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 miracle of the Blessed Virgin Mary; a stone chapel was first definitely mentioned in 1434. The Augustinian hermits of Basle had charge of the site.
In 1648 Mariastein Abbey was established here with the relocation of the remnants of the failing community at Beinwil, and the foundation of the Benedictine abbey to house them. The abbey was extremely successful both as a revived Benedictine community and as promoters and custodians of the pilgrimage site, which assumed at that period its present importance.
The abbey was secularised twice, in 1792, because of the French Revolution, and in 1874, as a result of a conflict between the state and the Roman Catholic Church known as Kulturkampf, after which the monks were obliged to seek refuge first in France, at Delle, and then, when in 1902 they were expelled as a result of legal changes in France, for a short time at Dürrnberg near Hallein in Austria, and finally in Bregenz, also in Austria. When the monastery at Bregenz was closed down by the Gestapo, the monks returned to Mariastein, where they were granted asylum in 1941. In 1971 the abbey was officially re-established.References:
The city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.