The Baroque City of Switzerland
Solothurn (Soleure in French) is also called the most baroque city of Switzerland and not without reason. The heyday of the town was in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Solothurn had already joined the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft in 1481. Because of the friendly and business ties with France, the city housed the French Embassy until 1792. Especially the Swiss mercenaries, coveted by the French king, were lucrative.
One of the most prestigious buildings is the St. Ursen Cathedral. The first foundations date back to the Middle Ages. The current cathedral was built in 1762-1773 by the architect Gaetano Matteo Pisoni (1713-1782) from Ascona. He was mainly inspired by the baroque churches in Rome. His cousin Paolo Antonio Pisoni (1738-1804) designed the impressive stairs with the two fountains also after the example of Rome. The architecture of the interior, however, is subdued with shapes derived from the classics. The exuberant and brightly coloured Baroque decoration is also missing. The decoration is more in line with French classicism.
Solothurn is also the seat of the diocese of Basel, a legacy of the Reformation. In the period 1525-1529, the bishop of this (large and powerful prince-bishopric) moved his seat first to Pruntrut (Porrentruy) and then from 1828 to Solothurn.