Weesen Abbey, established in 1256, is the oldest Dominican monastery of nuns in Switzerland. The buildings and the library (about 8,400 works) respectively archives are listed in the Swiss inventory of cultural property of national and regional significance.
In 1259 Count Rudolf IV von Rapperswil, Countess Elisabeth's father, donated certain duties and lands for the construction of their monastery. Initially, the community was supported by Predigerkloster Zürich, because its close relationship to the House of Rapperswil. Heinrich III, Bishop of Konstanz, in 1272 issued the authorization to build a chapel, and called a Dominican priest for the fair, the sacraments and the pastoral care of the nunnery.
After the defeat of the House of Habsburg at Näfels on 9 April 1388, the city of Weesen was burned down. At the beginning of the 15th century, the town was rebuilt, again as a confederate of the Habsburg family, being then an open settlement at its present location at the Dominican convent. As one of the few monasteries in Switzerland, Weesen widely was spared from the repercussions of the 1520s Swiss Reformation, probably not least because the monastery still eked out a poor existence, so there was no reason for looting. Nevertheless, the iconoclasm lay lamed the monastic life briefly, and the sisters fled to a two-year exile. On their return, the nuns found their monastery desecrated and devastated.
Only in the second half of the 17th century, the convent completely recovered. But also some pastors of the town of Weesen repeatedly tried to undermine the preferential rights of the monastery. Thanks to the episcopal safeguards, the monastic life, however, remained untouched. The life of the monastic community ever has been ruled by simplicity and poverty, and its history is closely connected to the small town of Weesen. To date there is a good relationship between the people of Weesen and the nunnery.
Probably the original monastery church was built in the area of the present guest house in the southernly wing of the present building complex. Between 1688 and 1690 the nunnery was rebuilt and its church was richly decorated. The basic shape of the church was also given to the monastery as it exists today. Until recently, the community severed repeatedly, in particular, in the 18th century the monastery was three times heavily affected by the river's water, and the foundations even partially washed-away.
The church and monastery guest house are open to the public, but the other sections of the nunnery are part of the private area (Klausur) of the monastic community.
From 1688 to 1690 a new building was erected, which was no longer open, but designed as a closed, compact square, in contrast to the previous three-winged church. In the baroque new building some components of the original construction phase were integrated, as well as the church interior. With its onion dome, the church forms the west wing of the square-shaped building complex. In 1822 the new organ in the choir of the monastery church was completed for the amount of 323 Gulden. The organ was moved to the gallery in 1884, and in 1958 replaced by a new instrument. The oldest still visible components are the 200-year-old ceiling beams.
The library includes works of asceticism, mysticism and liturgy. The reference library is located in the enclosure area, and is therefore usually not open to the public, but intake by agreement with the librarian. The library occupies two rooms in the northeastern part of the monastery.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.