In 1131 Count Udelhard of Saugern granted his land at Frienisberg to the Cistercian Lützel Abbey. In 1138, the Lützel Abbey sent settlers to Frienisberg to found a new abbey. The new abbey remained small and struggled until the first half of the 13th century, when a number of donations allowed it to expand. At its peak, about 300 farmers worked for a total of 1,800 hectares in 45 villages west of Bern. It also owned vineyards on the shores of Lake Biel and had 282 men working on the vines. Finally it controlled the patronage and the right to appoint parish priests in Rapperswil, Seedorf, Nieder-Lyss, Bargen, Schüpfen and Grossaffoltern.
Initially, the majority of the Abbey's income came from rents or produce from its farms and estates. Starting in the middle of the 13th century the economy of the monastery began to slowly change. It moved away from land rents and now began to survive on tithes and offerings. In the second half of the 13th century, the abbey founded the nunneries of Fraubrunnen, Steinen and Tedlingen.
In 1386, the Abbey tied itself closely to Bern, when it accepted Bernese citizenship for its monks and farmers. This close connection with Bern led to the Abbey's downfall. When Bern embraced the Protestant Reformation, many Bernese monasteries, including Frienisberg, were secularized. The last abbot, Urs Hirsinger, fled to Hauterive in the Canton of Fribourg rather than remain in Bern. In 1534, the abbey church was demolished. The former convent building was converted into a hospital in 1533 and it housed the local Bernese bailiff until 1798. In 1834 it was converted into a home for the deaf-mute. In 1889 it was converted into a nursing home, a role that it still fills today.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.