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Fraumünster. Light and spirit.

On the south side of Zurich's Münsterhof square is the Fraumünster Kirche (Church of Our Lady), a three-aisled pillared basilica with a Gothic nave (13th-15th C.), an Early Gothic transept and a pointed spire.

It’s not known when the church was founded, but on July 21, 853, King Ludwig the German signed over to his daughter Hildegard a convent which already stood on the site. In 874, Hildegard’s sister Bertha consecrated what was probably a simple, towerless basilica, and built a crypt beneath to house the relics of Felix and Regula. During the eleventh century, the abbesses of the convent gained the title of imperial princesses and considerable rights in the town, and the present structure was built during the thirteenth century. The convent was suppressed under Zwingli’s Reformation, and in 1524 all the icons, ornaments and the organ were destroyed. During the following centuries, the minster became the place of worship for Veltliner and Huguenot refugees, was temporarily a Russian Orthodox church, and – between 1833 and 1844 – hosted both Catholic and Protestant services. There was much renovation around the turn of the century, and again in 1960, when the Romanesque choir was reopened as an integral part of the building. In 1967, Marc Chagall – then 80 – accepted the commission to make new stained glass for the five 10m-high choir windows. The stunning artistry of the windows he produced makes them one of the highlights of Zürich.

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Taken on May 24, 2008