A city of about 37,000, Schaffhausen was from the early Middle Ages on an important depot for river cargoes, which—because of the rapids and waterfall farther along—had to be unloaded there. The name Schaffhausen is probably derived from the skiff houses along the riverbank. The city has a small but beautiful Altstadt (Old Town), whose charm lies in its extraordinary preservation; examples of late-Gothic, baroque, and rococo architecture line the streets. Though the town can sometimes feel like a museum, these buildings are very much in use, often as shops or restaurants, and lively crowds of shoppers and strollers throng the streets. Many streets (including Vorstadt, Fronwagplatz, Vordergasse, and Unterstadt) are pedestrian-only.


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