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The wooden bridge, dating from the Middle Ages, across the Aare was destroyed by floods three times in thirty years, and was replaced with a steel suspension bridge in 1851. The city was linked up to the Swiss Central Railway in 1856.

The Roman road between Salodurum (Solothurn) and Vindonissa passed through the area, along the route now covered by the Bahnhofstrasse.

In 1976 divers in the Aare found part of a seven-meter wide wooden bridge from the late Roman times.

The town was ruled from the "Rore" tower, which has been incorporated into the modern city hall. Agnes of Kyburg, who had no male relations, sold the family's lands to King Rudolf I von Habsburg. In the 14th century the city was expanded in two stages, and a second defensive wall was constructed.

A deep ditch separated the city from its "suburb;" its location is today marked by a wide street named "Graben" (meaning Ditch).

These highly educated immigrants were also responsible for educational reform and the enlightened, revolutionary spirit that developed in Aarau.

On 27 December 1797, the last Tagsatzung of the Old Swiss Confederacy was held in Aarau.A few artifacts from the Neolithic period were found in Aarau.Near the location of the present train station, the ruins of a settlement from the Bronze Age (about 1000 BC) have been excavated.Aarau and the nearby neighboring municipalities have grown together and now form an interconnected agglomeration.The only exception is Unterentfelden whose settlements are divided from Aarau by the extensive forests of Gönhard and Zelgli.It is German-speaking and predominantly Protestant. Aarau is situated on the Swiss plateau, in the valley of the Aare, on the river's right bank, and at the southern foot of the Jura Mountains, Newer districts of the city lie to the south and east of the outcrop, as well as higher up the mountain, and in the valley on both sides of the Aare.

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