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The Historical Town of Werdenberg, Switzerland

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Darla Uhl

Welcome to Werdenberg: Switzerland’s smallest town awaits!

Image of Werdenberger See, Werdenberg by TouringSwitzerland.com

Last weekend’s adventure to Werdenberg, Saint Gallen turned out to be an absolute delight. It’s incredible how this charming town remains somewhat of a hidden gem beyond Switzerland’s borders. Yet, its quaint streets and serene atmosphere make it a truly special find. And despite its small size, there’s an undeniable magic to strolling along its car-free streets.

As we wandered through Werdenberg, it felt like stepping into a storybook. In just under an hour, we explored its ancient timber houses, marveled at the treasures in the Schlangenhaus Museum, and gazed out from the castle over the picturesque Rhine Valley. The experience brought to mind the cozy charm of Saillon in Valais, with its scenic vistas and welcoming ambiance. Unlike bustling tourist hubs like Carcassonne in France, Werdenberg felt like a genuine community, where locals still call the historic houses home.

Werdenberg Village

Did you know that Werdenberg, nestled in the Canton of St. Gallen, is the smallest town in Switzerland? Werdenberg traces its roots back to the 13th century, a time steeped in the richness of the Middle Ages.

This region held significant importance as a crossing point from north to south during Roman times, leading to the formation of towns and villages along this historic path. Its preservation throughout history is remarkable, having escaped the ravages of fires and wars that have affected so many other towns.

Back in the day, it used to be part of the County of Werdenberg, along with neighboring Swiss communities like Buchs and Grabs, as well as the upper Thur valley near Wildhaus. The counts initially established the castle as a keep, later transforming it into a feudal residence. Eventually, a wall was built encircling the castle.

Over the years, Werdenberg changed hands multiple times and even spent a few years under the rule of Glarus. Then in 1802, it officially became part of the Canton of St. Gallen. Today, Werdenberg is renowned far and wide for its beautifully preserved medieval charm. It’s not just a picturesque town—it’s been home to families for over 800 years.

Our Experience

Image of Werdenberg by TouringSwitzerland.com

When exploring Werdenberg, I suggest that you start your journey from the big parking lot beside the pond. That’s what we did as well. The view of the village across the water is simply breathtaking and well worth capturing. From there, take a stroll up to the village, savoring every moment of the tranquil surroundings.

Make sure to carve out some time to visit the Werdenberg Castle and the Schlangenhaus Museum. They’re like portals to another era, offering fascinating insights into life centuries ago.

Images of the Schlangenhaus Museum in Werdenberg by TouringSwitzerland.com

We decided to visit the Schlangenhaus Museum and took our time exploring. Turns out, the old town of Werdenberg was famed for its embroidery tradition, and there’s this wonderful big book showcasing all the beautiful and intricate embroidery templates they’ve created over the years. It’s truly a testament to the town’s rich history and craftsmanship.

Image of Werdenberg Castle by TouringSwitzerland.com

Although the path from Schlangenhaus Museum to the Werdenberg Castle is uphill, it’s a quick and effortless climb. And let me tell you, the view overlooking the Rhine Valley, the serene pond, and the majestic mountains—especially on a crisp, clear day with snow-dusted peaks—is simply breathtaking.

If you happen to visit during the Schlossmediale Festival, consider yourself in for a real treat! The castle transforms into a vibrant hub of music, both contemporary and classical, and mesmerizing audiovisual art for a whole ten days. We happened to visit during the food festival instead of the music festival, and it was such a delightful experience. If the music festival is anything like it, I can only imagine how wonderful it will be.

How to Get to Werdenberg

If you’re arriving by public transportation, you’ll want to catch the train to Sargans first, and then transfer to Buchs SG. Once you’ve arrived in Buchs SG, you can either enjoy a leisurely walk or hop on the bus that’ll take you directly to Buchs SG, Werdenberg.

TrainBuchs SG (20-minute walk)
BusBuchs SG, Werdenberg
CarParkplatz Werdenberger See
St. GallerStrasse 33
9470 Buchs

Final Thoughts

Image of Werdenberg and Werdenberger See by TouringSwitzerland.com

Werdenberg had been on my bucket list for ages, and I’m so glad we finally made the trip. It exceeded my expectations in charm, even compared to nearby Lichtensteig, which is also lovely but not quite as quaint. While Werdenberg may not be as bustling as medieval towns like Murten and Stein am Rhein, its car-free streets and walled town make for a serene atmosphere.

For me, the highlight was undoubtedly the breathtaking views from the castle atop the hill. If you’re up for the uphill climb, I highly recommend it—it’s truly worth it.

I’d suggest budgeting around an hour or two to wander through this quaint town, though you could easily stretch your visit if you’re keen to delve into the museums and castle at a leisurely pace. If you’re feeling hungry, there’s a restaurant right by the pond and parking area.

In summary, Werdenberg surpassed all my expectations and proved to be a hidden gem worth exploring. From its serene atmosphere to its breathtaking views, it’s a town that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

Resource

  • 1 Le Bourg de Werdenberg : Présentation Audiovisuelle d’Introduction. Schloss Werdenberg.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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