Looking for a Swiss German Mennonite history tour? This special edition of our classic European Anabaptist Heritage tour recalls the breakthrough migration of Swiss-German Mennonites to Pennsylvania in the fall of 1717. Touring in Switzerland and Germany, see important locations such as the Anabaptist Cave, Trachselwald Castle, the church at Erlenbach, and the Täuferstieg near Schleitheim where the first Anabaptist confession was written. As you tour Zurich and Bern, hear the Anabaptist story woven into the history of these cities. Also enjoy natural and cultural sights including the Alps, the Rhine River, the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar, and the Cologne cathedral.
300th Anniversary Swiss-German Mennonite Heritage Tour
Saturday, August 12 – Zurich Area
Arrive in Zurich. Veteran TourMagination driver, Jean-Paul Weber, will give us an overview city tour by coach.
Sunday, August 13 – Zurich Area
After a worship service and lunch in Zurich, John Ruth will lead a walking tour of sites related to the birth of Swiss Anabaptism in the 1520’s. Tonight, listen as Benedictine monks chant and sing to the famed black Madonna in the ornate baroque cathedral at Einsiedeln.
Monday, August 14 – Zurich Area
At the Zurich City Library, enjoy an unusual opportunity to see and discuss original visuals related to the birth of the Anabaptist movement. (Most European Heritage tours don’t have time for this historical “deep dive.”) Then drive to Grüningen, where Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz and Georg Blaurock were imprisoned. In the Zurich Oberland, reflect at Bäretswil and the former secret worship site at the so-called “Anabaptist Cave”.
Tuesday, August 15 – Zurich to Bern
A drive through the history-rich countryside just west of Lake Zurich will include a stop at Hirzel, home of Hans Landis (the last Anabaptist martyred in Switzerland, in 1614). At the nearby “Suppenstein” we’ll reflect on an aborted war between Catholics and Protestants that miraculously turned into breaking bread together, followed by a war insisted on by Ulrich Zwingli, in which he was killed. Traveling on to Bern, we’ll stop at the historic Hunsberg farm near Krauchthal. Recall the Anabaptist history of Bern on a city walk.
Wednesday, August 16 – Bern
Driving through the Emmental region, we’ll visit key sites including the Trachselwald Castle, where local Anabaptists were held before transport to the Bernese capital for imprisonment or execution. Lunch at the Affoltern “Käserei” (demonstrating cheese-making). Opportunity to admire (and purchase) the folk-art creations of an Emmental potter and a family woodcarving workshop. See the historic Reformed church at Würzbrunnen, formerly a pre-Christian pagan worship site, in the heart of the densest population of Anabaptists in Bern. View the snow-crowned Alp-chain from a nearby observation tower.
Thursday, August 17 – Bern
Visit the church at Erlenbach in the Simmental where Jacob Amman was baptized, and modern reclamation has disclosed some of Switzerland’s most spectacular pre-Reformation frescoes. An expedition and lunch on the nearby Stockhorn mountain. Afternoon shopping and relaxation in city of Bern. Evening presentation in the Kreuz Hotel studio about the 1717 emigration of Mennonites from Switzerland to Pennsylvania.
Friday, August 18 – Colmar
Before leaving Switzerland, a local farmer will take us on a wagon ride up the Anabaptist climb (Täuferstieg) near Schleitheim where the first Anabaptist confession was written in 1527. Reflect at a unique monument placed in 2004 by Reformed Church leaders as an act of repentance and reconciliation between Anabaptists and their former persecutors. Lunch beside the spectacular Rhine waterfalls at Neuhausen. At the Musée Unterlinden in Colmar, view the Isenheim Altarpiece—most famous triptych in Europe.
Saturday, August 19 – Colmar
In the Alsace Region of France, we’ll walk, shop, and lunch in the quaint town of Riquewihr with its narrow streets and half-timbered houses. Visit the stunning Château du Haut-Koenigsburg—a castle high in the Vosges mountains. At Ohnenheim, a burned out mill will recall the southern signing on to the Dutch Dordrecht Confession in 1660 and the final Amish and Mennonite split 34 years later.
Sunday, August 20 – Kraichgau Region, Sinsheim
In the hilly Kraichgau region of Southwestern Germany, source of the first Mennonite immigrants to the future Lancaster County, PA in 1710, we’ll worship at a church in Sinsheim. Along the newly created “Anabaptist Trail” (Täuferspur) we will visit the cellar in Steinsfurt where an Anabaptist congregation was arrested in 1661. Those who wish can climb the Tower at Steinsberg for a 360-degree view of the Kraichgau landscape.
Monday, August 21 – Kraichgau Region
Today we’ll finish the Kraichgau’s Anabaptist trail with a stop at the Unterbiegelhof, a Mennonite farm. On the way to the Palatinate, we will visit the monument commemorating Martin Luther’s confrontation with Emperor Charles V, when Luther stated, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God.”
Tuesday, August 22 – Palatinate Region
In the fabulously fertile Palatinate region, we’ll visit the semi-communal Mennonite village of Weierhof, including the Mennonitische Forschungsstelle, Germany’s only major Mennonite archives. Nearby are the smaller Pfrimmerhof and other family farms (hofs) we can visit depending on our group’s family connections.
Wednesday, August 23 – Rhine to Cologne
A cruise down the Rhine will take us past magnificent castles, hillside vineyards and the dangerous Lorelei narrows. Later in Cologne, see the twin-towered Gothic cathedral, possibly Europe’s best known church building. Nearby are Roman ruins and a teeming street of stores for last-minute souvenir shopping.
Thursday, August 24 – Home
Drive to Frankfurt and depart on flights for home.
For further information about this Swiss German Mennonite history tour, please contact us. We would be happy to be of assistance.