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La Sarraz

The Payerne Abbey Church

The Payerne Abbey Church, a gem of Romanesque art, was built around the year 1,000 A.D., according to a typically Cluniac layout.

© Olivier Rapin
© O. Rapin

Queen Berthe, the widow of King Rodolphe II of Burgundy, founded the first religious community in Payerne. Under the guidance of Cluny Abbott Mayeul, a small church with three naves was built. The incorporation of Payerne into the powerful Cluny monastery in 960 gave rise to another building.

The Abbey church was built in the 11th century thanks to generous donations from the royal family in Burgundy.

The nave with its chevet of five apses formed one of the purest interior designs in Swiss Romanesque art.

The functional and symbolic harmony of the room (pre-nave with its high chapel dedicated to Saint Michael, nave, transept, choir and chapels) is enhanced by sculpted decorations (canopies, Lombard bands, atlases) and Romanesque (pre-nave) or gothic (chapels) mural paintings. The chapter house bears witness to ancient conventual buildings.

In 1536, the Reform expelled the monks. The Abbey Church was desacralized and used as a granary until the 20th century.

Meanwhile the Abbey church has been renovated. It is a fine Romanesque monument and hosts prestigious art exhibitions.

Geographic situation


Abbatiale de Payerne
Place du Marché
1530 Payerne
Phone +41 (0)26 662 67 04


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