Interlaken Monastery & Castle Church: A Journey Through Time

Interlaken switzerland from above

Located right in the heart of Interlaken, the former monastery now called the Castle Church is definitely worth visiting. Especially if you love history and architecture.

Sitting right behind the Höheweg and Höhematte Park is easy to get to, so why not take a peek if you are in the area?

Monastery & Castle Church Information

Here are the details for visiting the Schlosskirche / Interlaken Monastery and Castle Church.

AddressSchloss 7, 3800 Interlaken, Switzerland (Google Maps)
Church ServiceEvery Sunday 10 am
Ticket PricesFree Entry
WebsiteSchlossKirche.ch
Castle Church Details

History of the Monastery & Castle Church

The history of the Monastery & Castle Church (Schlosskirche in German), or Castle Church, is a long one, dating back to the 12th century. It was founded as an Augustinian monastery in 1133 by Otto Seliger von Oberhofen. Yes, he was also the owner of Oberhofen Castle on Lake Thun.

Interestingly, a women’s convent was added to the monastery in 1257. It become a heavily populated place for local single women and their families. There were schools in both buildings for boys and girls during the later 14th and 15th centuries.

The Interlaken monastery had a very strong presence in the region and it was given the power to acquire land very quickly. By the 14th century, it was the largest landowner in the Bernese Oberland. However, there were a lot of tensions around this time, especially relating to the convent, so it was closed by the Pope at the behest of Bern, in 1494.

The church was closed during the ever-present Reformation in 1528, as in many places throughout the country. Ownership of the Interlaken monastery and was handed over to the canton of Bern at this time, too.

In 1563, the building was a barrel and wagon barn, with the basement used as a wine cellar. It was not until 1841 that mass was again held in the church.

The Monastery & Castle Church Architecture

The Interlaken Castle Church from the front – image via WikiMedia

Although the church is not overly astounding from the outside, aside from the impressive steeple, the inside is where the true gems lie.

The Paul Zehnder Stained Glass Windows

Stained Glass window from Paul Zehnder – Image via SchlossKirche.ch

The church was renovated following the removal of the dividing wall in 1950. The renowned artist Paul Zehnder was asked to create three stained glass windows in the choir and six others in the church. He worked in his workshop in Isletwald nearby and the factory from Halter in Bern was asked to create them.

Circular Stained Glass window from Paul Zehnder – image via SchlossKirche.ch

The Bells & Steeple

Originally, four bells were hanging in the tower of the Castle Church. However, in 1538, the bells were given to other churches in the surrounding area.

The current four bell chime that can be heard from the church tower was provided on August 1st, 1926. They were dedicated to the fall of World War I, many of whom were from the local area. The bells are in the pitches of A, F, D flat, and E flat.

References:

Brochure from the Castle Church

Zehnder Windows Brochure from the Castle Church

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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