Local History

Basel, Predigerkirche. Photo/Foto: TES.

The ten Monasteries of Basel

Ten monasteries in Basel ceased to exist in the years of the Reformation (1525-1529). The authorities took over the management and the bishop moved its seat to Porrentruy. More than 450 years of history of monastic life had come to an end.

The first monastery was St. Alban, founded in 1083.

The second monastery was St. Leonhard, which was consecrated around 1133.

The number of monasteries increased in the thirteenth century, due to the emergence of new Orders and the active support of the bishop. Dominicans, also called Preachers, (Prediger in German) because preaching was their most important activity, Franciscans and Augustinian-eremites settled down in the city.

The last monastery (from the Carthusian Order) was established in 1401. The Orders created three monasteries for men and four monasteries for women.

The complex of the Carthusians is rather well preserved nowadays, other monasteries are entirely lost, including the Steinen Monastery (on the site of the Tingueley springs), the Gnadental, and Augustinian monasteries, only walls remain standing.

There are still seven monastery-churches, however. St. Leonhard and St. Alban have the most authentic parts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Klingental Monastery is surrounded by the old nunnery and is a museum nowadays.

The Preacher Church (Predigerkirche) has been thoroughly renovated, but with respect for the medieval original building and shows a reconstruction on paper of the famous Dance of Death, which was destroyed in 1805.

The Barfüsser church is home to the history museum of Basel. St. Clara is still a monastery church. (Source: F. Ackermann, Th. Wollmann, Klöster in Basel, Basel 2009).