San Carlo, Negrentino. Bild/Photo: Adrian Michael

Chapels in Switzerland

From the arrival of the first bishop in present-day Switzerland, in 381 in Martigny, followed by Geneva around 400, Chur around 450 and in Avenches/Lausanne in the sixth century, the first churches appeared. These were simple wooden buildings. In the following centuries, the number increases rapidly. The first abbey in 516 in Martigny, the Carolingian churches in Graubünden and the Romanesque churches in Tessin from the 8th to the 10th century are part of the heritage of thousands of religious buildings, chapels, abbeys, parish churches, cathedrals and other types. Modern churches such as the Chapelle de Mogno (1999) or Das Haus der Religionen (2014) in Bern fit into the list of the chapel of San Carlo in Negrentino in the canton of Ticino (around 1050).

A large number of these religious buildings is a chapel. A chapel has a secondary status as a religious building. It does not prevent them from being richly decorated and large, for example, the Sistine Chapel in Rome or Saint Chapelle in Paris. In general, however, they are simple buildings, often located in rural (mountain) areas. Because Switzerland has many inaccessible areas, there are many chapels, for example in valleys, pilgrim routes, mountain passes and alpine meadows.

Moreover, there are many chapels in castles and palaces or on historical sites, such as at Sempach (battle of 1386), at Morgarten (battle of 1315) or for hermits. The chapel was originally Catholic, and the Baroque era also made its appearance in the seventeenth century with richly decorated chapels. Some chapels reformed into the Protestant faith. There is something for everyone, and Switzerland has a rich heritage of chapel and other religious buildings (Source: Claude Quartier, A la découverte des chapelles de Suisse, Lausanne 2015).