Brugg, der schwarze Turm, 12. Jahrhundert. Foto/Photo: TES

Two Empires in Brugg and Windisch

Two empires left their mark on the Brugg-Windisch region (Canton Aargau). The Roman Legionary Park Vindonissa (Windisch) and the city of Brugg in the Habsburg Empire were important military and administrative sites.

Roman Empire

The army camp for a Roman legion (about 5,000 troops and officers) was built around 15 AD to guard the border (Limes) with the Germanic tribes. Many remains of buildings recall the centuries-long stay of the Romans. Moreover, several complexes have been partially or fully rebuilt or renovated as replicas.

The Contuberna (soldiers’ quarters) and the villas of senior officers and the commander have been rebuilt in the Legionary Park. The walls, towers and entrance gates (the porta principalus (west gate), the porta praetoria (south gate) and the porta decumana (north gate), the balneum (bathhouse), the valetudinarium (hospital) and the aqueduct, among others, can be seen.

Switzerland’s oldest amphitheatre (11,000 spectators) is outside the camp. Moreover, the Romans introduced viticulture. Roman viticulture is still being cultivated in four places (römische Rebberge).

The Vindonissa Museum recounts the Roman presence through numerous archaeological finds and extensive documentation.


The Habsburgs built their castle Havichsburg, later Habsburg, a few kilometres from Brugg. After this castle lost its strategic significance in the 13th century, Brugg’s importance increased.

On the site of the former legionary camp, Queen Elisabeth (1285-1353), the widow of King Albert I (1255-1308), who was murdered in 1308, founded two monasteries and built the monastery church Königsfelden in memory of her husband. Albert I was buried in Speyer Cathedral, but until 1528, Habsburg descendants were buried and commemorated in the monastery church by Franciscan monks and nuns of the order of Clarisses.

The beautiful Gothic glass windows date from the years 1330-1350. In addition, the church was a memorial to the knights killed at the battle of Sempach in 1386.

The bear of Bern and the coat of arms of Austria-Habsburg, 1669. The upper class of Bern was also buried in the monastery church of Königsfelden, so great was Habsburg’s prestige.

The monastery was dissolved in 1528, and the Franciscan convent was subsequently demolished. Today, the remaining buildings are used as (psychiatric) hospitals and archives.