatz" (market square in Solothurn dialect) is still a lively place today. It is a must to see the Clock Tower or to shop at the Wednesday and Saturday markets.
Märetplatz (2)
The Clock Tower (Zeitglockenturm) is the oldest building in the city. It was erected on the Märetplatz in the 12th or 13th century. Its clock dates from 1452, with a mechanism that was replaced in 1545. Under the dial, three statues (a knight, a king and the death) are animated each hour by a mechanism to remind the meaning of life.
Ramparts of Riedholz
A view to the north-east from the ramparts of Riedholz, with one of the watchtowers and, in the distance, the Weissenstein, one of the peaks of the Jura mountain range. The foundation stone for the bastion was laid in 1667, a construction made necessary by the numerous wars of the 17th century. Solothurn built an enormous fortification system with several bastions and a moat 30 to 50 metres wide and 5 metres deep. Fortunately, they were never used for the defence of the town and were removed between 1835 and 1905. This bastion is one of the remains of this old fortification system.
Rathausgasse (1)
Rathausgasse passes at the bottom of Arsenal Square (Zeughausplatz). Taking this alley you can reach the Schanzengraben, the large green area where the Solothurn Concert Hall and the Art Museum are located.
Rathausgasse (2)
This majestic building is the Solothurn town hall (Rathaus). Unfortunately, when we took the pictures in May 2021, a large part of the building was surrounded by scaffolding and we had to give up shooting other panoramas. Passing to the right, you walk along the Franciscan church and reach the Barfüssergasse.
Riedholz Tower
The Riedholzturm, built in 1548 at the highest point of the old town, is the northern cornerstone of Solothurn. It is in fact the second tower to be built at this location. Its predecessor, the Nydeckturm, was used as a gunpowder keeper. It was struck by lightning in 1546 and exploded, as did the surrounding buildings.
Riedholzplatz (1)
The long cobbled square along the former arsenal (Altes Zeughaus) climbs towards the Riedholz bastion, which tower can be seen at the end. It is lined with beautifully renovated old houses.
Riedholzplatz (2)
At the very top of the square, the passage you see to the left of the salmon pink house joins the Vauban-Weg, an alley of the Schanzengraben, a vast green space where you can visit the Museum of Fine Arts or attend a concert in the Konzertsaal with its exceptional acoustics.
Schanzengraben (1)
Schanzengraben is the former bastion ditch, which has been filled in and transformed into a large park with trees. Our panorama here is westward, towards the Solothurn Concert Hall, which tower you can see a little further on.
Schanzengraben (2)
Here we come to Untere Steingrubenstrasse, which we will cross to take a closer look at the beautiful concert hall building before following the street to the old town.
Solothurn Art Museum
The works on display at the Museum of Fine Arts range from the late Middle Ages to the present day, with an emphasis on Swiss art of the 19th and 20th centuries. You will also see major works by international artists (Cézanne, Giacometti, van Gogh, Klimt, Matisse, Picasso). Incredible but true: admission is free! In the foyer, a work by Jean Tinguely entitled "The Beggar" invites you to donate a small contribution.
St Urbangasse
To right, St Urbangasse runs along the perimeter of the old town to the Bieltor (Biel Gate). Straight ahead, Barfüssergasse leads past the Franciscan church then turns right towards Market Square (Märetplatz).
Untere Steingrubenstrasse
From the concert hall, cross Nordringstrasse (where you will find plenty of parking spaces) and follow this street through the walls into the old town.
Vauban-Weg
Apparently, among many other experts, Vauban, the fortification engineer of the French King Louis XIV, looked into the construction of Solothurn's fortifications in 1700, a few years before his death. Our stroll will now turn away from the alley that bears his name and continue westwards.
Zeughausplatz
The first thing you see when you arrive at the Zeughausplatz (Arsenal Square) is the picturesque St. Mauritius Fountain with its banneret, which is reminiscent of a medieval Confederate warrior. It is one of five banneret fountains built in Solothurn in the 16th century.
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