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:
Easter Aquhorthies stone circle, located near Inverurie, is one of the best-preserved examples of a recumbent stone circle, and one of the few that still have their full complement of stones. It consists of a ring of nine stones, eight of which are grey granite and one red jasper. Two more grey granite stones flank a recumbent of red granite flecked with crystals and lines of quartz. The circle is particularly notable for its builders' use of polychromy in the stones, with the reddish ones situated on the SSW side and the grey ones opposite.
The placename Aquhorthies derives from a Scottish Gaelic word meaning 'field of prayer', and may indicate a 'long continuity of sanctity' between the Stone or Bronze Age circle builders and their much later Gaelic successors millennia later. The circle's surroundings were landscaped in the late 19th century, and it sits within a small fenced and walled enclosure. A stone dyke, known as a roundel, was built around the circle some time between 1847 and 1866–7.