- The church in Damüls, for instance, is a cultural and historical gem. This mountain church houses particularly impressive wall frescoes from the 15th century that depict an Armenian bible.
- The original Gothic church of Au was enlarged and refashioned in Baroque style at the end of the 18th century. It was designed and constructed by a student of the famed Baroque Master Builders School, whose members erected some of the most famous churches and monasteries in the Lake Constance area.
- Impressive images of the Apostles are displayed in the Church in Schwarzenberg. They were pained in 1757 by Angelika Kauffmann, then aged 16 and recognised during her own time as a star, who is today hailed as one of the great painters of the Baroque era.
- Surprisingly, the interior of the church in Hittisau features a fresco with the countenance of Sir Winston Churchill. In 1941, Painter Waldemar Kolmsberger featured the former Prime Minister of Great Britain in his ceiling painting “Zug der Verdammten (The March of the Damned).”
- During the 19th century, Alois Negrelli, who planned the Suez canal, worked on the expansion and design of the church in Sulzberg. It is one of the few churches in Vorarlberg built in Empire style.
- The clever renovation works at the Lingenau parish church were awarded the 2012 Pilgram prize. One particularly noteworthy design element is the 280-year-old olive tree in the church nave. A small waterfall, which flows forth from the tree’s roots, symbolises the city of Jordan. The altar is constructed of 12 stone blocks, which all originate from the region.
- The Alpe Niedere chapel is a very modern construction located above the village of Andelsbuch. The simple timber building was planed by famous Vorarlberg architects Cukrowicz Nachbauer. In 2009 the chapel received the Bauherrenpreis (developer’s award) from the ZV (Zentralvereinigung der Architekten), an Austrian association of architects.
- The Salgenreute chapel in Krumbach was opened in 2016. Vorarlberg Architect Bernado Bader designed the stone and timber construction with a pointed roof and shingle façade.
Masterpieces from many eras, from Romanesque to Baroque
A range of special churches can be found throughout Vorarlberg and the Lake Constance area. These fantastic Baroque churches and monasteries were all designed by master builders from Bregenzerwald.
Amongst the countless churches found throughout Vorarlberg, the Rankweil basilica stands out. Originally a fortified church, this special place of worship is located on an inselberg, or isolated ridge. The Liebfrauenkirche church, with its Gothic and Baroque elements, has always been a key Marian pilgrimage site.
The Romanesque church on the Reichenau island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island, which is known for its vegetable cultivation, is located in Lake Constance, not far from city of Konstanz.
The works of a Baroque master builder from Bregenzerwald
A quick spurt of building immediately followed the Thirty Years’ War in Central Europe. The exuberant Baroque architecture of the time reflected the high spirits of the post-war era. Some of the most magnificent Baroque churches in southern Germany, Switzerland and even in Alsace were built in the 17th and 18th centuries by master builders and craftsman from the Bregenzerwald Baroque Builders’ School. The majority of architects came from the “Auer Zunft” guild.
Michael Beer had the idea of founding a guild. In 1650, he founded the “Auer Zunft” guild, which united master builders, master bricklayers, carpenters, stonemasons and stucco plasterers. Nearly the entire male population living in Au and Schoppernau at the time earned a living from construction works.
The interpersonal unity of members, many of whom were related to one another, was surely a key success factor of the Auer Zunft guild. The Guild even offered opportunities for continuing education and retirement benefits. For generations, the same families led the way: 53 masters had the last name Moosbrugger, 33 were called Beer, seven Thumb and seven Kuen.
The following were examples of their fantastic craftsmanship
- the monastery and the pilgrimage church in Birnau (D), which is scenically located on Lake Constance between Meeresburg and Überlingen
- the Benedictine monastery and the church in Einsiedeln (CH) in the Canton of Schwyz.The Black Madonna in the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of Mercy) attracts pilgrims and visitors
- The collegiate church in St. Gallen (CH) is a prime example of effortless Baroque style and soft colours.The ensemble with monastery grounds and worthwhile collegiate-church library is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.