As we all know, Switzerland is adored for its astonishing landscape filled with high mountains and green valleys. Tourists visit the country each year looking to explore and have unforgettable memories out in nature. However, there’s plenty to do between adventures, and whichever city you’re in will have some exciting places to visit. In this article, we’ll discuss some of these points of interest: churches in Switzerland.
14 Best Churches in Switzerland
Switzerland does not have an official religion; however, more than half the population believes in Christianity. There are churches all over the country, each more incredibly beautiful than the other, and we’ll be going over some of the most memorable ones.
Cathedral of Notre Dame
As far as Gothic buildings go, few are as beautiful as the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Lausanne. It was consecrated in 1275 and is one of the city’s main attractions.
Some detailed sculptures and portals make Notre Dame one of the most important heritage sites in the country. On the south side of the church, there’s a rose window with a diameter of 8.05 meters and, together with the Notre Dame in Paris, it’s one of the most brilliant rose windows in Europe.
St. Peter’s Church
The St. Peter church is the oldest in Zurich, with the foundation walls dating back to the 9th century still visible today. It has the largest church clock face in Europe, with a diameter of 8.7m. The tower has five bells, all from 1880, the largest of which weighs almost six tons. The baptismal font and the choir chairs with rich carvings from the 15th century add to the allure of the church.
The first mayor of Zurich, called Rudolf Brun, was buried near the church. Additionally, famous theologians such as Johann Caspar Lavater and Leo Jud completed a part of their life’s work here.
The sophisticated Jesuitenkirche was built in 1666 by architects from Italy and Austria. Many believe this Jesuit church to be the most beautiful Baroque church in the country.
It’s the first large Baroque church built in Switzerland, and it serves two purposes: a catholic secondary school and a church for general Jesuit pastors.
Because the acoustics of the impressive interior space is magnificent, the church today is not only used for liturgical services but also as a concert venue.
Einsiedeln Abbey is one of the most enormous baroque masterpieces and an important Roman Catholic pilgrimage site in Switzerland. It was founded by Saint Meinrad, a Benedictine monk, around 835. Located in the municipality of Einsiedeln, it’s one of Switzerland’s most impressive religious structures.
Einsiedeln Abbey has a semicircular, large courtyard upon which a fountain was built in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has been a Marian devotion site for more than a thousand years, with a Black Madonna located at the back of the church holding a child in her hand.
Madonna del Sasso
The Sacred Madonna del Sasso is a historical and religious landmark in southern Switzerland, specifically in Ticino. The church was consecrated in the 15th century after a vision of the Virgin Mary is said to have happened nearby.
It’s located on a cliff overlooking green pastures and deep valleys. You can reach this church back and forth with a funicular, and you’ll be treated to some wonderful views of Lake Orta and mountains in the background.
It’s open from 7:00 AM to 6:30 PM.
The fascinating Basel Minster is an example of history being told through architecture. It was built during the 11th and 15th centuries and used to be a Catholic church until it became a Reformed Protestant church.
The Basel Minster was built using red sandstone and followed Gothic and Romanesque styles of architecture. Today, you can go to the church on Sundays and climb the towers for a beautiful view of Basel and the Rhine.
St. Ursus Cathedral
The St. Ursus Cathedral is a Swiss neoclassical building constructed of lightweight limestone. It was built from 1762 to 1773 by architects Gaetano Matteo Pisoni and Paolo Antonio Pisoni. This cathedral is one of the most essential and famous Swiss treasures.
The church tower is 66 meters high with 24 steps and offers breathtaking views of the city, the old town, and mountains in the distance if the weather is clear enough.
Abbey of Saint Gall
The Cathedral of Saint Gall is a Catholic Church from the year 719. The abbey precinct and the magnificent Baroque Cathedral form a unique historical masterpiece. It’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, as part of the Abbey of St. Gall.
Located in St. Gallen, the church is decorated with astonishing mural paintings and a complete set of historic bells. Nearby is the Abbey Library containing a staggering 170,000 books.
Court Church of St. Leodegar
St. Leodegar was founded in the 8th century and was part of the monastery which founded the city of Lucerne. The building of the church took place from 1633 to 1639 in the German Renaissance style, with the previous Gothic one being destroyed by fire in 1633. Only the old church’s towers and a few other religious objects remain.
These days, the Court Church Of St. Leodegar is simultaneously a monastery and a parish church. The church’s architecture is quite mesmerizing, with a side entrance and an interior modestly decorated with beau fixtures and decorations.
The Fraumunster Church, or the Women’s Church, was founded in 853 by King Louis the German. This church, located in the old town of Zurich, was led by the female members of the aristocracy of Europe.
You can check out the largest organ in the Canton of Zurich with 5793 pipes. Its most stunning parts are the stained glass windows built by Augusto Giacometti and Marc Chagall. There are also frescoes that depict the legend of the church’s founding.
The Wasserkirche, or the “Water Church,” was initially built on an island where the city’s martyrs Felix and Regula were executed by the Romans.
This Gothic-style church was completed by the end of the 15th century, was regarded as particularly holy, and was referred to as a “temple of idol worshippers.” Until 1917, it was the public library of Zurich, and today it’s primarily used for cultural and religious purposes.
One attractive highlight of the church is the choir windows which depict the life of Jesus Christ and compare it with the life of the modern man.
St. Peter Cathedral
St. Pierre Cathedral is located on top of a small hill overlooking Geneva and is one of its most noteworthy landmarks. The famous Protestant Reformer John Calvin preached a lot in this church and pushed his Calvinist doctrines, such as predestination and God’s sovereignty.
It was founded in 1160, with an architecture that combined Gothic and Ancient styles. Although it was originally a Roman Catholic cathedral, it became a Reformed Protestant church after the 16th century.
You can visit the north and south towers throughout the year. It takes 157 steps to get to the top, and the fantastic views of the city of Geneva are totally worth it.
Of all of Zurich’s most iconic landmarks, the Romanesque-style Grossmunster church is one of the most prominent. It’s a beautiful church along the Limmat River and is located less than a kilometer away from Zurich’s central train station.
Grossmunster was built between 1100 and 1250, and its bell towers were added in the 15th century. During the reformation, the highly decorated interior was stripped down, and to this day, the inside of the church is a bit plain compared to the outside. However, there are three windows from 1933, wonderfully made by Augusto Giacometti, that showcase the Christmas Story.
Another highlight of Grossmunster is the Karlstrum, the right-hand tower of the church. After climbing the 187 steps, you’ll be treated to one of Zurich’s best attractions, with a great view of the city, lake, and river.
Saint German Church
The Church of Saint-Germain de Genève is one of the seven historic parishes in the city. The current Gothic-style building was constructed in the 15th century as a Protestant church. It replaced a 9th-century church that had undergone different restoration periods.
After the 1500s, the building was used for multiple purposes until it fully resumed religious service in the 18th century, temporarily replacing the Saint-Pierre cathedral.
In 1921, the Saint-Germain Church was declared a historical monument and a Swiss property of national cultural importance. It has hosted yearly outdoor summer concerts of classical music since 1973. In 2008, to mark 100 years since the 1908 restoration of the bell tower, two additional bells weighing 260 kg and 70 kg each were added.
The Bottom Line
Whether you visit these churches for the fascinating architecture or to practice your faith while in Switzerland, we’re confident you’ll have a great time. Churches worldwide, and especially in this country, tell the story of humanity’s unrelenting faith and the ability to overcome the biggest obstacles known to man.
Each church restoration marks a significant period for the surrounding areas and cities, not only in religious aspects but also in architecture and overall culture. Visiting these churches brings you closer to understanding people’s Christian beliefs, and it allows you to journey through our past simply by standing inside of a building and looking around.