The Benedictine Convent of St John at Müstair, located in a valley of the Grisons in the extreme south-eastern part of Switzerland, south of the Alps, was founded around 775, probably on the orders of Charlemagne. At the beginning of the 9th century it was noted as being an establishment of religious Benedictines, and became a women’s abbey in the first half of the 12th century. Religious activities have continued uninterrupted until the present day, with the abbey becoming a priory in 1810. Today, the convent ensemble comprises the Carolingian conventual church and the Saint Cross Church, the residential tower of the Abbess von Planta, the ancient residence of the bishop, including two rectangular courtyards. To the west the courtyard is surrounded by cloisters, two entrance towers and agricultural buildings.

The property reflects both the history of its construction and the political and socio-economic relations in this region and throughout Europe over more than 1200 years, and thus provides a coherent example of Carolingian conventual architecture over time.

The conventual church houses the most important cycle of frescoes of the Carolingian era conserved in situ. The creation of these frescoes is dated  around the first half of the 9th century. The church, which is conserved for the most part in its Carolingian style, was initially destined as a space to be decorated with paintings: representations of the history of Christ decorate its entire perimeter, the apses and the inner walls. The scenes are laid out in a decorative way with elements connected by thematic and spatial correspondence and represent an outstanding example of Christian iconography.

By reason of its exceptionally well-preserved heritage of Carolingian art, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.

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Founded: c. 775 AD
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

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