Monasteries in 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.