The Benedictine monastery in Engelberg lies in a valley at the foot of the Titlis. Founded in 1120 by Count Konrad von Sellenbüren of Zurich, it was home to monks from Muri under the leadership of Abbot Adelhelm. Monastic life there was revitalised midway through the 12th century by monks from St. Blasien, a reformed monastery in the Black Forest. Abbot Frowin (1147-78) founded a scriptural school that blossomed under his tutelage and that of his successors Berchtold (1178-97) and Heinrich (1197-1223). No later than the time of Frowin, the monastery acquired a sister convent. The nuns left Engelberg for the convent of St. Andreas, Sarnen, in 1615. In 1604 Engelberg Monastery was absorbed into the Swiss Benedictine Congregation.
Since its founding, the monastery has played a central role in the life of the valley. It had supreme and absolute authority over a large territory in matters both temporal and spiritual until the time of the French Revolution. These rights were taken away in 1798, the year the people of the valley gained political independence. As the years went by the monastery was beset by inner conflicts, exterior threats, conflagrations and outbreaks of plague, despite which monastic life there managed to continue without a break through the centuries.
At the very centre of the village of Engelberg lies the Wappenhaus, a farmhouse erected in 1786/87 and now home to Engelberg Museum. The body responsible for the museum is the Stiftung Josef Amstutz-Langenstein, a foundation under the patronage of the municipality of Engelberg.
Inside the Wappenhaus are rooms of historical interest showing what life was like for the inhabitants of the valley towards the end of the 18th century. Little home shrines and devotional images show the extent to which Catholicism permeated the local culture. The simple kitchen utensils, foliage-filled bedding and hobnailed clogs, meanwhile, attest to the hardworking and humble lives that people led in those days.
Alongside its historical living quarters, Engelberg Museum also has a modern annexe in which it puts on temporary exhibitions. Its two or three exhibitions a year display works of a contemporary artistic nature and examine themes of historical, folkloristic and current interest – some incorporating photographs.
Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday 14h00 to 18h00.
Here in Switzerland's only monastery-based show dairy, visitors can see how cheese is made by hand. The dairy features four vats in which the milk is turned into Engelberg's famous Klosterglocke cheese all day long. The cheese is manufactured non-stop thanks to the dairy's unique production method.
Daily, up to ten times a day on a continuous basis between 09h30 and 16h00, admission free
The “Glasi” is Switzerland’s oldest glassworks and offers tours explaining its history.
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