Vindonissa Museum

Quiz Tour

Price Included in admission 0 Price Museum entrance fee No reservation necessary Good to know Independent tour for children from 7 years on Duration: about 30 to 60 minutes Trough the museum with the

Vindonissa Museum

AKTUELL display

Admission: Museum entrance fee Highlights from the Cantonal Archaeology Department The AKTUELL display presents special treasures from the former legionary camp at Vindonissa. A new display is install

Wettingen Abbey

Convent garden

Admission: Entrance free 120 English park, kitchen garden and plane tree avenue Discover secluded spots in the convent garden of Wettingen Abbey and stroll through the historic kitchen garden. A walk

Wildegg Castle

Living history museum and ancestral portrait gallery

Admission: Museum entrance fee Former castle residents are waiting to chat with visitors! Wildegg Castle is the castle of talking portraits: in the ancestral portrait gallery and the living history mu

Wildegg Castle

Hunting and game

Admission: Museum entrance fee Stroke a wild boar! Stroke a wild boar and find out how the lords of Wildegg hunted with birds of prey and dogs around 1800. In the Jagd & Wild (Hunting & Game) exhibiti

Hallwyl Castle

Permanent exhibition with mill island

Admission: Museum entrance fee Permanent exhibition on the family and construction history Sowing and reaping, rulers and servants, hopes and prayers: discover the medieval world of the lords of Hallw

Lenzburg Castle

Domestic life museum and prison

Admission: Museum entrance fee The museum of domestic life and prison reveal the lives of lords, rogues and scoundrels. The museum of domestic life and prison of Lenzburg Castle reveal the lives of lo

Lenzburg Castle

Knighthood and Nobility

Admission: Museum entrance fee The "Knighthood and Nobility" exhibition focuses on the Middle Ages. Medieval fans will find plenty to interest them in the "Knighthood and Nobility" exhibition: discove

Lenzburg Castle

History workshop exhibition

Admission: Museum entrance fee Prepare for a military campaign in the history workshop. Prepare for a military campaign in the history workshop, learn the fighting techniques of a knight or play games

Lenzburg Castle

Fauchi and the dragon research station

Admission: Museum entrance fee Visit Fauchi, the castle dragon! What would Lenzburg Castle be without Fauchi! The castle dragon is loved by all young visitors. At the dragon research station you can f

Historische Luftaufnahme Klosterhalbinsel Wettingen um 1964.

History of Wettingen Abbey

From foundation to museum

The history of Wettingen Abbey begins back in the 13th century. Founded in 1227, the abbey is now a museum and part of the Wettingen Cantonal School. A history in brief.

Foundation and construction of Wettingen Abbey

The Cistercian Abbey of Wettingen was endowed in 1227 by Heinrich II of Rapperswil. Little is known about its foundation. Legend has it that, in distress at sea he called upon the Virgin Mary for help and promised her an abbey if he was rescued. The storm subsided. A bright star, the Maris Stella, appeared in the sky, which Heinrich interpreted as a sign from Virgin Mary.

Back home, it took him some time to find the place for "his" abbey at the bend of the Limmat river. After the land was purchased from the lords of Dillingen and the Cistercian General Chapter and the Bishop of Constance had given their approval, the abbey was founded.

As usual, a mother abbey was sought, which sent some monks to the new abbey. Thus the first twelve monks came to Wettingen from the abbey of Salem near Überlingen. They began building the abbey complex.

Life in the abbey

The Cistercian Order emerged from the Benedictine Order in 1098. Some monks were dissatisfied with the development of the Benedictine Order. The Benedictine rules and the guiding principle of "ora et labora" had given way to wealth. First at Molesme, then at Cîteaux, many returned to the origins of monastic life. At the beginning of the 12th century, with the arrival of Bernard of Clairvaux, the Cistercians began to flourish.

In addition to the monks, who devoted themselves primarily to prayer and contemplation, the institution of the converses, also called lay brothers, emerged. Thesey were responsible for the hard physical work in the fields, in the gardens and in the abbey.

The Wettingen monastic community was also divided into these two groups. Often the monks were also ordained priests and responsible for the religious services in the surrounding villages.

Agriculture was an important element of abbey life. Wettingen Abbey had a vegetable garden and a herb garden as well as vines. The abbot had a small private garden built around his house. The quiet cloister garden was a good place to meet for contemplation. Today these gardens have been partially reconstructed and can be visited.

Difficult times in the 16th century

After the abbey was almost completely destroyed by a devastating fire in 1507, monastic life was soon in danger again in 1529 due to the Reformation. Most of the monks converted to the new faith and married. However, until they could be financially independent, they continued to live in the abbey. A monastic life in silence and faith was no longer possible. No sooner did the Catholic monks have "their" abbey back than they were hit by another wave of plague.

The abbey flourishes under Abbot Peter Schmid

Peter Schmid was elected abbot of Wettingen Abbey in 1594. He assumed office determined to help the abbey flourish again. Many new buildings were erected. But he also laid down new rules to bring abbey life back into the community. Good education for the monks was very important to him. After 1651, the two Roman catacomb saints Getulius and Marianus provided the income. This purchase brought pilgrims to Wettingen and with them donations in the form of money.

Revolution and dissolution of the abbey

The outbreak of revolution in France in 1789 ushered in a new era for everyone in Europe. "Egalité, Fraternité, Liberté" was the slogan. Everyone was to have the same rights and duties. The class order of the Middle Ages collapsed. Wettingen Abbey found itself in the middle of the war zone and had to accommodate numerous officers of all warring parties (French, Austrians, Russians).

However, much more drastic was the scepticism of the revolutionaries towards religion. In the 19th century, this scepticism was also widely shared in the young canton of Aargau. The existence of the large and rich abbeys was an affront to many. In 1841, the Grand Council in Aarau resolved to dissolve Aargau's abbeys. Wettingen's monks had 48 hours to leave their home. It took 13 years for the Wettingen Cistercians to find a new home in Mehrerau near Bregenz in Austria. They still live there today.

The abbey in modern times

The abbey buildings were subsequently used as a teacher training college. The greatest advocate of the abbey’s dissolution, Augustin Keller, became rector of the school. He moved into the abbot's apartment and ran the teacher training college with the same rigour as abbey life had been run in the past.

In 1976, Wettingen Cantonal School was founded, and has been housed in the former abbey premises ever since. More than 1,100 students attend either the secondary school or specialised school here.

Industrial culture

The canton sold large areas and buildings on the peninsula to businessmen. Johann Wild founded a very successful cotton spinning mill on the Limmat, whose striking building is now used as a cultural and commercial centre. Former workers' houses are still inhabited today.

Cultural heritage

In addition to the richly decorated church, the cloister with its stained glass of figures and coats of arms is a striking feature. These stained-glass windows were created by outstanding craftsmen in Europe. They mostly came to Wettingen Abbey as a donation.

Museum Aargau

As of 1 April 2022, Museum Aargau will operate a museum in the exterior and in selected interior rooms. The museum's "School makes museum" project breaks new ground. There is no permanent exhibition to see, but an evolving display with interactive personal mediation of the topics of faith, power and knowledge. Pupils make museum concepts, realise them and carry them out.

Further reading

  • Meng, Heinrich: 750 Jahre Kloster Wettingen 1227-1977: Festschrift zum Klosterjubiläum, 1977.
  • Hoegger, Peter: Das ehemalige Zisterzienserkloster Wettingen, Kanton Aargau, GSK Band 604/605, Bern 1997.
  • Hoegger, Peter: Glasmalereien im Kanton Aargau, Kloster Wettingen, 2002.
  • Kottmann A., Hämmerle M.: Die Zisterzienserabtei Wettingen, 1996.