Engelberg, Switzerland (half-Canton Obwalden)      

Beautiful Scene: Bernese Oberland -- looking North-north West (down the Valley from above the town)

The town is tucked away in a Valley about 20 mile south of Zürich. Kloster Engelberg (Abbey) sits on the far side of town. It has been under the Benedictine rules since 1120 (Benediktiner Klosterregel). The Benedictine monastic community can perhaps be compared with the group of companions (Jesus' disciples), who have gathered after his death and resurrection in expectation of what will be Pentecost. In the vows of of the order -- stabilitas (resistance), the conversation morum (monastic way of life) and of oboedientia (obedience) remain a brother's temporal tools to live aligned with the Gospel.

The parish in Engelberg Valley is under the control of the Benedictines. In previous centuries other parishes in Nidwalden (Stans, Buochs), Schwyz (Küssnacht), Aargau (Sins) and also in the canton of Zürich (Urdorf) fell to the jurisdiction of Engelberg's monastery. While there has been a school associated with the order for centuries, it was not until 1851 that it was expanded to include a much larger number, both in its boarding school and the college.

The first settlements in the half-Canton of Obwalden date to the pre-Roman era of celtic tribes. It sits in the historic as well as geographic center of Independent Switzerland. Large lakes in the canton include: parts of Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee), Lake Sarnen (Sarnersee), Lungerersee, Wichelsee, Tannensee and Melchsee. Several small lakes are in the town. During Napoleon's occupation between 1798 and 1803, Obwalden lost its independence. The French pillaged the monastery library, which was said to have contained over twenty thousand volumes and two hundred choice manuscripts. The library today still contains to this day a complete set of the writings of Martin Luther, even though it remains a strong Catholic institution. In 1815 the politically independent monastery of Engelberg and the municipality of the same name joined Obwalden.

Winter sports and hiking are important economic considerations. Engelberg is the leading mountain resort (Urner Alps) in central Switzerland and was once a well-known mineral water spa and resort town apart from its winter attractions. The 12-kilometre-long descent from the Titlis, high above the town, to Engelberg is the longest and overcomes a difference in altitude of 2000 metres. An American poet, William Wordsworth, wrote a poem about the abbey entitled Engelberg, The Hill of Angels. Engelberg does indeed mean “Angel Mountain” -- its modern slogan is Welcome to Heaven. Pictures of this paradise can be found at: http://www.pictures-switzerland.com/engelberg/. Obwalden became the first Swiss canton to adopt a flat income tax rate (2007), with more than 90 per cent of the electorate voting in favor of the change from progressive tax tyranny.

Close by Zürich and Engelberg are two important sites, perhaps that you should see. Lucerne (Luzern) is well worth the time to see its classic sites, starting with the amazingly ornate Jesuitenkirche. This is baroque-style masterpiece, was dedicated to Francis Xavier. It was built in 1666. Some claim it to be the most beautiful Baroque structure in Switzerland. Don't miss the covered Kapellbrucke and Spruerbrucke Bridges or the Lion of Lucerne. Bertel Thorvaldsen's Lion commemorates the Swiss Guards who died while defending Marie Antoinette in the French Revolution (HELVETIORUM FIDEI AC VIRTUTI -- 760 died). It is just a short drive to an important place for the Swiss Reformation, Ulrich Zwingliís death memorial at Kappel. Pictures HERE

Abbey Church Alter

Celtic/Frank History -- Germaniæ Historiæ -- Anglo Saxons et.al. -- Christian Heritage of Switzerland

French, Belgium Cities -- German, Swiss Cities -- Current Newsletter


New: November 12, 2011