Aarburg, river town

Coming up to this little town by the Aare river was really an unexpected stop. Here was one guy, two ladies who had just arrived in Zurich and were driving on the way to the most baroque ambassador city (read here).

It was really a bonus to have come up to this little town.

For most of its history, it has been of small significance due to its location between larger neighboring cities. You need to recall that in medieval times, size and might usually makes right. So, Aarburg was subdued repeatedly as a small town by powers larger than itself.

Fortress town?

Aarburg fortress
Now a boys’ reformatory

Probably built earlier, the fortress castle of the same name was first mentioned in the books of history in the 13th century. As with all fortifications, the principle consideration was the location. Overlooking a river and being on a bed of rock on higher ground helped.

Owned by the Counts of Frohburg, the fortress helped their owners to exact toll on the riverboat trade that passed through. Then it changed hands and led ownership to the Habsburgs. Not being well liked, the neighboring cantons waged conflict on the town and eventually captured it. You know back in the day there was religious wars amongst the Christians in terms of theology and this was the Protestant part of Europe.

So it played a critical role for its new masters, for it served as a bastion from which Bern (which it is part of) can defend its territories. Not surprisingly the castle was enlarged and made even stronger that we can see today.

Today it is a “youth home”, probably the same as the “Boys’ home” in Singapore where juveniles are put through a reforming process, preparing their re-entry to society. We did not stay long admiring the castle, from its base, as it was a Sunday and we thought it might be closed off to the public.

The Aare river

Is now better understood by us when we walked along the road to catch a view of the town’s church, sited next to the castle. Built in new gothic style over 1842-45, the church looks over the river imposingly.

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This river rises and ends in Switzerland entirely over its 295km course.

Aarburg town6From where we looked, it was the turn in the river where a small harbor was used to tax the traffic. And the old town hugs the river bank in a triangle shape. Nope, did not walk it, the ladies did not want to spend too much time in the sun… As with any town in Europe, cannot miss the local church.

Aarburg town7
Church overlooks the town & river

So it was off to Solothurn.

But this was quite an experience. Stopping over in these small little quaint towns. We had driven on the freeway and only decided to turn off for this one purely out of randomness. And it worked out well.

August 2012

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