The priory Romainmôtier was built on the site of the oldest Romanesque building in Switzerland, a monastery from the 5th century. The current building was built from 990 to 1028 as a Cluniac abbey. From the sixteenth century and until the spread of Protestantism, the priory lost considerable importance and was partially abandoned. Restored in the 20th century, the priory is now a Protestant church.
While Switzerland is known for its natural heritage, wonderful religious heritage sites have also been built in the middle of its mountains.
St. Gallen Abbey, founded in 613, is the oldest monastery in Switzerland. Very little remains of the medieval abbey. Most of the buildings, including the abbey church, were built between 1755 and 1768 in the Baroque style. Its rococo library is one of the most important monastic libraries in the world, housing one of the most comprehensive collections of early medieval manuscripts in German-speaking Europe.
The Great St Bernard Hospice, situated at an altitude of 2,473 metres, was supposedly first built around 1050, when Saint Bernard of Aosta founded the hospice which would later bear his name. In 1823, the hospice was rebuilt under the direction of the architect Henri Perregaux. It was at this hospice that the dog breed St. Bernard was created.
The Grossmünster, built between 1100 and 1220, is a protestant reformed church in Zurich's old town. The first part of the Grossmünster is believed to have been built by Charlemagne, who discovered the tombs of Saints Felix and Regula, two martyrs of Christianity, around the 7th century. The Protestant Reformation in Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli began in the Grossmünster, where he preached from 1519 onwards as a priest. The twin towers of the church, with their neo-Gothic domes, are the symbol of the town.
The Geneva Cathedral, or Saint-Pierre Cathedral, was founded in 1160 in the Romanesque style, on a former 4th-century cathedral. In 1535, with the Reformation, the statues and furniture of the cathedral were destroyed. The cathedral then became Protestant. Subsequently, John Calvin (1509-1564) worked for 23 years as a preacher in the reformed cathedral. The cathedral was built in the Gothic style at the end of the 17th century and was enlarged in the 18th century with a columned portico in the classical style in front of the main façade.
Friburg Cathedral, in radiant Gothic style, was built between 1283 and 1490 and was founded as a parish church dedicated to St. Nicholas. It became a collegiate church at the beginning of the 16th century and did not become a cathedral until 1924. The tower of the church, an emblematic monument of the city, was built from 1370 to 1490.
The Abbey of Saint-Maurice d'Agaune was founded in 515 by the future King of Burgundy, Saint Sigismund on the site of an ancient sanctuary housing the relics of Maurice d'Agaune. The abbey is one of the most important monasteries created north of the Alps during the High Middle Ages. In 1560, the abbey was destroyed by a great fire which was followed, fifty years later, by a huge landslide that occurred after an earthquake. The abbey church was rebuilt with a new orientation in the 17th century and restored by the architect Claude Jaccottet after a collapse in 1942.
The Synagogue of Basel first opened in 1868 and was constructed by the architect Hermann Gauss. It is modelled after the synagogue in Stuttgart with neo-Byzantine, Moorish, and Romanesque stylings. In renovations, the synagogue has been enlarged, a second dome has been added, and the walls have been painted grey before being recently restored with colour.
Also known simply as the Bern Cathedral, Bern Minster is the tallest Cathedral in Switzerland. The church was built in the 15th century, however its tower was only completed in 1893. The original church of Bern was a Romanesque style church built in the 12th century, the current church was built in the 15th century as a way to show Bern's significance as a wealthy city-state north of the alps. This houses one of the most complete late gothic sculpture collections in Europe.
The sanctuary of the Madonna del Sasso was first known at the end of the 15th century, and we know that the first church was consecrated there in 1502. At the end of the 16th century the construction of a second church, located on top of the cliff, was started and consecrated in 1616. Major works were undertaken between 1891 and 1912, the whole complex at the top of the sacred mountain was heavily remodelled.
The Valère Basilica, whose first church was erected in the 12th century, is a major architectural work that harmoniously combines the Romanesque and Gothic styles. Since 1987, the entire Valère site has undergone numerous restorations. The organ of the basilica, probably built between 1435 and 1437, is the oldest playable organ in the world.