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Canton Aargau: uncharted waters: almost anyone who crosses Switzerland passes through Aargau to get from one part of the country to another. So why not pause for a moment in this uncharted canton?


With optimal connections to nearby foreign countries, Aargau also lies within an hour's drive of hubs like Zurich, Basel, Bern and Lucerne. More locally, it is known in many ways: as the canton of indulgence, the canton of water and the Wasserschloss of Switzerland--due to the convergence of three important rivers, the Aare, Reuss and Limmat.

Rural recreation areas, highly developed industrial centres, historical cities and new culture in the making--all are here in Aargau, highly prized by people and companies alike.

One thing is clear: Aargau is a place where you can live and enjoy, work and invest, or simply take an excursion or a holiday. It is a canton to be discovered.

Among the fastest growing areas in Switzerland, with an area of 1,400 [km.sup.2] and some 600,000 inhabitants, it is Switzerland's fourth largest canton in terms of its economic output and population.

Fourth largest hub

Rivers and lakes in the 'canton of water' have played significant roles in its evolution: they quickly fostered transit routes, and were the foundation of a market for electricity--still successful today--which has made Aargau a leading research and technology location. The establishments of ABB, Alstom and Axpo in Aargau testify to the canton's prominence as an energy generator and distributor.

And Aargau has the largest industrial sector of all the Swiss cantons by population, with 34 per cent of all workers in industry, compared with a Swiss average of 24 per cent. The most important are plastics and materials technology, machines and life sciences. And the regions of Baden, Brugg and Fricktal are among the most productive in Switzerland.

On one hand, global players such as ABB, Alstom, Roche, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson make Aargau's industrial landscape prominent. But on the other, the canton's 30,500 companies, totalling 260,000 employees, comprise mainly small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs).

This connection between the research institutes of multinationals such as ABB Corporate Research in Dattwil, and the innovation performance of SMEs increases the location's attractiveness enormously.

In the area of company start-ups Aargau occupies one of the top spots in Switzerland. This is in no small part due to synergies between educational and research institutes. The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen is one of the biggest national research institutes for natural and engineering sciences in terms of employee base, and its name is recognised internationally.


It employs 1,200 people in the areas of materials sciences (including nanotechnology), solid state and particle physics, biology and medicine.

And the PSI operates the first radiation therapy facility for the treatment of tumours with proton radiation.

The canton promotes company innovation, as evidenced in the founding of Technopark Aargau in Windisch, and in the ongoing transfer of knowledge and technology between area businesses and institutes of higher learning.

The canton invests in its future through a quality educational system.

The University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland is one of the strongest venues of research in Switzerland, and the proximity to universities in Zurich, Basel and Bern and to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) is attractive not only for students but also for enterprises.

Albert Einstein, himself, attended the Cantonal School in Aargau--a harbinger of the continuing dedication to learning.

Fine living, less taxing

In 2006 voters in Aargau approved a comprehensive tax reduction package making the fourth largest canton more fiscally attractive than all other midland cantons--including Zurich and Bern. It offers deductions in corporate taxation, low taxation of property and a family-friendly taxation system with balanced-income taxation and high deductions for children.

Contrary to Zurich, Basel and Bern, Canton Aargau shows an above average proportion of home ownership. This is due to affordable land that is not as readily available in more densely populated cantons. A 2005 ranking by the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP) listed Aarau and Baden among the top 12 Swiss cities in quality of life.

A long-term factor for the excellent living conditions is prudent management of natural resources. For a long time, Aargau has played a leading role as regards its agricultural policy.


Two nationally important organisations are represented by the Research Institute for Organic Land Use (FIBL)--located in Frick since 1973 and engaged in extensive research and development of organic land use on an international level--and the Biopartner AG (the most important partner of organic produce traders).

Spa city

There are countless picturesque places and unique cultural institutions, which warrant discovery in Aargau.

A trip through Aargau leads you back to the first century before Christ: excavations inform about life in the Roman colony Augusta Raurica in 44 B.C. in Kaiseraugst. In Windisch you will see the Roman legion's camp Vindonissa, which was the Empire's most important military base in Switzerland. A recently excavated officers' kitchen illustrates culinary practices of the day.

Following the Roman tracks will lead visitors further east of Aargau. Even today thermal springs can be enjoyed in the spa city of Baden. Alongside Baden are health resorts in the communities of Bad Zurzach, Rheinfelden and Schinznach. The revitalising thermal waters entice some two million visitors per year.

Romans and Habsburgs--the cradle of our cultural identity

Of historical interest are the 12 medieval cities from Aarau to Bremgarten, Laufenburg to Zofingen. Each is worth a visit.

A pearly chain of historical castles and monasteries runs through the canton: from Habsburg (sometimes written Hapsburg in English translations), Hallwyl, Lenzburg to Wildegg, not to mention the monastery churches Konigsfelden, Muri, Fahr and Wettingen. The stained glass series in the monastery church Konigsfelden in Windisch is considered Aargau's most significant cultural artefact of European rank.


Also located in the canton is this country's family seat of the Habsburgs, whose dynasty was first documented some 900 years ago. In 2008, special events will mark the auspicious history of this once mighty aristocracy, which lost an important monarch with the assassination of King Albrecht I, in K6nigsfelden, 700 years ago.

You can still sense the chivalry and romance of those bygone days in Aargau's castles, some of which offer their banquet halls and restaurants for celebrations. Among the best are the Lenzburg Castle, where poet Frank Wedekind spent his youth, and Hallwyl Castle, which is surrounded by a picturesque moat.

And, in some 70 museums, Aargau offers multifaceted worlds of discovery for every age group and taste.

The highlights are the Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, which contains the most significant collection of Swiss art, and was recently expanded according to the design of star architects Herzog & de Meuron.

In addition, the Naturama Aarau natural museum contributes to the sustainable development of the canton through its internationally recognised exhibitions, research and referral activities. Stapferhaus Lenzburg stands among the most innovative museums in the Germanspeaking world; their next exhibit shows how we become children of our time, how we dream of existing outside of time, and how time is always moving faster.

Bygone eras have a new spin

The Langmatt Museum in Baden houses masterpieces of impressionism; here visitors can book a unique 'picnic-in-the-park' offering. The museum is found in the former villa of Sidney and Jenny Brown, the founding generation of BBC, today known as ABB. Also worth seeing is the Villa Boveri in Baden where concerts and literary events are held; it can also be rented for celebrations and parties.


The spectrum of museums extends to such rarities as the Straw Museum in Wohlen, which documents the significance of the community of Freiamt in the world of straw crafts like boater hats, bonnet ornaments and horsehair bobbin laces at the turn of the 19th century. The Kindermuseum (Children's Museum) in Baden shows the development of children's lives and toys, while letting visitors play and experiment in its 20 rooms.

The Musee Bizarre in Rieden near Baden houses the mysterious story of Professor Pilzbarth as well as the whimsical Mouse Museum.

Fortress Museum Reuenthal exhibits original armaments and equipment from the time of the Second World War, and the Military Museum Full displays tanks and defence artillery. And don't forget the Bruno Weber sculpture park, the largest art park in Switzerland exhibiting larger-than-life figures and accessible sculptures in a surrealist style on 20,000 [m.sup.2].

Untouched landscapes and Jurassic discoveries

Our canton is not graced with a Matterhorn, but the Jura has fantastic fossils and a complete skeleton of a Plateosaurus in the Dinosaur Museum in Frick. Hiking trails lead past floodplain forests, over the hills and ridges of the Tafeljura, where a practiced eye can still find many an ammonite or belemnite.

The people of Aargau were the first in Switzerland to protect their floodplain landscapes, which today make up a good one per cent of the canton surface. A critical juncture, easily explored by canoe, is found at the Wasserschloss, where the Aare, Reuss and Limmat rivers flow together.


The canton's landscape encourages not only relaxation, but also a variety of sports activities. Whether bicycling on the banks of Aargau's rivers or mountain biking in the Jura, cyclists get their fill thanks to the largest network of cycling trails in Switzerland. Sports fans will enjoy Cycle Sport Days in Gippingen, horse races at the Schachen in Aarau or the half marathon on Lake Hallwil.

In fact, anything is possible, from playing a round of golf to sailing on Lake Hallwil or hopping a sightseeing flight from the small plane airport in Birrfeld.

Night becomes day

Entertainment variety is assured as well. Many small theatres such as the Theater Tuchlaube in Aarau, the Kellertheater in Bremgarten or the ThIK Theater in the Kornhaus in Baden put on exciting productions. As far as classical music goes, the Aargau Symphony Orchestra sets the tone. Opera fans should not miss the open-air opera at the Hallwyl Castle during the summer of 2009.

Events take place year-round across Aargau. The city of Baden alone holds annual festivals, though in alternate years, in September, such as the animated film festival Fantoche (2007) and the Figura Theater Festival (2008). Top attractions include The Blues Festival in May and the summer open-air theatre.


Other festivals include the 'Heitere' in Zofingen, an open-air event with internationally renowned pop and rock bands. While the Boswil Summer Festival presents an intimate setting for chamber music lovers.

Festivals also draw visitors to the monastery church Konigsfelden, the Cistercian Monastery Wettingen and the Monastery Muri.

Faites vos jeux draws nightly crowds to the Grand Casino Baden, one of the seven casinos with an A-license in Switzerland. Beginners can also try their luck with the 'gamble & dine' package--an introduction to various games. Not to worry about driving, as the casino shuttle whisks players home late into the night.

Aargau's restaurants are well represented in gastronomic guides, meaning that visitors will find more than traditional carrot cake on the menu. Traditional country houses dish up Aargau specialities, small city restaurants prepare innovative cuisine, and castle restaurants dish up a wondrous atmosphere. The guidebook specialises in restaurant searches in the Aargau-Solothurn region.

Fine dining includes fine wine, which is cultivated in various locations throughout Aargau on some 500 hectares. And you can learn more about the history of wine and its production at Aargau's Wine Museum in Tegerfelden.

High-proof liquors and tobacco are native to Aargau, with fine schnapps distilled in Kaser's Castle (Kasers Schloss) by Ruedi Kaser in over 100 varieties, from 'simple' berry and fruit brandies to 'fir tip' schnapps and even chocolate or carrot schnapps. Tobacco cultivation and processing enjoyed a heyday in Aargau's Lake Valley before the end of the 19th century, as portrayed by an exhibit in Hallwyl Castle.

Aargau Services:

We advise, support and connect you Aargau Services, the official economic promotion organisation of Canton Aargau, supports enterprises and investors to help them realise their business projects swiftly and without bureaucracy.

And Aargau Services offers a one-stop-shop as the central hub for economic and location enquiries as well as necessary contact information. Services include nurturing relations with enterprises in Aargau, and supporting local and foreign companies interested in establishing branches here. An important contribution to growth of the cantonal economy is the active promotion of new, local enterprises and the targeted acquisition of companies abroad.

Information on site selection, questions of approvals, taxation and financing can be found at:

Cultural sites:

Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Collection of Swiss art, presented in a building enlarged by star architects Herzog & de Meuron.

Naturama Aargau, Travel through time from the world of dinosaurs and mammoths to the animals and plants of the local natural environment.

Museum Aargau, Castle of Lenzburg and Hallwyl Castle The Castle of Lenzburg offers an overview of 600 years of culture and a splendid view of the Limmat Valley. Hallwyl Castle lies on Lake Hallwil, one of the prettiest excursion destinations in Canton Aargau. The exhibition in the castle presents the life of the Hallwyl family and their subjects from the Middle Ages to the modern period.

Museum Langmatt, The industrial tycoon villa, built in 1900- 1901, houses a significant impressionist collection including works from Renoir, Cezanne und Monet.

Kindermuseum Baden, The museum, showing 300 years of children's culture, is suitable for children and adults.

Musee Bizarre in Rieden bei Baden, This institution houses the Mouse Museum and the museum depicting the 'peculiar bathing cure' of Professor Pilzbarth.

Bruno Weber Sculpture Park, Nature meets art in this surreal park, where visitors can explore larger-than-life sculptures.

Monastery Muri, The proud baroque structure is the religious and cultural centre of Freiamt, resting place of the last imperial Habsburg couple, Empress Zita and Emperor Karl I.

Monastery church Konigsfelden, Known for its 14th century glass windows, it is located near the seat of the Habsburg family amid Roman archaeological excavations of Vindonissa.

Kaser's Castle (Kasers Schloss) of Brandy, Showing more than 100 schnapps, the first whiskey in Switzerland, and first class cuisine.

Thermal baths in Aargau:

Health Resort Rheinfelden, with its salt-water bath 'sole uno', Finnish sauna and oriental hammam.

Aquarena Bad Schinznach, wellness oasis in a floodplain park.

Bad Zurzach, with an SPA Medical Wellness Centre

Baths in Baden:,,,,,

Life in Aargau:

Entrepreneur's platform:


Aargau Services

Dr. Walter Cadosch, Director Economic Promotion

Annelise Alig Anderhalden, Dipl. Ing. ETH Project Leader

Rain 47, Postfach, 5001 Aarau

Telephone: +41 (0)62 835 24 40, Fax: +41 (0)62 835 24 19

Cultural and tourist offerings:,


c/o Aarau Information Office

Esther Kuster

Graben 42, Postbox

5001 Aarau

Telephone: +41 (0)62 824 76 24

We acknowledge and thank the following firms and institutions for their friendly support: Gerry Thonen, Laufenburg (photo page 32) Aquarena Bad Schinznach (photo page 34) ABB Semiconductors AG, Lenzburg (photo page 36) Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, Villigen (photo page 36) Museum Aargau (photo page 37)

Basic information: Canton Aargau


Capital: Aarau

Area: 1,404 [km.sup.2]

Inhabitants: 579,489

Population density: 409 p/[km.sup.2]

Entry to Swiss Federation: 1803

Abbreviation: AG

Languages: German

COPYRIGHT 2007 Swiss News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:CANTON PROFILE
Publication:Swiss News
Article Type:Company overview
Geographic Code:4EXSI
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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