Monasteries in Switzerland

Gottstatt Monastery

Gottstatt Monastery was established in 1255 by Count Rudolf I von Neuchâtel-Nidau. A previous attempt to establish a monastery on the site in 1247 there had been unsuccessful. The monastery church was built in 1300 and was the burial church for the Counts of Neuchâtel-Nidau. After their line became extinct in 1375, the monastery was inherited by the Counts of Kyburg-Burgdorf until it was acquired by Bern in 1388. Docume ...
Founded: 1255 | Location: Orpund, Switzerland

Claro Abbey

Claro abbey was founded in 1490 on the initiative of Scolastica de Vincemalis, a Benedictine religious of Milan who on 13 May 1490 became the establishment's first abbess. The monastery grew rapidly, and by 1516 was home to 16 nuns. In 1559, the religious were charged by decree of Pope Paul IV to relaunch and supervise Seedorf Abbey in the Canton of Uri. Intended for the education of girls, the buildings were enlar ...
Founded: 1490 | Location: Claro, Switzerland

Churwalden Abbey

Churwalden Abbey is a former Premonstratensian abbey, abandoned after the Protestant Reformation and was formally dissolved in 1803/07. The abbey was founded under a provost around 1150 or 1164 by the Freiherr von Vaz. The abbey church of Saint Mary already stood on the site and was first mentioned in 1149 as S. Maria in silva Augeria. The vogt over the abbey lived in the nearby Strassberg Castle. Soon after its founding ...
Founded: c. 1150 | Location: Churwalden, Switzerland

Erlach Abbey

Erlach Abbey also known as St. Johannsen Abbey, was founded between 1093 and 1103 by Kuno, Count of Fenis and Bishop of Lausanne, on land that was then an island in the river Thielle. After Kuno's death, the abbey church was completed by his brother, Burchard, bishop of Basel. The new monastery was settled by monks from Saint Blaise Abbey. The Vogtei, initially the property of the Counts of Fenis, passed from them to ...
Founded: 1093-1103 | Location: Gals, Switzerland

Cazis Abbey

Cazis monastery was founded at the beginning of the 8th century by the Bishop Viktor II of Chur. In 1156 it was converted to the Augustian rule. In 1526, after the Reformation, the monastery was dissolved. In 1647 the monastery was rebuilt by Bishop Johann VI as a Dominican interior priory, but in 1768 destroyed by fire. In 1855 a girls" school and in 1955 a housekeeping school was founded.
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Cazis, Switzerland

Eschenbach Abbey

Eschenbach Abbey was founded as a nunnery in 1285 and was moved to the current site in 1309. In 1588 the nuns joined to the Cistercian Order. The guest house was built in 1612 and new monastery church in 1625. The new neo-Baroque monastery church was built and consecrated in 1910. The famous sundial, largest of its kind in Switzerland, was built in 1683.
Founded: 1309 | Location: Eschenbach, Switzerland

Wurmsbach Abbey

Wurmsbach Abbey is a monastery of Cistercian nuns located in Bollingen, a locality of Rapperswil-Jona. Count Rudolf of Rapperswil gave his castle of Wurmsbach together with a considerable area of land in 1259 for the foundation of a religious house and the abbey was established. It was initially a dependency of the Cistercian monks of Abbey of St. Urban in Wettingen. The abbey church was dedicated in 1281.  ...
Founded: 1281 | Location: Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland

Schänis Abbey

Schänis Abbey was founded in the 9th century. According to the report of a monk from Reichenau Abbey the founder was believed to be Count Hunfried of Chur-Rhaetia, who was said to have promised Charlemagne to make the foundation for the worthy safekeeping of a precious reliquary cross containing a fragments of the True Cross, as well as an onyx vessel containing some of the Blood of Christ. Such evidence as is ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Schänis, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Trinity Sergius Lavra

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a world famous spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church and a popular site of pilgrimage and tourism. It is the most important working Russian monastery and a residence of the Patriarch. This religious and military complex represents an epitome of the growth of Russian architecture and contains some of that architecture’s finest expressions. It exerted a profound influence on architecture in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe.

The Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, was founded in 1337 by the monk Sergius of Radonezh. Sergius achieved great prestige as the spiritual adviser of Dmitri Donskoi, Great Prince of Moscow, who received his blessing to the battle of Kulikov of 1380. The monastery started as a little wooden church on Makovets Hill, and then developed and grew stronger through the ages.

Over the centuries a unique ensemble of more than 50 buildings and constructions of different dates were established. The whole complex was erected according to the architectural concept of the main church, the Trinity Cathedral (1422), where the relics of St. Sergius may be seen.

In 1476 Pskovian masters built a brick belfry east of the cathedral dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. The church combines unique features of early Muscovite and Pskovian architecture. A remarkable feature of this church is a bell tower under its dome without internal interconnection between the belfry and the cathedral itself.

The Cathedral of the Assumption, echoing the Cathedral of the Assumption in the Moscow Kremlin, was erected between 1559 and 1585. The frescoes of the Assumption Cathedral were painted in 1684. At the north-western corner of the Cathedral, on the site of the western porch, in 1780 a vault containing burials of Tsar Boris Godunov and his family was built.

In the 16th century the monastery was surrounded by 6 meters high and 3,5 meters thick defensive walls, which proved their worth during the 16-month siege by  Polish-Lithuanian invaders during the Time of Trouble. They were later strengthened and expanded.

After the Upheaval of the 17th century a large-scale building programme was launched. At this time new buildings were erected in the north-western part of the monastery, including infirmaries topped with a tented church dedicated to Saints Zosima and Sawatiy of Solovki (1635-1637). Few such churches are still preserved, so this tented church with a unique tiled roof is an important contribution to the Lavra.

In the late 17th century a number of new buildings in Naryshkin (Moscow) Baroque style were added to the monastery.

Following a devastating fire in 1746, when most of the wooden buildings and structures were destroyed, a major reconstruction campaign was launched, during which the appearance of many of the buildings was changed to a more monumental style. At this time one of the tallest Russian belfries (88 meters high) was built.

In the late 18th century, when many church lands were secularized, the chaotic planning of the settlements and suburbs around the monastery was replaced by a regular layout of the streets and quarters. The town of Sergiev Posad was surrounded by traditional ramparts and walls. In the vicinity of the monastery a number of buildings belonging to it were erected: a stable yard, hotels, a hospice, a poorhouse, as well as guest and merchant houses. Major highways leading to the monastery were straightened and marked by establishing entry squares, the overall urban development being oriented towards the centrepiece - the Ensemble of the Trinity Sergius Lavra.

In 1993, the Trinity Lavra was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.