Charlemagne, Karl der Grosse, St. Johann. Müstair. Photo/Foto: TES.

A Carolingian Monastery

The Benedict Convent of St. John (Sankt Johann) in Müstair (Canton of Graubünden) was founded in the 8th century during the reign of Charlemagne and is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1983. The monastery is a complex of historical (Carolingian) buildings and frescos, a museum and a house of praying and working for more than 1200 years. The complex survived centuries of political and military turmoil and periods of negligence.

The church and its world-famous Carolingian fresco cycle are mostly intact. Legend has it that Charlemagne founded the monastery to show his gratitude for his conquest of Lombardy and coronation as king of the Lombards in 774. Müstair became a base and controlling post for the mountain passes between the Frankish territories in the south and conquered lands in the north, such as the duchy of Bavaria. Müstair, small as it is nowadays, became an important religious centre and a model of monastic life according to the rule of St. Benedict.

The town was also residence and administrative centre of the bishop of Chur. The monastery is open to the public nowadays and its museum presents the history and objects of great cultural value.  (Source and further information: J. Goll, Convent Museum Müstair, Müstair 2004).