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 commercially. In this, they were very successful and Stein am Rhein rapidly became a flourishing and prosperous town which, in the 15th century, was itself (if briefly) granted reichsfrei status.

The abbey also prospered and, in the 15th century, completely rebuilt its premises, which remain a significant example of late Gothic architecture in the region. The last and greatest abbot, David von Winkelsheim, who came to power in 1499, completed the building works and added a spectacular suite of Renaissance frescoes that are among the earliest known in northern Europe.

Under the Reformation however, the abbey was secularised and its assets taken over by Zürich. Abbot von Winkelsheim negotiated a settlement with the Zürich authorities, whereby, although control of the abbey was handed over to them, he and the remaining monks would be allowed to remain on the premises until their deaths. Zürich however, suspected the abbot of collusion with the Habsburgs and locked him up in his new rooms. He was able to escape to Radolfzell, but died shortly after, in 1526.

The Gottfried Keller Foundation aims the acquisition of major works from Switzerland and abroad, to entrust them as loans to Swiss museums or to return them to their original locations. Among other, the foundation acquired the St. Georgen Abbey. The collection comprises more than 8,500 paintings, sculptures and other art objects in around 110 museums respectively locations in Switzerland.

Buildings

The buildings remained unharmed until the 19th century, when they were used by their owners for a number of industrial purposes, during which they suffered considerable damage. A Protestant pastor acquired them, and left them in trust for the community, thus saving them. Since 1945, they have accommodated a museum.

The banqueting hall, or Festsaal, containing the frescoes commissioned by David von Winkelsheim, and the cloisters are of especial interest in a building complex.

The abbey church, which dates predominantly from the 12th century, has also survived intact, and is now a Protestant parish church.

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Details

Founded: 1007
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

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User Reviews

YM S (15 months ago)
A very kind, friendly and well explaining in English receptionist is there to be ready to explain about what's the importance of the history of the Abbey, I got impressed by the Frescos, and remembering as one of the nicest places in Swiss ( mostly because of the warm hearted receptionist). Greetings from a Korean, really worth to visit if you wanna experience a tranquil yet gotta feeling moments!
Jumana Antoun (15 months ago)
The admission is 5 CHF. The monastery is empty. It just consists of empty rooms. Some rooms have some old wooden closets. One room was nicely painted. It was waste of time. The description of the rooms was not in English. If they are taking money, at least put an English panel. They don't even have an English brochure at the front desk.
Olga Dwornik (16 months ago)
It's definitely worth an hour - I was there already 3 times and will probably go again. While visiting castles I feel overwhelmed by all the ornaments, furniture (and - let's face it - crowds). Here you can experience the stillness of monastery, put attention to details, take a break. Don't miss the small lovely garden, full of aromas (at least in summer;))
MC CASAL (19 months ago)
Place to visit in Stein am Rhein. The entrance is only 5CHF.
Max B. Martins (2 years ago)
Unbelievable place! Stein am Rhein is a very small town, but you will be surprised with what you will find here. Lots of people gather to enjoy a fresh brewed coffee or the local bakery (patisserie). Enjoyable as can be a visit to this Monk place. This site offers a locations for beautiful pictures. Some of the chambers for the monks are floating over the river with spectacular views through the windows. The grade is located just on the river bank. This garden as well has a section for medicinal plants used by the friaries. Some rooms are highly decorated, and others are kind of subtle. After the tour, you feel you lived for a few minutes a life of a friar!
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