Zofingen Tourist Attractions
The great road and rail cross-country routes of Switzerland, Basle-St Gotthard-Ticino, and Lake Constance-Lake of Geneva, intersect in the lower Wigger valley, the most westerly point of the canton of Aargau.
Of the 12 historic towns of Aargau, the old town of Zofingen is the most extensive. It was founded by the Counts of Frohburg who, in the third quarter of the 12th C., began to secure their lands to the north and south of the upper Hauenstein with eight new towns and several castles. The first known mention of the place was in 1175 or 1179; in 1201 the "Canonici de Zovingen" were acknowledged. As early as the first century A.D. a Roman estate existed outside the line of the walls which were built later. During the Bernese domination, which lasted almost 400 years, the town was granted a certain measure of self-government and, in 1803, it was raised to the status of a district capital. From 1830, increasing industrialization (printing, processing of textiles, chemical works and engineering, etc.) took place. Important educational buildings followed from the 19th to the mid-20th C., including, in 1974-78, the modern educational center, embracing six schools, in the Wigger plain between Zofingen and Stengelbach.
The very well maintained Old Town of Zofingen contains many attractive features. The broad Niklaus Thut Square, originally called "Am Spitzberg", forms the town center. A fountain of the same name (1894) commemorates Mayor N. Thut who carried the town banner in 1386 at the Battle of Sempach.
Town Hall (Butcher's Guildhall)
In Zofingen's Thut Square are the Baroque Town Hall (1792-1795) by N. E. Ringer, with a Classical assembly hall, and the impressive former Butchers' Guildhall (ca. 1602), the restoration of which was completed in 1985. Of the former steward's house at the northeast corner of Thut Square, only a small part (dated 1595) now remains. In its top story is a glockenspiel of 16 bells which has been working since 1985. The Neuhaus, built by Ringer in 1770, is now the headquarters of the Swiss Banking Union. The hand of the architect Antoni Stal can be recognized in the former municipal Assistance Office (1598-1599).
The Zofingen Market Hall (once the headquarters of the butchers) and a cloth-hall, later to become the library, form links to the Vorderer Hauptgasse (outer main street). The last named is a narrow Baroque building with a hipped roof and open arcades. Since reconstruction in 1984, the weekly market is accommodated here, together with banqueting and conference rooms.
The old 18th century Zofingen town chancellery, which adjoins the Market Hall on the west, was restored in 1982; it has a huge hipped roof and now serves as a local administration building.
Reformed Church of St Mauritius
The oldest parts of the Reformed Church of St Mauritius (restored 1981-83) are Romanesque but the building was greatly altered in the 14th and 15th C. In 1979, the roof of the church collapsed and this necessitated the reconstruction of the nave with a wooden roof, as well as making the west gallery smaller. Interesting features of the church are the 16th C. choir, the crypt and the west tower. The last named was built in 1649 to a design by Antoni Tierstein; it is a prominent landmark and its oldest bell is dated 1409. Inside the church are six gallery windows of 1518, Late-Gothic choir-stalls, a new organ (1983) and fine stained glass (the middle window of the choir depicts a passion cycle in 12 parts, dating from about 1400). Near the church stands the Hans Bögli which was completely restored in 1985.
The old Schützenhaus (1825), built in mid-18th century style, in which the municipal art collection of Zofingen is housed, is worth a visit, as is the museum in General Guisan Strasse 18 which has a comprehensive historical and natural history collection. Also of interest are the funeral hall of the old cemetery in the Schützenmasse, which dates from 1873 and which was restored internally in 1983/1985, the 19th century Gemeindeschulhaus (parish schoolroom), the Küstorei (sexton's house). "Loffelberg" (now a regional center), the St Urbanhof (which once served the established monastery of St Urban as a sexton's house), and the Lateinschulhaus (Latin school house) by A. Stab (1600-02), in which the civic library (established in 1693) has been housed since 1974 are all noteworthy.
In the Hintere Hauptgasse (outer main street) where the nobility once lived, the silk manufacturer J. A. Senn set up an alpine dairy, completed in 1732. In the domestic wing on the south side can be seen fine linen tapestries showing panoramic scenes and genre landscapes.
Remains of an encircling wall, mentioned in the 13th C., are the Schwarz or Pulvertum (black or powder tower) a well-known landmark in the southeast of Zofingen, and the Strecke or Folterturm (rack or torture tower), now part of the Jelmoli department store. In the area of the Oberer Tor (upper gate) which was demolished in 1846 stand two original cottages in the Classical style.
Lovers of nature can relax in the zoo above Zofingen or they can enjoy walks in the neighborhood (there is an excellent nature trail). From the hill known as the "Bergli" there are good views over the upper Wigger valley and the Alps.
From the Lindengeviert in the Heiternplatz the view embraces the whole of the Zofingen Old Town and extends to the Jura.
Where the Hotel Römerbad now stands in Zofingen, there was in the middle of the first century a Roman villa rustica. During excavations in 1826-1827, three Roman mosaic pavements were discovered; these were dug up and provided with protective covers in the style of Grecian temples. The pavements were re-protected in 1974. Finds from excavations can be seen in the museum.
Local Museum, Brittnau, Switzerland
The small town of Brittnau, south of Zofingen, has an interesting local museum. Exhibits include coins, local and church history, blacksmithing and agricultural equipment as well as weapons, documents and photos.
This annual one-day festival takes place in early July.
Map of Zofingen Attractions