Monasteries in Switzerland

Abbey of Saint Gall

The Abbey of Saint Gall has existed at least since 747 AD and became an independent principality between 9th and 13th centuries, and was for many centuries one of the chief Benedictine abbeys in Europe. The Abbey of St Gall is an outstanding example of a large Carolingian monastery and was, since the 8th century until its secularisation in 1805, one of the most important cultural centres in Europe. The library at ...
Founded: 747 AD | Location: St. Gallen, Switzerland

St. George's Abbey

Around 1007, Emperor Henry II moved St. George"s Abbey from its former location on the Hohentwiel in Singen to Stein am Rhein — at that time, little more than a small fishing village on the Rhine. The move was a means to strengthen his presence at this strategic point, where major roads and river routes intersected. He gave the abbots extensive rights over Stein and its trade so that they could develop it co ...
Founded: 1007 | Location: Stein am Rhein, Switzerland

Capuchin Friary

The Capuchin Friary is situated to the west of the city of Rapperswil, below the Lindenhof of Rapperswil Castle on the shore of Lake Zürich on a peninsula called the Endingerhorn. The friary was established in 1606, consisting originally of only four priests and three brothers (friars), as a Roman Catholic counterpart to the centre of the Reformation in Zürich. The monastic buildings were built by the citize ...
Founded: 1606 | Location: Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland

Appenzell Monastery

A first convent for women in Appenzell was officially mentioned in 1420/21. In 1613, four Capuchin nuns from Wonnenstein and five from Grimmenstein met with the sisters of the old convent to form a new community in Appenzell. The construction of the monastery church took place in 1619-1621. The monastery was built in 1679-1682.
Founded: 1420 | Location: Appenzell, Switzerland

Romainmôtier Priory

Romainmôtier Priory is a former Cluniac priory founded around 450 AD by Romanus of Condat. The monastery church of Romainmôtier is one of the most important examples of Cluniac Romanesque art in Switzerland. Excavations carried out in 1905-15 discovered traces of a church dating from the 5th century, which confirmed this early date. In the 6th century, there is a record of an abbot Florianus who was abbas ex monas ...
Founded: 450 AD | Location: Romainmôtier-Envy, Switzerland

Interlaken Monastery

The provost of the Interlaken Monastery was first mentioned in 1133 when Holy Roman Emperor Lothair took the Monastery, founded by Baron Seliger of Oberhofen, under his protection. The Monastery was part of the diocese of Lausanne. According to the deed of 1133, the members of the Monastery were allowed to choose their own provost and kastvogt or bailiff over a religious institution. During the 12th century the pro ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Interlaken, Switzerland

Einsiedeln Abbey

Einsiedeln Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in the village of Einsiedeln. The abbey is dedicated to Our Lady of the Hermits, the title being derived from the circumstances of its foundation, for the first inhabitant of the region was Saint Meinrad, a hermit. It has been a major resting point on the Way of St. James for centuries. According a legend, Eberhard, previously Provost of Strassburg, erected in 934 a monastery a ...
Founded: 10th century AD | Location: Einsiedeln, Switzerland

Payerne Priory

Payerne Priory was founded between 950 and 960 by the Burgundy royal family and especially by Queen Bertha of Burgundy. In 965, the Empress Adelaide placed the priory under Cluny Abbey. On 2 February 1033, Emperor Conrad II held an assembly, was elected, and crowned King of Burgundy at the abbey. In the first half of the 12th century, the monks falsified a number of documents as 'Testament of Queen Bertha'. ...
Founded: 950-960 AD | Location: Payerne, Switzerland

Allerheiligen Abbey Church

Kloster Allerheiligen (All Saints abbey) is a former Benedictine monastery in Schaffhausen. Today the convent houses the Museum zu Allerheiligen, an art museum and a natural history museum, the monastery garden, and the buildings of the former convent, including the library. History The development of the city of Schaffhausen is closely linked to the Nellenburg noble family who became extinct around 1100 AD. V ...
Founded: 1049 | Location: Schaffhausen, Switzerland

Capuchin Monastery

The monastery, where Capuchin monks used to live between the years 1595 and 1997, is somewhat hidden in the outer area of the Old Town of Zug. As it became difficult to find new recruits, the Capuchin monks abandoned the site and now the Corporation of Zug is the owner of the monastery, which since 2000 has become the Catholic 'Community of the Beatitudes', to serve the poor and the spread the Gospel.
Founded: 1595 | Location: Zug, Switzerland

Saint John Abbey

The Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair, located in a valley of the Grisons in the extreme south-eastern part of Switzerland, south of the Alps, was founded around 775, probably on the orders of Charlemagne. At the beginning of the 9th century it was noted as being an establishment of religious Benedictines, and became a women’s abbey in the first half of the 12th century. Religious activities have continued unin ...
Founded: c. 775 AD | Location: Val Müstair, Switzerland

Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Priory Church

Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Priory was founded in 1090-1097. The church, built in two stages between the 11th and 12th centuries, was initially dedicated to Saint Sulpice, later to St. Mary Magdalene. It was also used as a parish church in the Middle Ages and was flanked by a priory buildings, now destroyed. The church passed to Protestants following the Bernese conquest of 1536.
Founded: 1090-1097 | Location: Saint-Sulpice, Switzerland

Rheinau Abbey

Rheinau Abbey (Kloster Rheinau) was a Benedictine monastery in Rheinau founded about 778 and suppressed in 1862. It is located on an island in the Rhine. The foundation of the abbey, on a strategically sheltered bend of the Rhine, is supposed to have taken place in about 778. The abbey is first documented however in the 11th century. In 1114 a Romanesque basilica was dedicated here and in 1120 the still extant ar ...
Founded: 778 AD | Location: Rheinau, Switzerland

Disentis Abbey

Formerly the date of the foundation of Disentis Abbey, attributed to the local saints Placidus and Sigisbert, was held to be 614. The tradition further states that this monastery was destroyed by the Avars in 670, when the abbot and thirty monks were martyred. The abbey, dedicated to Saint Martin, was then supposedly rebuilt by Charles Martel and Saint Pirmin in about 711. The second and current view, based on more subst ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Disentis-Mustér, Switzerland

Ittingen Charterhouse

Ittingen Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery near Warth. It is now used as an education and seminar centre with two museums and a farm. The monastery was founded in 1150 for the Canons Regular. In 1461 the premises were sold to the Carthusians. In 1524, during the Reformation, the monastery was destroyed in the Ittingersturm, but was rebuilt during the Counter-Reformation. In 1798 the officials of the H ...
Founded: 1150 | Location: Warth, Switzerland

Königsfelden Monastery

Königsfelden Monastery is a former Franciscan double monastery, which housed both a community of Poor Clare nuns and one of Franciscan friars, living in separate wings. It was founded in 1308 by the Habsburgs. In the course of the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland in 1528 it was secularized, and the complex was then the residence of the bailiffs of Bern. On May 1, 1308, King Albert I of Austria was mu ...
Founded: 1308 | Location: Windisch, Switzerland

Frauenkloster

The Frauenkloster nunnery in Schwyz was established in 1275. The current buildings date from the 17th century, the church was built in 1639-1642.
Founded: 1275 | Location: Schwyz, Switzerland

Capuchin Monastery

A Capuchin monastery was established in Stans in 1583 by Melchior Lussy, who had been sent to the Council of Trent. Initially there was resistance to the poverty, simple habits and beards of this order of Counter-Reformation monks. In 1777 the monks opened a Latin school, which was suppressed from 1798 until 1803 under the Helvetic Republic. The Kollegium St. Fidelis was built by the monks in 1895 and purchased by the can ...
Founded: 1583 | Location: Stans, Switzerland

Weesen Abbey

Weesen Abbey, established in 1256, is the oldest Dominican monastery of nuns in Switzerland. The buildings and the library (about 8,400 works) respectively archives are listed in the Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance. In 1259 Count Rudolf IV von Rapperswil, Countess Elisabeth"s father, donated certain duties and lands for the construction of their monastery. Initially, the ...
Founded: 1256 | Location: Weesen, Switzerland

Fischingen Abbey

Fischingen Abbey was founded in 1138 by Ulrich II, Bishop of Constanz as a private episcopal monastery, with the intention that it should offer shelter and hospitality to pilgrims on their way from Constanz to Einsiedeln Abbey. The hermit Gebino was appointed the first abbot. In only six years he had had built a bell tower, accommodation for both monks and nuns, and a guesthouse. At its high point in about 1210, Fis ...
Founded: 1138 | Location: Fischingen, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.

The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.

The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.

The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.

Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.

Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.