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The main street of APPENZELL is car-free Hauptgasse,running from a bridge over the River Sitter at the entrance to the village west for 300m or so to the broad, open Landsgemeindeplatz; it’s worth a wander along to admire the intricately painted old wooden houses with their rows of small, closely packed windows – Löwen Drogerie, a pharmacy at no. 20, has a particularly gorgeous facade with depictions of herbs and flowers. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the embroidery industry of nearby St Gallen relied upon thousands of women working by hand from home, with the intricate embroidery of Appenzell particularly highly prized: the upstairs rooms in these buildings, flooded by daylight through the lines of windows, were used as workshops. Hand-embroidery flourished into the first half of the twentieth century, and is still carried on by a few specialists here and there, with workshops often located on atmospheric and characterful back alleys.
In the same building as the tourist office you’ll find the Appenzell Museum, Hauptgasse 4 (April–Oct daily 10am–noon & 2–5pm; Nov–March Tues–Sun 2–4pm; Fr.5; SMP). The collection of interesting examples of local carpentry and crafts is spread out over six floors, spilling over onto the upper floors of the arcaded Rathaus next door: highlights include many pieces of nineteenth-century Appenzell hand-embroidery, religious art, and militaria from Claux Castle, the ruins of which are visible on a nearby hilltop. Don’t miss the short videos shown on demand in a viewing room on the ground floor – the one on local musical traditions is especially good. A few steps to the east of the museum is the Church of St Mauritius, much more ornate than you would expect for a relatively small country village. Its Baroque interior, the high altar flanked by gold figures, is oddly asymmetrical, with the choir off kilter and the southern half of the church broader than the northern half.
Often overlooked by visitors, but worth sniffing out, is the Museum Liner, on the edge of the village at Unterrainstrasse 5 (April–Oct Thurs & Fri 2–5pm, Sat & Sun 11am–5pm; Fr.8; www.museumliner.ch). This gallery, devoted to the work of father-and-son local artists Carl August Liner and Carl Walter Liner, is interesting mainly for its boldly conceived, postmodern design in steel by the Zürich partnership of Annette Gigon and Mike Guyer. Exhibitions of the Liners’ uninspiring modernistic art are made more appealing by the addition of changing exhibits of mainly Swiss contemporary works.
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