Culture & History

The canton of Aargau has a rich historical heritage and broad-based cultural life with firm roots in the region.

Provincial towns around the regions form cultural magnets that give rise to a vibrant scene. The canton offers cultural institutions having unique and individual profiles, festivals and seasons of events with close audience relationships. Further hallmark features include the lively teaching of history at the actual scenes of events and the rich cultural creativity in evidence today. Many cultural activities rest on a well-functioning system of volunteers, which is where clubs play an important role. Of those, many are particularly involved in maintaining traditions.

A cantonal law on culture governs the promotion, nurture and communication of cultural heritage and contemporary cultural creativity. The canton's 2017-2022 cultural concept gives in-depth insight into Aargau's cultural landscape and enumerates the government's cultural policy objectives.

Sol Gabetta, cellist founder of the Solsberg-Festival, talks about the cultur and hirstory of Aargau.

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Cultural heritage

The canton's cultural heritage goes way back to olden times, and there is plenty yet to be researched. Early testimony of the territory's settlement comes from the pile dwellings in Beinwil and Seengen, which are UNESCO world cultural heritage sites. Aargau also has rich and internationally significant cultural treasures dating from Roman times, including the former Roman town of Augusta Raurica in Kaiseraugst and the Roman camp of Vindonissa (will open in new window) in Windisch. The latter is the subject of the pioneering Legionnaire's Trail (will open in new window) educational project, which targets a broad public. Well-preserved historic town districts, forts and castles also bear fascinating witness to times past. Some represent cultural heritage of European significance, for example the stained glass windows of the Königsfelden Convent Church depicting St. Francis' celebrated Sermon to the Birds, and the former Benedictine abbey in Muri. The Aargau public record office and the cantonal library preserve and impart valuable documents and testimonies dating from the high-medieval period to the present day.

Museums & exhibition venues

In the fine arts field, the Aargauer Kunsthaus has acquired international renown with its unique collection of Swiss art. It includes works by Wolf, Hodler, Böcklin and Segantini, as well as contemporary artists such as Silvia Bächli and Roman Signer. There are also numerous smaller exhibition venues such as the Trudelhaus in Baden and the Kunstraum Aarau that offer artists opportunity to present their work as well as space for experimentation. The Stapferhaus Lenzburg has garnered much note beyond cantonal and national borders for its exhibitions on contemporary issues.

The Aargau Museum is one of Switzerland's most-visited historical museums. It is spread across seven historical sites: Lenzburg, Hallwil, Habsburg and Wildegg Castles, Königsfelden Monastery, together with the Legionnaire's Trail (will open in new window)and the Vindonissa Museum (will open in new window). Each one narrates history at the actual scenes where events took place.

Other museums funded by municipalities, foundations and associations are dedicated to specific themes: for example the Langmatt Museum in Baden with its distinguished impressionist collection, the Children's Museum in Baden, the Straw Museum in Wohlen and the Fortress and Military Museums in Full-Reuenthal. Last but not least, there are numerous urban and local history museums in multifaceted Aargau.

Theatre & dance

Aargau has a long theatrical tradition with strong popular roots. Numerous theatre troupes, children's and youth drama groups perform folk, classical and outdoor theatre. Elaborate and often experimental work emerges from small venues in all regions of the canton. The Flamencos en Route dance troupe garners major applause at its performances, not only in Switzerland but also abroad. "tanz&kunst königsfelden" is a dance platform unique in Switzerland where dancers, musicians and artists create a total artwork that bears relationship to the late Gothic architectural monument. Festivals such as the figura international "biennale" of image theatre, object theatre and puppetry and the Youth Theatre Festival Switzerland enrich stage life the whole year round. Baden's Kurtheater and Theater im Kornhaus, the Tuchlaube Theater in Aarau, the Kellertheater in Bremgarten, the TaB Theater am Bahnhof in Reinach, the Odeon in Brugg, the Sternensaal in Wohlen and the Kleine Bühne in Zofingen also serve up colourful programmes to discerning theatregoers.


Aargau devotees of motion pictures find a vibrant selection of movie theatres, from commercial multiplexes to art houses presenting feature and documentary films outside the mainstream and taking audiences on cinematic journeys to the farthest corners of the world. Come September every year, Baden plays host to the Fantoche Festival, an international nexus of the animation scene. Inaugurated in 1995, this is now a major event and counts among Switzerland's major film festivals. Dedication to presenting the latest animated films attracts a large audience.


As with theatre, the music scene comprises renowned professional ensembles and any number of musical societies, amateur choirs and music-making groups. Collectively, they cover a whole spectrum of musical genres from traditional folk music, through brass band, jazz, blues, rock and pop, to classical, where the Argovia Philharmonic Orchestra is the flagship exponent of the genre. The CHAARTS chamber orchestra, the Capriccio baroque orchestra and the Klanc concert chorus count among the other ensembles and orchestras enrapturing concertgoers with their innovative programmes. Chamber music of international stature can be heard at the Künstlerhaus Boswil and the Solsberg Festival, which is under the directorship of cellist Sol Gabetta. The Lenzburgiade at Lenzburg Castle presents outstanding classical music along with international folk. Aargau furthermore has a rich operetta tradition: there are several stages where people by the thousands flock to productions. Rock and pop aficionados can hear international concerts at several venues, foremost among them is the KiFF in Aarau, the most-attended concert venue in the canton. There is jazz too, for example at the popular Musig im Pflegidach concert seasons in Muri. For summer musical enjoyment, there are open-air concerts and opera at Hallwil Castle. The canton of Aargau is home to one of the highest concentrations of festivals in Switzerland, among them the Heitere in Zofingen, One of a Million in Baden, the Openair Gränichen, Zamba Loca in Wohlen and the bandXaargau talent festival.


The literature of Aargau is frequently set here and takes the region as its source of inspiration, for example in the narrative works of Klaus Merz, Hermann Burger, Christian Haller, Michel Mettler, Andreas Neeser, Claudia Storz and Silvio Blatter. Works by writers from Aargau feature regularly on the programme of the Aargauer Literaturhaus in Lenzburg. The Seetaler Poesiesommer, a Swiss festival of literary culture with a cross-language and cross-border orientation, has its home in Aargau. Literary works from the guest country at the Frankfurt Book Fair are on the programme at the Zofingen Literature Days in October, while the biennial Brugg Literature Days presents German-language authors. The canton's 90 or so municipal public libraries enrich local cultural life through their staging of various events.

There is truly plenty of inspiration to be found in the canton of Aargau. And that benefits me, too.

Sol GabettaCellist