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 tolls, and mint coins, and thus effectively made the abbess the ruler of the city.

Emperor Frederick II granted the abbey Reichsunmittelbarkeit in 1218, thus making it territorially independent of all authority save that of the Emperor himself, and increasing the political power of the abbess. The abbess assigned the mayor, and she frequently delegated the minting of coins to citizens of the city. A famous abbess during this time of great power was Elisabeth of Wetzikon.

However, the political power of the convent slowly waned in the fourteenth century, beginning with the establishment of the Zunftordnung (guild laws) in 1336 by Rudolf Brun, who also became the first independent mayor, i.e. not assigned by the abbess.

The abbey was dissolved on 30 November 1524 in the course of the reformation of Huldrych Zwingli, supported by the last abbess, Katharina von Zimmern.

The monastery buildings were destroyed in 1898 to make room for the new Stadthaus. The church building today serves as the parish church for one of the city's 34 reformed parishes. Münsterhof, the town square in front of Fraumünster, is named after the former abbey. Gesellschaft zu Fraumünster cultivates the traditions of the former nunnery convent.

Fraumünster's Crypt museum

Since the last renovation in 1900, the crypt under the choir of the Fraumünster abbey was sealed, and has made public since 19 June 2016. The oldest part of the church preserved the abbey's Holy Relics until the Reformation in Zürich banned the Roman Catholic adoration of saints. The foundations of the crypt date back to the 9th century when the abbey was founded. The crypt also comprises an exhibition on the history of the Reformation in Zürich, on the architecture and local history, assisted by a multimedia information system that illustrates the foundation fragments of the crypt, and how the church was rebuilt from the original Romanesque construction phase to its present Gothic appearance, on occasion of its establishment guided by Dölf Wild, the archaeologist in charge.

Chagall windows

The choir of the abbey includes 5 large stained glass windows designed by artist Marc Chagall and installed in 1970. Each of the 5 has a dominant color and depicts a Christian story. 

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Details

Founded: 853 AD
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

cosmin caltea (17 months ago)
Very nice church. Is nice to hear the history and the story from the audio guide. Very beautiful glass paintings...
Chris Comparativo (17 months ago)
It's a beautiful church with windows designed by Chagall. Worth a visit if you're in Zurich.
Jacob Høgh (17 months ago)
This church has much more to offer that just the old master Chagall's stained glass art in the chapel and audio media-tours in several languages.
Joshua Kaminski (18 months ago)
Beautiful church with point to the heavens. Stands high enough to help you find your way. Also beautiful architecture.
abbie fairfax (20 months ago)
Gorgeous inside. Perfect area for photographs. I am a professional photographer and often am in the area taking photos for my clients. I take some amazing photos here because the light is just beautiful and the backgrounds are just gorgeous totally recommend and much better light than the bridges I always see the tourists taking photos on
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