Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Solothurn, Switzerland

My last postcard for today comes from Switzerland and was sent to me by my postcard pal Christophe. Solothurn calls itself Switzerland's most beautiful Baroque City (well, it does look very pretty!).

Solothurn is the capital of the Canton of Solothurn in Switzerland. The city also comprises the only municipality of the district of the same name. It is located in the north-west of Switzerland on the banks of the Aare and on the foot of the Weissenstein Jura mountains, in the German-speaking part of the country.

This Celtic settlement was renewed around AD 14–37 by the Roman emperor Claudius, and became a Roman stronghold (castrum) under the name of Salodurum. Its strategical importance lay in the position at the approach to the Rhine from southeast.

In the Middle Ages the settlement grew around the remains of the Roman fortress and the religious house of St. Ursen, dedicated to Ursus of Solothurn, founded in the 8th century. In 1127, it was acquired by the dukes of Zähringen, and became a free imperial city in 1218 when that dynasty extinguished. After the alliance with Berne in 1295, it became part of the Swiss Confederation. In 1382 the Habsburgs attacked the city, involving Solothurn in the Battle of Sempach. By the treaty of two years later, the Habsburgs renounced all claims to the territory of the city. The latter was expanded by acquisition of neighbouring lands in the 15th century, roughly up to the today's canton area.

In 1481, it obtained full membership in the Swiss Confederation, and in 1530–1792 it was the seat of the French ambassador to the Swiss.

Solothurn has a special affinity for the number eleven. The Canton of Solothurn was the eleventh to become part of the Swiss Confederation. There are eleven churches and chapels, as well as eleven historical fountains and eleven towers. The St. Ursus cathedral has eleven altars and eleven bells, and the stairs in front of the cathedral have levels between every eleven steps.

The stamp is from a set of 2 stamps issued in 2009, showing birds. This one is the Rock Partridge.

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