Einsiedeln, French Notre-Dame-des-Ermites, town, Schwyz canton, northeast-central Switzerland. It is located on the right bank of Alp Stream, northeast of Schwyz city. It developed around the Benedictine abbey, founded in 934. The abbey became a principality of the Holy Roman Empire in 1274 and belonged to Schwyz after 1386. Its wooden statue, the “Black Virgin” (which owes its name to the discoloration caused by the candles burned before it through the centuries), became a sacred object of European pilgrims from the 14th century. Huldrych Zwingli, the religious reformer, was the parish priest there from 1516 to 1518, and the Renaissance physician Paracelsus was born near the town. In addition to being the largest and most famous Swiss pilgrimage resort, Einsiedeln is a winter sports centre and has printing, machinery, and furniture industries. The population is largely German speaking and Roman Catholic.
Einsiedeln is the most important place of pilgrimage dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Switzerland. The high valley of Einsiedeln located in the heart of Central Switzerland is characterised by moors and Lake Sihl, the biggest reservoir in Switzerland in terms of area. The winter sports region of Hoch Ybrig is just a few kilometres away.
Imposing centre of Einsiedeln and destination for countless pilgrims is the baroque monastery dating from the 18th century. The Benedictine monastery has a history of just over one thousand years. Since the Middle Ages Einsiedeln with its “Black Madonna” has been one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Europe. The Jakobsweg (St. James Path) also runs through the Einsiedeln area. The many pilgrims’ hostels of the past nowadays have become hotels for holidaymakers and pilgrims.
In summer the destination offers an extensive hiking trail network (400km), but also routes for bikers (250km, partly signposted) and inline skaters. A summer tobogganing trail, 18-hole golf course and agriculture trail are further examples of what’s on offer in the summer. And on poor-weather-days you can enjoy Einsiedeln’s cultural highlights including, for example, the Mineral Museum or Gingerbread Museum, as well as lots of other sights.
The area of Einsiedeln in the heart of early Switzerland offers a host of excursion possibilities, such as visits to the Zoo in Golday or the Children’s Zoo in Rapperswil, trips by mountain railway up the Rigi, a cruise on Lakes Lucerne, Zug or Zurich, or entering the Mouta Valley “Hölloch”, one of the biggest cave systems in the world.
The three smallish ski regions of Einsiedeln, Hoch Ybrig and Brunni-Mythen are located in idyllic open Alpine foothill countryside at altitudes between 1000 to 2000 metres above sea level and are suitable for skiers and snowboarders alike. And there is also a halfpipe and fun park. The Ybrig ski school is the oldest ski school in Switzerland. Families appreciate the short distances to the ski regions, especially from the Zurich area. The new Einsiedeln ski jump can be used for training and competitions in winter and summer. The big cross-country skiing track area and varied possibilities for ski tours complete the range of activities on offer.
- Benedictine Monastery Einsiedeln – most important place of pilgrimage dedicated to the Virgin Mary featuring the “Black Madonna”.
- Diorama Bethlehem – is regarded as the biggest nativity display with 450 hand-carved figures.
- Panorama Crucifixion of Christ – 100-metre-long giant circular painting from the 19th century.
- Hoch Ybrig – family-friendly ski region on the doorstep of Einsiedeln.
- Alpamare Päffikon – water slides and fun pools.
“Einsiedeln World Theatre” based on Don Pedro Calderón in Einsiedeln Klosterplatz (monastery square) (about every 5 to 10 years)
How to get there
Public Transport: 1 hour from Zürich. Change trains in Wädenswil.
- From Zürich: Autobahn A3 to exit Richterswil/Einsiedeln (No. 36). At the circle, turn right towards Samstagern, Schindellegi, Biberbrugg. Einsiedeln.
- From Chur: Autobahn A3 to exit Schindellegi/Einsiedeln (No. 38). Then in the direction of Schindellegi, Biberbrugg, Einsiedeln.
- From Schwyz: on Main Road No. 8 towards Sattel, Rothenthurm, Biberbrugg, Einsiedeln.