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History comes alive

Hallwyl castle's toilets and bathtubs - up close

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An exhibition called ‘Toilet and hot bath’ at Halllwyl castle in Aargau explains how basic hygiene was maintained over the centuries. Specialists show how soap was made, washing was done and clean water brought to the castle.

Hallwyl has two castle buildings surrounded by a moat for their protection. It was only attacked once in its history in 1415 by federal troops passing through the canton. They set the castle on fire.

The Hallwyl family were lesser nobles. They administered the lands of the royal German Habsburg family, who owned nearby Lenzburg castle. The Hallwyls lived in their castle until the 20th century, when the site  was taken over by a foundation. It was later donated to the canton of Aargau.

 Johans I, who lived in the 14th century, was the most famous member of the Hallwyl family. Through service to the Habsburgs he managed to greatly increase the importance and prestige of his own family. Information about him is on display in the ‘Rittersaal’, the knight’s hall, which served as a dining room. The hall has an adjacent privy built into an alcove with no door, so that people on the toilet could converse with family members eating their dinner.