Einsiedeln Monastery has been cultivating a tradition of hospitality for over 1000 years. Switzerland's most important place of pilgrimage is a magnet for pilgrims on the Way of St. James, culture devotees and tourists alike.
The magnificent abbey, complete with Chapel of Our Lady and Black Madonna, is fascinating. The monks celebrate Vespers at 4.30 p.m., closing with the polyphonic antiphon, Salve Regina. Einsiedeln Monastery is currently home to some 50 monks. The Baroque complex in its present form was built from 1703 onwards after plans by Caspar Moosbrugger.
The Benedictine abbey is not only a place of spirituality, but also of learning. Accessible only on guided tours, the library contains manuscripts and books dating back to the founding of the monastery in 934. Its cultural treasures include an archive containing documents tracing monastic life back to the 10th century and the largest private music library in Switzerland.
You do not have to join a tour to view the abbey – or the monastery stables, Europe's oldest extant stud, where the "Cavalli della Madonna" (horses of the Madonna) are bred. The stables were built in 1764-67.
During your visit, sample the water springing from the Fountain of Our Lady in Klosterplatz: the waters of St. Meinrad have traditionally had healing properties ascribed to them.
The impressive Great Hall, built in the Baroque style, can be visited on an individual basis; it is used for concerts, lectures and conferences.
The Einsiedeln Monastery shop stocks a wide-ranging assortment of religious items and souvenirs.
The DiaVision is a slide show detailing the life and spirituality of Einsiedeln's monks.
Tours of the monastery are offered daily (except Sundays and public holidays) at 2 p.m. The Einsiedeln Tourist Office also organises tours of the abbey for groups, as well as of the library which is not open to the public.
Alternatively, visitors are invited to explore the monastery premises at their own pace. The Monks' Trail is an hour-long 'digital paper chase' suitable for visitors aged 14 and over with a smartphone: prior registration with the monastery is required.
On the other hand, to know why there are so many angels in the abbey, choose the Angel Tour: this focuses on the angels in the abbey and can be organised for groups. Guided tours for individual visitors are also offered during the Christmas market and on selected dates.
Einsiedeln's Way of the Cross begins in Klosterplatz at its southeasternmost point. Its 12 Stations of the Cross lead to the Meinradsberg and provide an opportunity for contemplation and reflection.
Daily 2 - 3.45 p.m. (excluding Sundays and public holidays)
Einsiedeln Tourist Office, Hauptstrasse 85
CHF 20 per person / children 6 – 16 CHF 10