Rheinau Abbey (Kloster Rheinau) was a Benedictine monastery in Rheinau founded about 778 and suppressed in 1862. It is located on an island in the Rhine.
The foundation of the abbey, on a strategically sheltered bend of the Rhine, is supposed to have taken place in about 778. The abbey is first documented however in the 11th century. In 1114 a Romanesque basilica was dedicated here and in 1120 the still extant archive begun. The early history of the abbey, like that of many others, consists of an alternation between generous endowments and privileges from the Holy Roman Emperors, and oppression and fraud from the Vögte (lords protector). In 1126 Count Rudolf of Lenzburg founded the adjoining settlement of Rheinau.
Against the increasingly aggressive territorial claims of the Counts of Sulz the abbey made a treaty in 1455 with the Old Swiss Confederacy, which was intended to protect it against further attacks by the noble families of the Klettgau. In 1529 the Reformation swept in from Zürich and overwhelmed the abbey, which was abandoned shortly afterwards. It was re-established however in 1532, and became a centre of the Counter-reformation.
In the 18th century under Abbot Gerold II Zurlauben, Rheinau Abbey, like St. Gallen, enjoyed a late resurgence. Gerold had the abbey church (re-dedicated 1710) and the monastic complex (in construction up to 1744) magnificently re-built in the Baroque style, much as they appear today.
During the turmoil of the French Revolution and the French invasion of Switzerland in 1798, the abbey was temporarily suspended, but restored in 1803. The abbey's territory with the little town of Rheinau were added to the newly restored Canton of Zürich, which placed it under cantonal supervision in 1834 and from 1836 prevented it from accepting new novices. In 1862 the cantonal council decreed the dissolution of the abbey.
From 1603 until its dissolution the abbey was a member of the Swiss Congregation, now part of the Benedictine Confederation.
In 1867 in the abbey buildings a cantonal hospital and nursing home were set up. The later cantonal psychiatric clinic that developed here was closed in 2000. In the years 2003-2005 parts of the outbuildings were renovated. Today guided tours are available.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.