The history of the Schwyz manor houses can be traced back to medieval times. These estates are important to the culture of the canton of Schwyz and Central Switzerland, as they are an expression of a way of life enjoyed by the rural patrician class. Built between 1170 and 1340, the stone residential towers, which are reminiscent of a more urban setting, were joined by log buildings featuring outstanding carpentry. From the 16th century onwards, these two basic architectural forms served as the foundations of the prestigious manorial estates that we see today. In many instances, the architecture and interiors are of great quality and originality.
The early 17th century marked the dawn of the golden era for the houses of the three sons of Rudolf and Dorothea Reding, who grew up in the Bethlehem House. On the area of land known as the Brüel, to the south of Schwyz’s centre, the oldest manor house was built by Heinrich Reding. Built in solid stone, the house’s architecture clearly draws inspiration from patrician townhouses within the territory of the Old Swiss Confederacy. Schwyz’s traditional architectural style was also eschewed during the construction of the Ital Reding House by Ital Reding. The house’s painted corners give it architectural gravitas and expressiveness. This is presumably also the first time that a garden terrace – flanked by two summer houses – was set in front of a house in Schwyz. Rudolf Reding, the third son, designed his house in the Schmiedgasse in the palazzo style. This gives the building the distinctive overall character of a Renaissance palace. It is assumed that an inner courtyard was integrated in the centre of the house.
The money with which to build these splendid manor houses came from the proceeds of mercenary work and allowed the patrician families of Schwyz to express themselves in different ways. It is interesting that the governing families made the interiors much more splendid than the exteriors. They wanted to preserve the façade of the ‘Landesgemeinde’ (‘cantonal assembly’) democracy and not highlight the contrast with the peasantry too strongly.
The townscape of Schwyz is shaped by its splendid manor houses and their gardens. The houses represent an important piece of the culture of Schwyz and Central Switzerland as a whole.
A guided tour lasts two hours and can be booked from Tuesday to Sunday. During the tour, you will walk from estate to estate and take a look through the various garden gates. Along the way, your guide will provide you with interesting information about that era and the impressive manor houses. You will also visit the only house open to the public, the Ital Reding estate and its magnificent garden.
CHF 190.00 flat rate for up to 15 people
CHF 10.00 for every additional person
An additional CHF 2.50 per person for the entry fee to the Ital Reding House
Most of the manor houses are not open to the public. The Ital Reding estate and the Bethlehem House are open to the public from 1 May to 31 October.