Kloster Wettingen. Foto/Photo: TES

The Wettingen Monastery and Museum

The Monastery of Wettingen (Canton of Aargau) dates back to the 13th century. The Cistercian monastery was founded in 1227 by Count Heinrich II of Rapperswil. The convent on the half-island had estates, gardens and vineyards. 

A fire destroyed the monastery in 1507. The greatest danger, however, was the Reformation in 1529. Most monks converted to the new faith and left the monastery. 

The new abbot Peter Schmid (1559-1633), appointed in 1594, succeeded in restoring the monastery to its former glory. He renovated old buildings and constructed many new ones. Until the French invasion of the Swiss Confederation in 1798, the monastery again enjoyed a period of prosperity in the predominantly Protestant Aargau. 

The area of today’s Canton of Aargau (founded in 1803 by Napoleon’s Mediation Act) was governed from 1415 to 1798 by the Catholic and Protestant members of the Swiss Confederation or Eidgenossenschaft. This cooperation and the possibility of choosing one’s religion was already unique in Europe until 1798. 

The monastery was in the middle of the war zone in 1799 and was forced to host officers and soldiers of the French, Austrian and Russian armies. 

After the foundation of the new Confederation in 1815 (by the Bundesbrief), the mood towards the (rich) monasteries worsened in the canton. The parliament (Grosse Rat) of Aarau decided in 1841 to dissolve the monasteries. The Cistercian monchs of Wettingen found a new home in Mehrerau near Bregenz in Austria. 

The monastery buildings were used for a teachers’ seminary. In 1976, the cantonal school was founded. From 1 April 2022, the Aargau Museum will open rooms for temporary exhibitions in the monastery complex.  

(Source and further information: www.museumaargau.ch/klosterhalbinsel-wettingen).