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Schaffhausen in 2012
Schaffhausen in 2012
Coat of arms of Schaffhausen
Coat of arms
Schaffhausen is located in Switzerland
Location in Switzerland
Schaffhausen is located in Canton of Schaffhausen
Location in Canton of Schaffhausen
Country Switzerland
Canton Schaffhausen
District (None in canton of Schaffhausen)
 • Total 41.85 km2 (16.16 sq mi)
403 m (1,322 ft)
 (Dec 2020 )
 • Total 36,952
 • Density 882.96/km2 (2,286.86/sq mi)
Postal code
8200, 8203, 8207, 8208, 8231 Hemmental
Localities Schaffhausen, Breite, Gruben, Buchthalen, St. Niklausen, Herblingen, Hauental, Hemmental
Surrounded by Beringen, Büsingen am Hochrhein (DE-BW), Büttenhardt, Dörflingen, Feuerthalen (ZH), Flurlingen (ZH), Merishausen, Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Stetten, Thayngen
Twin towns Sindelfingen (Germany), Singen am Hohentwiel (Germany), Dobrich (Bulgaria)
Imperial City of Schaffhausen

Reichsstadt Schaffhausen
1190 or 1218–1330
Status Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire
Capital Schaffhausen
Government Republic
Historical era Middle Ages
• Gained Reichsfreiheit
betw 1190 and 1218
• Pledged to Habsburgs
• Bought independence
• Associate member of
    Swiss Confederacy
• Joined Switzerland
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Imperial Abbey of All Saints in Schaffhausen All Saints' Abbey (Switzerland)
Canton of Schaffhausen Canton of Schaffhausen
Imperial Abbey of All Saints in Schaffhausen

Reichskloster Allerheiligen, Schaffhausen
Status Imperial Abbey of the Holy Roman Empire
Capital Schaffhausen
Government Principality
Historical era Middle Ages
• Consecrated (Leo IX)
22 November 1049
• Papal grant of
    Nellenburg lands
• Gained Hiltensweiler
• City became
    Swiss Associate
• City joined Switz.
• Converted to
    monastery and
    cathedral church
• Disestablished in
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Landgraviate of Nellenburg Landgraviate of Nellenburg
Canton of Schaffhausen Canton of Schaffhausen

Schaffhausen is a town with historic roots, a municipality in northern Switzerland, and the capital of the canton of the same name; it has an estimated population of 36,000 as of December 2016. It is located right next to the shore of the High Rhine; it is one of four Swiss towns located on the northern side of the Rhine, along with Neuhausen a. Rhf., the historic Neunkirch, and Stein a. Rh..

The old portion of the town has many fine Renaissance era buildings decorated with exterior frescos and sculpture, as well as the old canton fortress, the Munot. Schaffhausen is also a railway junction of Swiss and German rail networks. One of the lines connects the town with the nearby Rhine Falls in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Europe's largest waterfall, a tourist attraction.

The official language of Schaffhausen is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.


The town is first mentioned in 1045 as Villa Scafhusun. There are at least two theories on the origin of this name:

  • One relates to a mention of a "ford" across the Rhine that first occurs in 1050. This "ford" may actually refer to a scapha or skiff which was used to disembark goods coming from Constance to move them around the Rhine Falls. The name Scafhusun then arose from the scapha used at that point.
  • Another theory is that Scafhusun comes from Schaf (a sheep), as a ram (now a sheep) formed the ancient arms (traceable to 1049) of the town, derived from those of its founders, the counts of Nellenburg.


Schaffhausen was a city state in the Middle Ages, documented to have struck its own coins from 1045. About 1050 the counts of Nellenburg founded the Benedictine monastery of All Saints, which became the centre of the town. Perhaps as early as 1190, certainly in 1208, it was an imperial free city, while the first seal dates from 1253. The powers of the abbot were gradually limited and in 1277 the Emperor Rudolf I gave the town a charter of liberties. In 1330 the emperor Louis of Bavaria pledged it to the Habsburgs. In the early 15th century, Habsburg power over the city waned. By 1411 the guilds ruled the city. Then, in 1415 the Habsburg Duke Frederick IV of Austria sided with the Antipope John XXIII at the Council of Constance, and was banned by the Emperor Sigismund. As a result of the ban and Frederick's need of money, Schaffhausen was able to buy its independence from the Habsburgs in 1418. The city allied with six of the Swiss confederates in 1454 and allied with a further two (Uri and Unterwalden) in 1479. Schaffhausen became a full member of the Old Swiss Confederacy in 1501.

The Reformation was adopted, initially, in 1524 and completely in 1529. The town was heavily damaged during the Thirty Years' War by the passage of Swedish (Protestant) and Bavarian (Roman Catholic) troops and the very important bridge was burnt down. It was not until the early 19th century that the arrested industrial development of the town made a fresh start. In 1857 the first railroad, the Rheinfallbahn running from Winterthur, reached Schaffhausen.

Schaffhausen is located in a finger of Swiss territory surrounded on three sides by Germany. On 1 April 1944 Schaffhausen suffered a bombing raid by United States Army Air Forces aircraft which strayed from German airspace into neutral Switzerland due to navigation errors. Air raid sirens had often sounded in the past, without an actual attack, so many residents ignored the sirens that day. A total of 40 civilians were killed in the raid. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent a personal letter of apology to the mayor of Schaffhausen and the United States quickly offered four million US dollars in reparations.

Geography and climate


The town of Schaffhausen stands on the right bank of the river Rhine. It has an area, (as of the 2004/09 survey) of 41.85 km2 (16.16 sq mi). Of this area, about 20.2% is used for agricultural purposes, while 53.4% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 24.8% is settled (buildings or roads) and 1.6% is unproductive land. Over the past two decades (1979/85-2004/09) the amount of land that is settled has increased by 95 ha (230 acres) and the agricultural land has decreased by 117 ha (290 acres).

In 1947 it merged with the former municipality of Buchthalen. Its area expanded again in 1964 when Herblingen was absorbed and for a third time in 2009 when Hemmental joined the municipality.

Schaffhausen shares an international border with the German village of Büsingen am Hochrhein, an exclave entirely surrounded by Switzerland.


Schaffhausen has an average of 122.5 days of rain or snow per year and on average receives 907 mm (35.7 in) of precipitation. The wettest month is July during which time Schaffhausen receives an average of 95 mm (3.7 in) of rain. During this month there is precipitation for an average of 11.3 days. The driest month of the year is February with an average of 59 mm (2.3 in) of precipitation over 8.4 days.


Schaffhausen has some well-known industrial companies (Georg Fischer) in piping systems, machine tools and automotives, one internationally-reputed watches manufacturer (IWC), and drug industry (Cilag, founded by Bernhard Joos).

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