Designated a cultural monument, this Renaissance edifice is rightly considered one of Switzerland’s prettiest public buildings. Its magnificent location equals it in every way: the immediate vicinity of the Town Hall, poised majestically by the River Reuss in the heart of the Old Town, offers visitors countless distractions during the day and in the evening.
Alongside the excellent shopping in the Old Town, Switzerland’s best weekly market is held every Tuesday and Saturday between 6 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Rathausquai. Its stalls occupy the arcades along the River Reuss, as well as Jesuitenplatz and parts of Bahnhofstrasse. Moreover, there may be no more idyllic spot for admiring the Chapel Bridge than amongst the restaurants and cafes lining the river.
The man responsible for designing and building this glorious edifice between 1602 and 1606 in the style of the Italian Renaissance was the Italian architect and builder Anton Isenmann. The Kornschütte on the ground floor of the Town Hall was originally the trading hall. This welcoming space is now used for exhibitions and concerts. The council chamber on the first floor features two monumental paintings by two important artists, Melchior Wyrsch and Josef Reinhart. The coffered ceiling, wall panelling and 18th century stove lend this room its magnificent character. Meanwhile, the Tagsatzung Room built by Josef Singer in the Empire style is now a popular venue for registry office weddings.
Renward Cysat’s Old Chancellery is on the top floor of the medieval family tower, while the New Chancellery in the Italian baroque style is situated between the Town Hall and the tower. The low, broad roof in a Bernese farmhouse style provides excellent protection against the elements.
Created in the Town Hall’s attic in 2003, the dovecote offers hygienic roosting and breeding quarters for urban doves; feed is not provided. Apertures allow the birds to fly as they please in search of their own food. The apertures in two of the skylights can be seen from the Reusssteg promenade. The dovecote can be visited by groups of ten or more: a discreet viewing gallery allows visitors to observe the birds going about their daily business, courting, quarrelling, brooding and snoozing. An exhibition in an antechamber focuses on doves, their behaviour and history.