Aarau, capital of the canton of Aargau since 1803. lies on the River Aare under the southern slopes of the Jura. With Late Gothic houses dating from the period of Kyburg rule, their street fronts colourfully remodelled in Baroque style, it is known as the “town of gables and gardens”. In addition to its tole as an administrative and cultural centre it also has a variety of industry (manufacture of instruments, iron and steel works, optical industry, bell calling. History Founded about 1240 by the Counts of Kyburg, Aarau soon passed into the hands of the Habsburgs. In 1415 it came under Seines* rule, and in 1798 became for six months capital of the Helvetian Republic. In the 18th c. the Swiss national gymnastic, shooting and singing associations were founded or held their first meetings in Aarau.
The well-preserved old town, built on a prominent rocky hill above the Aare, has many gabled houses with carved decoration (ornamental and figured) on the roofs and pointed shingle fronts. The Rove tower 11240) is the oldest part of the Rathaus (Town Hall), which was enlarged about 1520 and remodelled in Baroque style in 1762. The Late Gothic parish church (Stadtkirche: Protestant), a pillared basilica, was built in 1471-78. Both these buildings are in the Halde, the best preserved old street in the canton, with houses ranging in date from the 16th to the 19th c. Here, too, is the Upper Tower (Oberer Timm, 12701. Its clock dates from 1532 and still strikes daily. On the south side of the tower is the painting “Dance of Death” by Felix Hoffman. The Schlossli was originally a castle keep 111th c.).
The Grossrat gerbAudo, seat of the cantonal parliament, is the finest Neoclassical building in Aarau: Fountain Aargau (1826-28). From the new bridge over the Aare (Neue Aare-of Justice brOcke.1949) there is a fine view of the old town. Also of interest are the Municipal Museum Stadtmuseum Alt-Aarau) in the castle and the Art Gallery, as well as the Aargau Museum of Nature and local interest.
Surroundings Good walking in the Aare valley, the Jura and MitteIlen hills. In the wooded Roggenhausen valley are a wildlife park and a nature trail, and in Schachen an interesting aviary. 10 km/6 miles northeast on road 5 lies Wildegg (alt. 357 mil 171 ft), at the foot of the Kestenberg, with saline springs containing iodine (water avail-able only bottled) Above the town to the north 11.5 km/1 mile by road) Schloss Wildegg stands the imposing Schloss Wildegg (alt. 433 m/1421 ft 12th and 17th c.: now open to the public as a museum). The Schaerer-Citterio Weapon Collection and the Erlach House have been open to visitors since 1988. The latter was built by Albrecht von Effinger in 1825 in Biedermeier (early Victorian) style for his half-sister Sophie von Erlach-von Effinger.
On the left bank of the Aare, a little way downstream, is Schloss Wildenstein, now an old people’s home.
5.5 km/3 miles farther downstream we come to Bad Schinznach (alt. 355 m/1165 (ii, an elegant spa established in 1694 (closed in winter), with sulphurous water (34′ C-93′ F) which is effective in the treatment of rheumatism and metabolic disorders; beautiful park restaurant) and golf course.
Beyond Bad Schinznach, on the left, a steep narrow road ascends (2.5 km/ 2 miles) to the ruins of the Habsburg (alt. 513 m/1683 ft: inn), on the Walpersberg. The castle, built about 1020 was in the 12th and 13th c. the seat of the Counts of Habsburg. one of whom, Rudolf III, was elected King of Germany in 1273 and thus became the founder of the Imperial dynasty of Habsburg. From the 24 m179 ft-high tower there are superb views.
The castle can also be reached from Brugg (see p. 96) on a steep and not very good road 13.5 km/2 miles). East of Aarau by way of Buchs is Lenzburg (alt. 400 m/1312 ft), a little town of 7000 inhabitants well known for its food•preserving factories (particularly fruit preserves). Above the old town with its unspoiled 17th and 18th c.
To the west of the motorway access road are the foundations of a Roman theatre of the discovered in 1964 and restored in 1970-1972.