Monasteries in Switzerland

Mariastein Abbey

Mariastein Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Metzerlen-Mariastein. After Einsiedeln, it is the second most important place of pilgrimage in Switzerland. Over the Chapel of Grace ('Gnadenkapelle') now stands a late Gothic three-aisled basilica. The interior is Baroque and the entrance facade classicist. Mariastein originated as a place of pilgrimage in the late 14th century, with the legend of a mi ...
Founded: 1648 | Location: Metzerlen-Mariastein, Switzerland

Engelberg Abbey

Engelberg Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Engelberg, Canton of Obwalden. Founded in 1120 by Count Blessed Conrad of Seldenburen, with the first abbot being Blessed Adelhelm, a monk of St. Blaise"s Abbey in the Black Forest, under whom the founder himself received the habit and ended his days there as a monk. Numerous and extensive rights and privileges were granted to the new monastery by various popes and empero ...
Founded: 1120 | Location: Engelberg, Switzerland

Abbey of Saint-Maurice d'Agaune

The Abbey of Saint Maurice d"Agaune dates from the 6th century. It is situated against a cliff in a section of the road between Geneva and the Simplon Pass. The abbey of St. Maurice is built on the ruins of a Roman shrine of the 1st century BC dedicated to the god Mercury in the Roman staging-post of Agaunum, and first came to prominence as a result of a now disputed account by Eucherius, the Bishop of Lyon. He had ...
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Saint-Maurice, Switzerland

Hauterive Abbey

The land for the Hauterive abbey was donated between 1132-1137 by Baron Guillaume de Glâne (died in 1143, his grave is in the church). After monks moved down from Cherlieu Abbey in northern Burgundy and inhabited the buildings, the Bishop of Lausanne granted permission to consecrate the abbey in 1137. It was then consecrated on 25 February 1138. With support from the local nobility and the Bishop of Lausanne, the a ...
Founded: 1138 | Location: Posieux, Switzerland

Kreuzlingen Abbey

Kreuzlingen Abbey was founded in about 1125 by Ulrich I of Dillingen, Bishop of Constance, as a house of Augustinian Canons. In 1144 Pope Lucius II, and in 1145 Emperor Frederick Barbarossa took the monastery under their protection. Kreuzlingen became an Imperial abbey. The abbots, now Imperial prelates, were territorial lords of the small lordship of Hirschlatt north of Friedrichshafen, and this was also their p ...
Founded: c. 1125 | Location: Kreuzlingen, Switzerland

Bellelay Abbey

According to the legend, Bellelay Abbey was founded in 1136 by Siginand, prior of the abbey of Moutier-Grandval, who got lost in the deep forest of the High Jura while hunting a wild boar and was unable to find his way out. He vowed to found a monastery if he managed to return safely to Moutier, which he did four days later. To the monastery he founded in accordance with his vow he gave the name of 'belle laie' ...
Founded: 1136-1142 | Location: Bellelay, Switzerland

Saint Urban's Abbey

St. Urban's Abbey was founded in 1194 on a land grant from the Freiherren of Langenstein and of Kapfenberg. The mother church was Lucelle Abbey. It was first mentioned in 1196 as sanctus Urbanus. The first monastery was a single monk's cell in Kleinroth, which is now in the municipality of Langenthal. In 1195, the first monks moved about 3 km down the valley to establish a larger monastery building. During the 13th centu ...
Founded: 1194 | Location: Pfaffnau, Switzerland

Muri Abbey

The monastery of Saint Martin of Tours at Muri was founded in 1027 by Radbot, Count of Habsburg, one of the progenitors of the House of Habsburg. Rha, a daughter of Frederick, Duke of Lower Lorraine, and Werner, Bishop of Strasburg, each donated a portion of land to a monastery which they established there. A colony of monks was drawn from the nearby Einsiedeln Abbey, under the leadership of Prior Reginbold. On h ...
Founded: 1027 | Location: Muri, Switzerland

Rüeggisberg Priory

Rüeggisberg Priory was founded between 1072 and 1076 by Lütold of Rümligen. He granted the property and estates to Cluny Abbey making it the first Cluniac house in the German-speaking world. Under Cuno of Siegburg and Ulrich of Zell the first cells were built. Construction of the Romanesque church lasted from about 1100 to about 1185, of which there still remain the north transept and parts of the crossing tower. The P ...
Founded: 1072-1076 | Location: Rüeggisberg, Switzerland

La Maigrauge Abbey

La Maigrauge Abbey is a monastery of Cistercian nuns located in Fribourg, Switzerland. In the mid-1250s, a small group of women came together in the region of Fribourg to follow a life of prayer under the guidance of the Rule of St. Benedict. They seem to have been neither Beguines nor aristocrats, as so many foundresses of women"s monasteries were. Their names have not even been preserved. They were giv ...
Founded: 1255 | Location: Fribourg, Switzerland

Bonmont Abbey

Bonmont Abbey is a former Cistercian monastery in Chéserex. The abbey was founded between 1110 and 1120. The oldest surviving document mentioning the abbey is a deed of gift from the lords of Divonne and Gingins in 1131. In 1131, the foundation stone of the abbey church was laid. Construction continued until the end of the 12th century. The church was built during the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture ...
Founded: 1110-1120 | Location: Chéserex, Switzerland

Kappel Abbey

Kappel Abbey is first mentioned in 1185. The abbey was founded by the Freiherr of Eschenbach. The name was derived from a chapel in which, according to a foundation legend, hermits used to live. Between the 13th to 15th Centuries the Abbey received several Imperial and Royal privileges. On the site of the original church (of which parts are preserved in the present structure), a new church was started in about 1255 ...
Founded: c. 1185 | Location: Kappel am Albis, Switzerland

Maria Rickenbach Monastery

Maria Rickenbach Monastery was initially established after a 1528 painting of the Blessed Mother was placed in a hollow maple tree on that site. Subsequently, unable to remove the painting, which came to be considered miraculous, the church and monastery were established around the tree, which is now enclosed by a shrine. In 1857, a small group of women who wanted to follow a monastic way of life acquired the monastery. ...
Founded: 1528 | Location: Niederrickenbach, Switzerland

Wettingen Abbey

Wettingen Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded in 1227 and dissolved during the secularisation of 1841, but re-founded at Mehrerau in Austria in 1854. Count Heinrich II of Rapperswil bought lands in Wettingen sometime after 1220, and gave it the name Wettingen, believed to be named after his wife"s family von Wetterau. He had married in 1220 to Mechtidis von Wetter, her brother was Count Lutold I von We ...
Founded: 1227 | Location: Wettingen, Switzerland

Fahr Monastery

Fahr monastery is first mentioned in AD 1130. The lands were donated by the House of Regensberg. From the very beginning, the nunnery has been ruled by the Abbot of Einsiedeln; the nuns are governed in their daily life by a prioress appointed by the abbot. The bailiwick rights were first held by the Regensberg family, after 1306 by the citizens of the municipality of Zürich, and from 1434 to 1798 by the Meyer von ...
Founded: c. 1130 | Location: Dietikon, Switzerland

St. John's Abbey

St. John"s Abbey in the Thurtal was a Benedictine monastery originally established in the mid-12th century. The oldest written record of it is dated October 4, 1152, when Pope Eugene III took the monastery into his protection. The pope confirmed the monastery"s possessions and free election of its abbot and Vogt. On October 24, 1178, Pope Alexander III confirmed the abbey"s extended possessions. In ...
Founded: 1152 | Location: Alt Sankt Johann, Switzerland

Mount Zion Abbey

Mount Zion Abbey (Berg Sion) is a Premonstratensian nuns" abbey built on scenic rocky spur above the Gaster valley in 1761 by the priest Joseph Helg. It was built along a pilgrimage route from the churches on Lake Constance to Einsiedeln Abbey. The Loretto Chapel was built in 1763-65. A year after the chapel was completed three sisters moved from Schussenried Abbey in Germany to the new Abbey. The Abbey&quo ...
Founded: 1761 | Location: Gommiswald, Switzerland

Frienisberg Abbey

In 1131 Count Udelhard of Saugern granted his land at Frienisberg to the Cistercian Lützel Abbey. In 1138, the Lützel Abbey sent settlers to Frienisberg to found a new abbey. The new abbey remained small and struggled until the first half of the 13th century, when a number of donations allowed it to expand. At its peak, about 300 farmers worked for a total of 1,800 hectares in 45 villages west of Bern. It also owned vin ...
Founded: 1138 | Location: Seedorf, Switzerland

Pfäfers Abbey

According to the chronicles of Hermann of Reichenau, Pfäfers Abbey was founded in 731. The founding legend refers to the itinerant bishop Saint Pirmin, with the first documentary mention of the abbey in 762. The monastery controlled the important route through the Kunkels Pass to the passes into Italy in the Graubünden. Early history In 840, Emperor Lothair I, king of Northern Italy and, nominally, Emperor of ...
Founded: 731 AD | Location: Bad Ragaz, Switzerland

Fraubrunnen Abbey

In 1246, Counts Hartmann the Elder and Hartmann the Younger of Kyburg donated their lands, farms and forests in and around the village of Mülinen, as well as judicial rights over the village itself, to establish a Cistercian nunnery, which was placed under the authority of the abbot of Frienisberg in 1249 or 1250. It was called in Latin Fons beatae Mariae, in German Fraubrunnen, which replaced the existing village&q ...
Founded: 1249 | Location: Fraubrunnen, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.

The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).

With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).

Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.

The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.

The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.