It is awesome to visit cities, but it is so lovely to "head for the hills" anywhere, and in particular when it is in Switzerland.

Last week I made my "second ever" visit to Einsiedeln, which is known not only as a tourist destination for all year round sports activities, and ski areas, but also because of its Monastery.

The Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey is considered one of the most important Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe.  Since the Middle Ages, the Graces Chapel and a statue of the Black Madonna have been the centre-piece of the pilgrimage [Wikipedia].

The site of the Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey is in a commanding position within the village, as befits the beauty and dedication required in its creation/rebuilding.

Christmas market with backdrop facade Abbey

As well as the facade and the Lady's Fountain, of particular interest is:
  • The Lady Chapel, rebuilt in 1816/17
  • The Black Madonna wearing one of her robes (her robe was white during my visit due to it being Christmas time)
  • view from central nave to the choir-room
  • the Christmas cupola
  • view from lower choir to the nave
  • upper choir of the abbey-church with altar of the cross

As part of the mass, it is so beautiful to listen to the chanting.  No accoustics of any sophisticated sound studio, could, to me, ever emulate what is created against the backdrop of this sanctuary.

As on the occasion of my first visit, I purchased some candles which were imprinted "Maria Einsiedeln", together with cards photographing the Abbey's magnificence.  Amongst such cards I have one of Pope John Paul II, praying in the area of Madonna of Einsiedeln.

We thereafter stepped out into the night, with the Abbey, and surrounds, lit up:

Afterwards, in the early evening, we explored the picturesque village, then headed (although we were day trippers only) towards Gasthaus Meinradsberg, where we sat in the cosy ambiance of the restaurant, enjoying coffee and gluwein. [ ]