Religious sites in Switzerland

Wasserkirche

The Wasserkirche ('Water Church') of Zürich was first mentioned around 1250. It seems likely that the original building was used for cult meetings. The meetings were centred on a stone now located in the crypt of the church. According to medieval tradition, the site was used for the execution of Saints Felix and Regula. The church was built in the 10th century and modified at various points, culminating i ...
Founded: 1486 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Grossmünster

The Grossmünster is a Romanesque-style Protestant church in Zurich. The core of the present building near the banks of the Limmat was constructed on the site of a Carolingian church, which was, according to legend, originally commissioned by Charlemagne. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220. The Grossmünster was a monastery church, vying for precedence wi ...
Founded: 1100-1220 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Fraumünster

The Fraumünster Church in Zurich is built on the remains of a former abbey for aristocratic women which was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard. He endowed the Benedictine convent with the lands of Zurich, Uri, and the Albis forest, and granted the convent immunity, placing it under his direct authority. In 1045, King Henry III granted the convent the right to hold markets, collect ...
Founded: 853 AD | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Calvin Auditory

The Calvin Auditory (Auditoire de Calvin), originally the Notre-Dame-la-Neuve Chapel, played a significant role in the Protestant Reformation. It is associated with John Calvin, Theodore Beza and John Knox. The auditorium lies directly adjacent to St. Pierre Cathedral in the Place de la Taconnerie. The austere Gothic-style building was constructed in the 15th century, on the site of earlier 5th-century religi ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

St. Peter's Cathedral

The St. Peter"s Cathedral in Geneva is known as the adopted home church of John Calvin, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. Inside the church is a wooden chair used by Calvin. St. Peter"s Cathedral was build between years 1160-1252, on the place where previously used to stand basilica from the 6th century. Cathedral was rebuilded several times, last reconstructions took place in 18th century. In ...
Founded: c. 1160 | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

St. Peter's Church

Located next to the Lindenhof hill, site of the former Roman castle, St. Peter"s church was built on the site of a temple to Jupiter. An early church is archaeologically attested for the 8th or 9th century. This building was replaced by an early Romanesque church around AD 1000, in turn replaced in 1230 by a late romanesque structure, parts of which survive. Rudolf Brun, first independent mayor of the town, was bu ...
Founded: c. 1230 | Location: Zürich, Switzerland

Jesuit Church

The Lucerne Jesuit Church is the first large baroque church built in Switzerland north of the Alps. The Jesuit order, founded by Ignatius of Loyola in 1534, were active participants in the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic fight against the birth of Protestantism. Protestant reformers such as Zwingli in Zurich and Calvin in Genevadivided the predominately Catholic Switzerland. In response, the Jesuits wer ...
Founded: 1667 | Location: Lucerne, Switzerland

Basel Minster

The Basel Minster is one of the main landmarks and tourist attractions of the Swiss city of Basel. It adds definition to the cityscape with its red sandstone architecture and coloured roof tiles, its two slim towers and the cross-shaped intersection of the main roof. Early structures The hill on which the Minster is located today was already a building site in the late Celtic Era in first century BC. A pre-R ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Lausanne Cathedral

Construction of the Lausanne Cathedral began in 1170. Twenty years later another master mason restarted construction until 1215. Finally a third engineer, Jean Cotereel, completed the majority of the existing cathedral including a porch, and two towers, one of which is the current day belfry. The other tower was never completed. The cathedral was consecrated and dedicated to Our Lady in 1275 by Pope Gregory X, Rudolph o ...
Founded: 1170-1275 | Location: Lausanne, 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

Solothurn Cathedral

The St. Ursus Cathedral in Solothurn is dedicated to Ursus of Solothurn, who was a 3rd-century Roman Christian venerated as a saint. His his body is located under the cathedral. The first church on the site was built in the Early Middle Ages. St. Ursus of Solothurn was venerated in the city by the 5th century. By 870 there was a college of canons and presumably a collegiate church in Solothurn. A Romanesq ...
Founded: 1772-1773 | Location: Solothurn, Switzerland

Elisabethenkirche

The Elisabethenkirche is a well detailed example of Swiss Gothic Revival style churches. It has a 72 metres tall bell tower and spire. The tower has internal stairs. The church was begun in 1857 and completed in 1864. The construction was sponsored by the wealthy Basel businessman Christoph Merian and his wife Margarethe Burckhardt-Merian. They were both laid to rest in black marble sarcophagi in the crypt below t ...
Founded: 1857-1864 | Location: Basel, Switzerland

Predigerkirche

Predigerkirche is one of the four main churches of the old town of Zürich. First built in 1231 as a Romanesque church of the then Dominican Predigerkloster, the Basilica was converted in the first half of the 14th century, the choir between 1308 and 1350 rebuilt, and an for that time unusual high bell tower was built, regarded as most high Gothic edifice in Zürich. The abbey-choir building had been used for secu ...
Founded: 1231 | Location: Zürich, 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

Sion Cathedral

The first building on the site of current Sion Cathedral was built in the 9th century and destroyed by fire in 1010. The next Romanesque cathedral existed until the 15th century. The existing bell tower dates from the 13th century. The nave was rebuilt in Gothic style between 1450 and 1500. The cathedral contains several Roman inscriptions, 15 altars, and many fonts.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Sion, Switzerland

Basilica of Our Lady of Geneva

The Basilica Notre-Dame of Geneva is the main Roman Catholic church in Geneva. The church was built according to the design of Alexandre Grigny between 1852 and 1857 on the site of a former stronghold fortifications. This neo-Gothic building, whose appearance is partly inspired by the Beauvais Cathedral, could break ground thanks to the city of Geneva, which had ceded land to religious communities to build places ...
Founded: 1852-1857 | Location: Geneva, Switzerland

Fribourg Cathedral

The Gothic Cathedral of St. Nicholas dominates the center of the medieval town of Fribourg. It is built on a rocky outcrop 50 metres above the river Sarine (Saane). The main body of the church was started in 1283 and completed by 1430. The tower was completed in 1490. It is 76 metres tall and houses 11 bells. It also features a rose window above the main portal with stained glass by Harrison Weltlich (1988). The st ...
Founded: 1283 | Location: Fribourg, Switzerland

Church of St. Leodegar

The Church of St. Leodegar was built in parts from 1633 to 1639 on the foundation of the Roman basilica which had burnt in 1633. This church was one of the few built north of the Alps during the Thirty Years War and one of the largest and art history rich churches of the German late renaissance period. In the 8th century there was already an abbey consecrated to Saint Maurice on the current site of the church, which ...
Founded: 1633- | Location: Lucerne, Switzerland

St. Lawrence Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Lawrence was founded in the High Middle Ages but rebuilt in the late 15th century, with the façade completed in 1517. It is the seat of the Diocese of Lugano, and dedicated to Saint Lawrence of Rome. The church is known on this site from 818. In 1078 it was made a collegiata, becoming a cathedral in 1888. The original Romanesque building was oriented the opposite way to the present church, ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Lugano, Switzerland

St. John's Church

Stadtpfarrkirche St. Johann church is located next to Rapperswil Castle. The castle and the parish church were built by Count Rudolf II and his son Rudolf III around 1220/29. The former parish church was located at Busskirch on upper Zürichsee lake shore, being one of the oldest churches around the lake area. Even the citizens of Rapperswil had to attend services in Busskirch until Count Rudolf II built his own pa ...
Founded: 1220-1229 | Location: Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.