Located in the west of the canton of Thurgau that is a northeast canton of Switzerland and neighboring such cities as Winterthur, St. Gallen and Constance, while being only 34 km away from Zurich, Frauenfeld is the capital of the canton and an important center for economic, political and cultural relations, as well as a tax-efficient location for well-known industrial, commercial and service companies, well-known beyond the national borders.
It’s a lively small city with magnificent legation houses from the 18th century, narrow streets and a striking eye-catcher – the castle in the midst of the charming Old Town. In fact, architecture is not the only attraction here. Wonderful surroundings with the wide Thurtal and the hilly hinterland are ideal for excursions, hiking and bicycle tours.
It’s not a tourist mecca, but the city is well worth of getting to know, and you will find that Frauenfeld has got a lot to offer. Do you doubt that? Go on and read the article!
Interesting things and facts about Frauenfeld
Initially, the city was built on a rectangle of only 250 m× 110 m
Indeed, the area as small as it seems, houses the core of the town that was founded there approximately in 1230. This area, actually, was chosen not out of the lack of suitable terrain to start a new settlement but for its symbolic meaning. The “Frauenfeld”, a plateau descending westwards to the Thurebene and a rocky crash to the Murg, is a hallway consecrated to the Mother of God.
The present town of Frauenfeld has enlarged over the time and now consists of the eight quarters suburb (Altstadt and upper suburbs), Ergaten-Talbach, Langdorf, Huben, Herten-Bannhalde, Kurzdorf, Gerlikon and Erzenholz-Horgenbach-Osterhalden.
The origin of the name of the settlement is associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary and literary means “Women’s Field”
The first part of the name Frauenfeld should refer to the Virgin Mary, the heavenly patroness of the Reichenau monastery church in Mittelzell. As in 1294, Duke Albrecht of Austria granted the citizens of Vrowenfeld the right to declare their daughters equal to their sons.
Despite the slow growth of Frauenfeld during the second third of the 13th century, its name was first mentioned in 1246 as Vrowinvelt. The settlement was probably built in the second third of the 13th century in the immediate vicinity of the tower of the Frauenfeld castle, erected at the latest by 1230, on the ground of the Convent of Reichenau extending from Eschikofen to Gachnang. But it was not until 1286 that Frauenfeld was finally attested as a city.
Several knightly families resided in the village: the family of Hörigen,who were allied with Reichnau, and other families who were allied with the Habsburg and Kyburg families. In 1246, the abbot of Reichenau and the count of Kyburg Frauenfeld founded Frauenfeld. With the death of the last male member of the Kyburg family, in 1246 the lands passed to the Habsburgs. In the next three decades, the von Frauenfeld name was adopted.
Frauenfeld was burnt almost to ashes twice
Similarly to other predominantly wooden cities and towns like Glarus, for example, Frauenfeld experienced very hard times due to fires throughout its history, especially in the 18th century. Just during this span of time, the city was burned twice! First, the tragedy occurred in 1771, and the only 17 years later in 1788.
Unfortunately, but very predictably, the original buildings did not reach the contemporaries. Only some buildings in the styles of Baroque and Classicism survived for the most part and now represent architectural monuments, one of which is, by the way, the famous Frauenfeld Castle that still rises southward from the Old City, on the coast of the river Murg.
The capital simultaneously belongs to both of Zurich and Eastern Switzerland metropolitan regions
The town of Frauenfeld, despite its important standing as a capital, a political municipality and the main town of the Swiss canton of Thurgau as well as the district Frauenfeld, is a really tiny place. So much that we call it a city just out of its political and economic influence over the canton.
Still, due to its peculiar geographical location and its economic and political reach, it somehow managed to have its territory get hogged by two neighbouring major agglomerations – that of Zurich, which is understandable thanks to their close proximity and Zurich’s huge infrastructure, and the region of Eastern Switzerland. And together with the neighboring municipalities Felben-Wellhausen and Gachnang, it forms the agglomeration of Frauenfeld with about 32’000 inhabitants. The capital itself has reached the mark of 25’000 citizens at the beginning of 2017, the majority of whom are German-speaking with the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect being the main spoken language.
The first underground roundabout in Europe has been in use in Frauenfeld since 1999
Thanks to this roundabout, the Frauenfeld railway station is largely closed to public transport. In a referendum on March 11, 2007, the F21 (traffic relief and upgrading of the city center) was voted on. This second sub-tunneling of the inner city was, however, almost rejected.
This isn’t the only tunnel project that is planned to be implemented one day. The Seeruckentunnel, mentioned in the concept “Bodan Rail 2020”, would lead from Frauenfeld to Kreuzlingen. Thanks to it, together with the Überlingerseetunnel and a Neubaustrecke after Ravensburg the journey between Zurich and Ulm would be considerably shortened.
The Frauenfeld Castle has gone through some tough times and was once on the verge of being demolished
It’s hard to say how one could destroy such a beautiful building, but the fact is that after the French Revolution in 1798 the vassals no longer ruled and resided there. In 1803 the castle fell to the now independent canton of Thurgau, which at first used it for apartments. From mid-1809 it served as a provisional breeding and workhouse. In 1811, the fortification of the castle was over; the institution was moved to Tobel. From the following year, the palace served as an office building for the state fund, and government advisor Johann Conrad Freyenmut (1775-1843) also had his apartment in it. In 1834 the canton built the State Secretary inside. A short time later the lower palace garden and the moat of the castle were filled, and the outer ring wall was broken, while the interior was lowered. In addition, the castle remise was created in the courtyard against the town hall, for the back of which the old city wall served.
With the construction of the government building from 1864 to 1866, the castle as an administrative seat was deemed superfluous and was sold by the canton. Thanks to the resistance from the population, the sales, which would have broken it and erected a new building in its place, could not be achieved. In 1867, Johann Jakob Bachmann-Wegelin bought the castle for his son Dr. Jakob Huldreich Bachmann, who built apartments and lived with his family in the castle. In 1955, his daughter Marie Bachmann handed it over to the canton, with the condition of accommodating the Historical Museum. In 1960, when Thurgau celebrated 500 years of membership in the Swiss Confederation, the palace was completely restored inside and outside.
In turn, the museum was decorated with the exhibition of the historical and early historical as well as the historical collection, including the women’s fields of Mitra.
How to get to Frauenfeld?
There are 5 airports near Frauenfeld, so the choice is immense, depending on the point of the departure. Zurich International Airport is the closest international airport being only 28 km / 17.4 miles away from the city. The journey from Zurich takes about 17 minutes, depending on your choice of transportation.
The second closest is Friedrichshafen Airport (FDH) in the city of Friedrichshafen in the region of Baden-Württemberg, Germany 48 km / 29.8 miles and 30 minutes by train away from Frauenfeld. Then go the ones in Basel (around 1, 5 hours by train, not including the transfer time) and Bern.
The nearest inner airports include Altenrhein Airport (ACH) in Altenrhein next to Sankt Gallen, located 49.3 km / 30.7 miles east of Frauenfeld, and the one in Lugano.
Travelling by train is the most convenient option in Switzerland, as the railway network is expansive, excellently thought-out and coordinated. That’s why, it’s no problem getting anywhere, including Frauenfeld, and the trip is always fast and enjoyable. Located in the center of western Thurgau, it has Frauenfeld railway station,a big railway station which supports a regional train that goes from Weinfelden to Winterthur and in the opposite direction every 30 minutes. There are also fast InterCity and InterRegio trains which connect Zürich, Weinfelden, Constance in Germany and Romanshorn. During the mornings and evenings rush hours another train is providedtrain (called “S”) which makes stops in the bigger towns (like IR/IC).
Additionally, there’s another narrow-gauge regional train , Frauenfeld-Wil-Bahn (FW) on the station square called the “Bahnhofplatz”, and goes from Frauenfeld to Wil every half an hour. Since 2013 the line has been modernized and new trains have been running. In the future the line is planned to be served every 15 minutes.
Frauenfeld has a wonderful city bus network with various Post auto lines meeting at Frauenfeld train station. In addition to these busses, there is also an inner city bus network, with 5 lines, 1-3 of which run each quarter an hour and other lines meeting in the half-hour interval at the station. The lines with double-digit numbers run in the evening from about 8 pm, as well as on Sundays all day. These buses run some in the eight-minute intervals, others only hourly, but usually in a quarter-hour or half-hour intervals.
It’s very easy and convenient to reach Frauenfeld by car, as it is located on the A7 motorway (Frauenfeld West and Frauenfeld Ost) and A1 (Matzingen / Frauenfeld Süd). Also, the city is the junction of the main roads 1 and 14.
By ship or boat:
Since Frauenfeld is located in the close vicinity of Lake Constance, which in turn stretches along the territory of the canton of Thurgau, it is possible to get there by boat. First get to one of the towns situated on the banks, and then take a short ride to Frauenfeld.
How to get around?
It’s not difficult to navigate the city, as it’s incredibly small. However, if you want to enjoy all the perks of public transport, go for busses. As mentioned above, Frauenfeld has a great town bus service. There are 5 bus lines, with buses running every 15 minutes to every corner of the town. There are also 4 suburb lines.
Besides, keep in mind that from Monday to Saturday from 22:25 o’clock and on Sunday from 21:55 o’clock so-called Nachttaxis run instead of the city busses. With a surcharge of 3- CHF to the normal ticket, they serve all stations in Frauenfeld individually. Interesting, that what has once began as a pilot project, today is an important part of the Stadtbusses Frauenfeld in cooperation with the local taxi service “Ilg” and has a cost coverage ratio of almost 60%.
You can find all the necessary information at the tourist office. Plus, straight inside the railway station building there are various shops, which from chains such as depot or Avec. There is also an SBB travel center, where you can get all the necessary information concerning the time of departure and arrival of the trains best suited for your travel, as well as the best fare tickets and various passes that will help you to save up a considerable amount of money. For instance, if you don’t plan to linger for long, you should buy the Thurgau Day Pass, which covers all type of travel within the canton for one day.
Where to stay and grab a bite?
There are many excellent variants that provide wonderful accommodation. You can choose from hotels, hostels, inns, apartments for rent, guest houses, camp sites and eco farms in the suburbs.
It’s not a problem to find a nice place to eat as well. Various cuisines are presented in Frauenfeld, so you can easily go for the one you prefer the most. But don’t lose a chance to try traditional Swiss cuisine, and, moreover, the various cheeses that are produced here. Besides, the city is known for delicious sweets and bakery, so don’t pass up the chance to try some of them at Angelika’s Herzmanufaktur GmbH at Gerlikonerstrasse 18 or Bäckerei & Konditorei Susanne Rüdt at Teuchelwiesstrasse 13.
Frauenfeld with its well-developed infrastructure leaves almost no wishes unsatisfied. The proof of that is the lively club life that allows a diversified leisure time with a varied offer for people interested both in culture and sports.
Shopping in Frauenfeld
Frauenfeld is a wonderful place for shopping with prices considerably lower than in neighbouring Zurich and its immediate agglomeration. There are all kinds of shops, specialty stores and high-fashion boutiques, as well as various shopping centers like the Passage Frauenfeld that invites with more than 30 specialist stores, local retailers and inviting catering companies to the extensive shopping and leisure pleasure on two generous sales floors.
If you’re in need of food or other necessities, you can choose from over 100,000 items in the Migros supermarket. Speaking about the food, whether it is from Migros-Frischland, also with fresh fruit and vegetables, the house bakery, the cheese shop, where you can find all types of this famous Swiss delicacy, confectionaries with delicious chocolates and cakes, the butcher’s shop or the colonial goods area, bet you find what you’re looking for to spoil yourself and your loved ones with culinary delights. Even the large sections of household, kitchenware, stationery and toys leave little to be desired. And don’t forget about the traditional Swiss local outdoor markets, especially those ones before Christmas.
What is the weather like in Frauenfeld?
Frauenfeld has an average of 133 days of rain or snow per year and due to the close vicinity to Lake Constance is often subjected to changeable weather, which is quite often rather unpleasant. Besides, fogs are a common occurrence in the city as well.
The wettest month is June during which there is precipitation for an average of 12.5 days. With an average of 13 days of precipitation, May receives the most rain in the year, although rains are short or light. The driest month of the year, rather uncommonly for Switzerland, is March. So, if have decided to see the famous Rhine Falls – the biggest waterfall in Europe, which is easily reachable from the city, – at the beginning of spring, at its best, full of melted water and strikingly powerful, you may pay a visit to Frauenfeld too and be absolutely sure that weather won’t spoil the magical time of beautiful Swiss nature awakening from winter sleep.
What to see and do in Frauenfeld?
Go on a tour around the city!
The Old City is a MUST to see, of course, but there are lots of other interesting places to roam about. Your best option is to go on a tour called “Altstadtrundgang”, which will lead you through the Old Town and describe 26 historic buildings and 6 fountains. Coming from the castle via the post office, the town hall, the Alte Sonne and the Gambrinus, the path between the house to the light and the girls’ school leads into the Freiestrasse and leads through the Old Town.
If you don’t take a guide, the boards at the houses with data on the origin, use and importance will help you to understand and orient. You may also buy a brochure that explains everything about the famous sites and also draws attention to the devastating city fires of 1771 and 1788, as well as showing the urban influence that the choice of Frauenfeld had as a venue. The tour takes you to the “Regierungsviertel“, the Kantonsbibliothek and Huber, where together with the Wochenblatt for the Thurgau the first newspaper in the canton and simultaneously the second in Switzerland was published in 1798.
Visit the main landmark and symbol of the city – the Frauenfeld Castle!
That’s the main and the most recognizable landmark in the city. You’ll spot it right away and will be charmed and awed by its beautiful exterior. The Frauenfeld Palace is located in the southern part of Frauenfeld’s Old Town above the banks of the Murg. It is one of the Swiss heritage sites. The 19 m high Bergfried from large-scale masonry was built in the first third of the 13th century; in the 14th century further additions were added. The castle stood within the walls, but was separated by a moat.
It was built by the Kyburgs, seeing as since 1094 the Kyburgs were the lords of the Landgrafschaft Thurgau. Around 1230 they built a strong defense tower on the Molasse rock over the Murg to strengthen their rule. The tower, built of big boulders, is today the center of the castle. The entrance, originally accessible via a wooden gate, was at the height of today’s second floor. It was preserved to this day, and you are going to walk through it in order to enter the Turmgelass.
After the Kyburg died in 1264, Rudolf of Habsburg (1218 to 1291) inherited the castle and it was further extended. The castle belonged to various owners over the time, and each added something to the building. In the end the Swiss conquered Thurgau and gradually built up their rule. It was not until after the Swabian War of 1499 that the villagers, who were to be replaced every two years, resided permanently in Thurgau.
In 1534 the Swiss acquired the castle from the impoverished land owners. From this time on, the vassals had their seat here. They had the windows enlarged, and on the second floor they set up the great courtroom, and probably also painted the hall on the second floor, and the master’s hall. No major changes were made. Every two years a new representative came, from the seven Old Towns of Zurich, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug and Glarus. From 1712 Bern also took part in the reign. The most important household remained in the castle, so that every new landlord did not have to bring along a lot of things to settle down.
Nowadays, the castle houses the Historical Museum, which is definitely worth of visiting in addition to exploring the rich interior, which was fully restored.
Admire the Church of St. Nicholas – one of the most important neo-Baroque sites in the canton!
The Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicholas is one of the most important testimonies of neo-Baroque sacred architecture in the canton of Thurgau. It stands on a molasse rock over the Murgbogen, in a prominent position.
The first ecclesiastical buildings on the Frauenfeld area date back to the ninth century. After the church of St. Laurentius in the Frauenfeld district of Oberkirch, a chapel at the present location of the city – the church of St. Nikolaus – has been built no later than 1285, with St. Nicholas of Myra being chosen as the patron of the chapel in 1463.
Several alterations changed the appearance of the chapel and the mighty church tower, but they were mostly fully preserved. Both the exterior and interior of the structure are magnificent. The front is the main portal in the east of the church. The external structure is richly divided with pilasters, consoles and volutes. The façade from Haustein carries a relief of pedestals and cornices. The portals dominate the portals and the ten surviving figures of saints. During the renovation in 1967, the former color scheme, marked by brown-red, white and golden tones, was abandoned in favor of modern-day multicolor. The sight is really impressive, so check it out!
Go hiking or biking!
Perhaps this territory is not as blessed with spectacular sceneries as some other parts of Switzerland, but the nature here is beautiful in its own way. Different bicycle, skating and hiking routes start from Frauenfeld. The Seebach Valley is one of the destinations worth visiting. There are also various castles and magnificent landscapes that reward active tourists with their impressive views. A former monastery that is a national treasure, Kartause Ittingen, can be found just a few kilometers away.
Besides, nearby laying Lake Constance offers great views with scenery changing from Swiss alpine like in the east to more peaceful one possessing a totally different, but no less enchanting and serene beauty, magnified by vast crystal clear blue waters with groomed lovely beaches or sunlit vineyards, washed by them, and picturesque towns that adorn these scenic shores always open up fantastic panoramas of the lake that often resembles a see thanks to its size.
Altogether, there are about 1000 km of marked hiking trails, 900 km marked cycle paths and 200 km marked routes for skaters in the canton of Thurgau with an impressive number of which crossing the capital. So, being in Frauenfeld, you sure will be able to pick a couple to your liking. Be it a roundabout route by Lake Constance (if you make sure you get the right to pass the borders to Germany or Austria) that is incredibly popular or the Thurgau Rundwanderweg leading through 24 stages of about 2 hours of walking time around the canton. A particularly attractive stage is the one from Aadorf to Fischingen and past Frauenfeld.
Take part in the Openair Frauenfeld and other cultural events!
The nationally most popular cultural event in Frauenfeld is the Openair Frauenfeld on the Great Allmend, which has been taking place since 1985 and is now the largest hip hop open air in Europe. Lots of world famous bands and singers perform their hits on multiple stages each year in summer. Next festival will take place 5th-7th of July. Tickets tend to get sold out incredibly fast, so hurry up and book or buy some in order not to miss the grand event.
That’s not the only notable event in Frauenfeld’s cultural calendar. Every year, a Blues Festival, which ranks alongside Lucerne, Basel and Baden as one of Switzerland’s largest blues festivals takes place in Frauenfeld in Marc, and the International Jazztreffen Generations takes place every two years. In a two-year cycle, the Jugendkulturpreis for youth takes place in Frauenfeld. Don’t forget about Swiss Motocross Masters – a thrilling prelude to the Swiss Motocross Championship held on Easter Monday, as well as Swiss Derby – a prestigious horse race on the Allmend common in Frauenfeld that takes place in June.
Widen your outlook and enjoy great exhibits at various museums!
The city has three cantonal museums: the Historical Museum, the Natural Museum, nominated for the European Museum Prize in 2012, the Museum of Archeology, as well as the Cantonal Library.
The Thurgau History Museum in the aforementioned Frauenfeld Castle illustrates the 15th century, which was the period of the formation of today’s Canton Thurgau boarders. It offers an exciting multimedia walk to both adults and children, which takes you to the fascinating old times of knights, castles and monasteries of the Middle Ages. Walking through the castle, wth the interactive tour you can experience the historical events, which occurred on the way from the Middle Ages to the modern days.
The Nature Museum and the Museum of Archaeology are both a noteworthy destination for a family, conveniently located in the same building. As proved by the fact that the Nature Museum Thurgau is a recipient of the Swiss Prix Expo, nominated for the European Museum Award, and the European Children’s Museum Award. What is really fascinating is that numerous exhibition pieces of both museums cannot only be seen, but they can be identified with other senses as well. So, try that out! The two museums are easily combined, free of charge and handicapped-accessible.
Other cultural institutions, in case you’re not an ardent fan of traditional museums, are the Kulturbeiz KAFF, the Theaterwerkstatt Gleis 5, the City Gallery Baliere, the Sternwarte Oberherten, the Stadcasinoa and the Festhalle Rüegerholz.
Besides, there’s one unusual place you should definitely check out. It’s the former screw factory. Today, it is a cultural, residential and work center of ironworks that was awarded the Swiss Heritage Prize and a UNESCO Prize.
Visit Ittingen Charterhouse – one of the most important cultural sites in the region with more than 850-year-old history!
This is a former Carthusian monastery that lies embedded in the idyllic Thurgau landscape in Warth, near Frauenfeld. Founded in 1150, the monastery was built for the Canons Regular. The area of the monastery was purchased by the Carthusians in 1461, and in 1524, during the Reformation, it was ruined in the Ittingersturm. However, during the Counter-Reformation it was restored. The charitable foundation Kartause Ittingen took over the property and finished the restoration between 1979 and 1983.
These days it serves the purpose of an education and seminar centre and a farm. The Ittinger Museum and tecum, the Art Museum of Canton Thurgau, an Evangelical meeting and education center are all located on the premises. There is also a residential home which can accommodate about 30 people with learning difficulties or mental illnesses, who are all employed on the site.
Moreover, two hotels with 67 rooms and the restaurant Zur Mühle are also located here. So, you don’t even have to worry about the place to stay. Besides, the site is often used for weddings thanks to beautiful architecture and scenic location.
The agricultural industry is one of the biggest in the canton. Besides standard agriculture, grapes and hops are cultivated, which are used for wine and beer production The beer is brewed by Calanda Bräu in Chur. In addition, the estate keep their own cows whose milk is used to produce all sorts of cheeses.
In such a way, having set aside a whole day or better yet a couple, the visitors can learn about the lives of the Carthusian monks at the Ittingen Museum; encounter contemporary art at the Thurgau Art Museum; explore the various gardens and the labyrinth; savor gastronomic delights made from ingredients grown and produced here; and linger in the atmospheric garden restaurant.
All in all, it makes sense, why the Ittingen Charterhouse is an incredibly popular excursion destination, and if you’re in Frauenfeld, it would be plain stupid to forgo it.
Have a rest at the Schulthess Garden Prize 2017 winner – the Murg-Auen-Park!
Since 1998 the Swiss Homeland Security has awarded the Schulthess Garden Prize for outstanding garden culture services.
The Murg-Auen-Park in Frauenfeld turned a remnant of old river landscapes from the military area into an urban open space, open to man and nature alike. With a subtle master plan, a subtle intertwining of flood and nature conservation, urban development and recreational recreation has been achieved, which has a far-reaching character far beyond the region.
The revitalized river bank has become a beach and retreat for fish, the old run to the natural playground without toys and the forest thanks to new bridges to the quiet recreation room. An eloquent testimony of the successful transformation of the military terrain Murgwiese / Buebewäldli into a high-quality natural and adventure landscape is finally the lively popularity of it among the population.
Spend a wonderful day at the Plättli-Zoo!
It’s indeed better to set aside a whole day, as the Plättli-Zoo is undoubtedly one of Frauenfeld’s most popular attractions, where animal species from all over the world live together in a charming setting. That’s why it’s an ideal place for family excursions.
The Plättli-Zoo lies on an elevated area in Frauenfeld, and is home to a colourful mix of birds and mammals from all over the world – including lions, pumas, chimpanzees, wild boars and tortoises. And along the new and extended round path with lamas, kangaroos and camels you enjoy picturesque views of Frauenfeld and the Thur plane. Warm and friendly ambiance in the Plättli-Zoo, together with grill place, children’s playground and a restaurant, invite you to a great day out with the family. Particularly popular with smallest guests is naturally the petting zoo, where you can also feed the animals.
So, grab your kids and set off! And if you have ended up here, you can also easily combine the zoo with an enjoyable scenic hike to the Stählibuck-Turm viewing tower.
Climb the Stählibuck Tower for a spectacular view!
A nice workout for those who want to see the spectacular vista of the city and the surrounding area from high above. No wonder, you’ve got to climb 148 stairs of the Stählibuck Tower high up on the eponymous «Stählibuck» mountain of Frauenfeld. However, this is not what you would expect of a tower. It’s a steel giant with a height of 27 meters, somewhat resembling the Eifel Tower in Paris thanks to its metal construction. The Stählibuck Tower is one of the oldest lattice towers in Switzerland at the age of over 100 years. It’s better to get a guided tour to the site, as guides can tell a lot of interesting and exciting stories about the Stählibuck Tower. Like the fact that during World War II it was used as a watch tower for airplanes.
Nonetheless, having ascended the structure with or without a guide, you are going to be rewarded with a fantastic panoramic view, starting in the east with the Voralberg and all the way to the Bernese Alps in the west.