Delémont, the capital of Canton Jura

Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe Renauld | Live the World

November 23, 2022

In the northwestern part of Switzerland, Canton Jura is a lovely woody and rural state. The Jura Mountains and its highlands occupy most of the south, while the north is mostly flat (plateau). On the west side of the Röstigraben (the cultural border between French and German-speaking areas of Switzerland), Canton Jura is essentially French-speaking. Ederswiler is the only exception where the official language is German. In this story, we are happy to invite you to discover Delémont, the capital of Canton Jura, the youngest Swiss state (1979).

Delémont: a long history

The oldest human evidence in the region is witnessed in settlements dating back to the Bronze Age. The place has been occupied ever since. Traces of Roman foundations are still visible today.

The first acknowledgment of the old “Delemonte” dates back to the 8th century. Only a hamlet at first, Delémont grew during the Middle Ages to become a fortified town. Of the four gates -passageways through the fortified walls, two are still in excellent condition today: the “Porte de Porrentruy” (Porrentruy Gate) and “Porte au loup” (The Wolf’s Gate). Today’s charming downtown is still packed with many medieval buildings.

© Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe

Furthermore, Delémont hosts six late Renaissance style fountains. They all date back to the 16th century. Ornamented fountains are considered a typical Swiss architectural element; many of them can be found not only in Delémont but also in several other Swiss cities (see, for example, Solothurn). These fountains are picturesque monuments today, but they were vital for the locals at the time of their construction.

© Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe
© Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe

Notwithstanding all of these medieval and renaissance buildings, most of Delémont has been rebuilt throughout the 18th century.

Not to miss

Overlooking the surrounding valley, the Catholic Saint-Marcel church dates back to the 18th century. It replaced an ancient gothic sanctuary. This church definitely deserves a visit: it is decorated in late Baroque and Neoclassical styles. You will also find fine woodwork inside; notably the 18th-century organ.

© Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe

The imposing Prince-Bishop’s Castle stands proudly in the south-western part of the old town. Built between 1716-1721 to displace an older Medieval castle, today, the summer residence of the Prince-Bishop Jean-Conrad de Reinach-Hirtzbach hosts a primary school. Unfortunately, it cannot be visited. The surroundings of this Baroque castle should not be missed, though! The castle’s garden is open to the public.

The Jurassic Museum of Art and History of Delémont is located right next to the castle. It exhibits collections about the history of the region and, more specifically of Canton Jura. A wide variety of activities is available to all visitors.

© Marie-Madeleine & Giuseppe

Around Delémont

The “Sentier Auguste Quiquerez” is a marked trail following the history of the scientist Auguste Quiquerez. Born in 1801, Quiquerez wrote many texts about his wanderings and the geology, the fauna and the flora of Canton Jura. He knew well the region surrounding Delémont since he had discovered it through his long walks in the countryside. This 13-kilometer long walk invites you to see the beautiful area surrounding Delémont through his eyes.

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