• Deborah Kade

Bremgarten, Switzerland

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

I had watched a Rudy Maxa show on PBS where he talked about the beautiful Christmas market in Bremgarten. So, I decided I wanted to see the town. It certainly must be different when the streets are lined with Christmas stalls.

Bremgarten is a municipality in the Swiss canton of Aargau. It serves as seat of the district of Bremgarten. The medieval old town is listed as a heritage site of national significance. In 2013, Bremgarten was the first municipality in Europe to introduce laws forbidding asylum seekers from visiting certain public places such as libraries, swimming pools, schools and churches.

We took many trains to get to Bremgarten: Interken West to Olten; Olten to Aarau; Aarau to Wohlen and Wohlen to Bremgarten. From Olten on, all the regional trains were new. The train from Wohlen even had a wooden floor.

This area of Switzerland has areas for farming as well as many factories. We saw them harvesting potatoes. We passed through thick forests.

The area was known before 1140 as Bremgarten, though the city wasn't founded until almost a century later. In 1230, a settlement was founded near the present location of Bremgarten. Then, in 1238-39 it was mentioned as Bremegarten. In 1258, it was granted city right by Rudolf I of Habsburg. Bremgarten's population grew rapidly, and it became an important market town with an outstanding Latin school. Because it was part of the Habsburg lands, the residents of Bremgarten fought at the Battles of Morgarten(1315) and Sempach on the Habsburg side.

In 1379, a courthouse was built in Bremgarten, serving as center of a new legal district. Berikon joined Bremgarten in 1374. Later, in 1410, Unterlunkhofen, Oberlunkhofen, Jonen and Arni joined. Oberwil-Lieli joined in 1429, Rudolfstetten-Friedlisberg in 1430, and finally Huserhof in 1482. Two districts were created: a "high" one for Ober- and Unterlunkhofen, Arni, Islisberg, Jonen, Werd and Huserhof and a "lower" one for the remaining village.

In 1415, Aargau was conquered by the Old Swiss Confederation. While Bern kept the southwest portion which consisted of Zofingen, Aarburg, Aarau, Lenzburg, and Brugg. Bremgarten became part of the Freie Ämter or free bailiwicks. They remained relatively independent and were allowed to keep its own legal district. Bremgarten, together with the rest of the Freie Ämter (Mellingen, Muri, Villmergen, and the countship of Baden), were governed as "subject lands" by all or some of the Confederates. When Bremgarten refused the offer to join the Confederation freely, it became involved in the 1443 Old Zürich War, in which it was besieged and captured.

Bremgarten played an important role in the Reformation. An important Swiss reformer called Heinrich Bullinger was born there. As early as 1529, the official religion of the city changed. However, Catholicism was reintroduced by force in 1531 after the Battle of Kappel. Bullinger was forced into exile and moved to Zürich, where he became the successor of Huldrych Zwingli, after Zwingli had died in battle.

Catholicism lost its influence after the second Villmerger War of 1712. Bremgarten became part of the area of Zürich, Bern and Glarus. During the French Revolution, it became for a short time host to Louis-Philippe, who sought refuge from the revolutionaries. Marshal André Masséna moved into Bremgarten, along with his headquarters, before the his troops defeated those of Russia and Austria near Zürich. During the time of the Helvetic Republic, Bremgarten became part of the short-lived Canton of Baden. In 1803, finally, it joined the canton of Aargau.

The city flourished during the Industrial Revolution. Because of the growth, the city wall was taken down, and it was connected to the Swiss railway system in 1876. Only since 1912 has the city been connected with Dietikon and Wohlen by rail.

Like everywhere in Europe, the era after World War II marked a vast increase in motorized traffic. Bremgarten is located at the main road connecting Lenzburg to Zürich. Before the highway was opened, it was one of the busiest roads in Switzerland. This was a big problem, because all the traffic needed to pass a small wooden bridge in the middle of the old part of the town. The opening of the highway did not solve this problem. Only in 1994, when a bypass was constructed, the old part of the town has finally been quiet again. It is now closed to motorized traffic.

Bremgarten has an area of 11.36 km2 (4.39 sq mi).

Bremgarten has a population of 7,765. I don't know where everyone was today. The town was practically deserted. Well, today is Monday and most of the restaurants and shops are closed on Monday. It felt like we had the whole town to ourselves. There is a month long art walk taking place in town.

A little sampling from the art walk.

I would have to describe the town as a cute and quaint cobblestone little artists' town. There are many galleries and craft shops. There are some beautiful old buildings, too.

This building even has an oriel window. A wealthy person or merchant must have lived here.

The school.

Beautiful day to work on an art project outside.

Oh, this is where everyone is! Serious games of bocce. Bocce, sometimes anglicized as bocci, is a ball sport belonging to the boules family, closely related to British bowls and French pétanque, with a common ancestry from ancient games played in the Roman Empire.

We enjoyed the Old Town the best.

The Spittelturm was built in 1556. This was Bremgarten's main gateway. The astronomical clock shows the time, day of the week, and current zodiacalsign, topped by a sphere showing the

phase of the moon.

This is a beautiful bridge, the Holzbrücke, built in 1597.

There usually is a chapel in the oriel window on an old wooden covered bridge.

Supposedly, not far from the Old Town, Europe's surfers ride the standing wave on the River Reuss. We couldn't find it, though.

Found out they did this to make the water run faster. It must have something to do with the conditions the surfers need and the hydroelectric power plant.

The Reuss River is the fourth largest river in Switzeeland.

The Katzenturm forms the southeast corner of the town fortifications. First mentioned in 1415. Renovated in 2002, now privately owned.

Huldrych Zwingli left the town by the Katzentörli in August 1531 accompanied by Heinrich Bullinger after they had negotiated with the envoys from Bern. Former riflemen's association house next door. The railway bridge (1912) passes directly alongside the tower.

The old city walls

The end of the city wall.


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