14,022 (Dec 31, 2008)
| Einsiedeln Abbey, Sihlsee, Etzel, Etzel Pass, Chatzenstrick Pass|
Einsiedeln is a municipality and district in the canton of Schwyz in Switzerland known for its monastery, the Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey. Einsiedeln is also the birthplace of Paracelsus, a Renaissance physician and alchemist who is credited with first naming zinc.
Archaeologists have discovered numerous artifacts from the stone age and the Bronze Age in the Einsiedeln area. However, it appears from these artifacts, some of which are about 12,000 years old, that the area was thickly wooded and only used by hunters. Until the Early Middle Ages there were no permanent settlements in the area.
Einsiedeln comprises six localities: Bennau, Egg, Willerzell, Euthal, Gross and Trachslau. The village of Biberbrugg is shared with the municipality of Feusisberg. Einsiedeln has a total area of 99.1 km2 (38.3 sq mi), of which nearly half (47.1%) is agricultural and only slightly less (44.5%) is forested. The rest of the land is either settled (5.5%) or non-productive (less than 2.8%). Einsiedeln is located approximately 7.5 km (4.7 mi) from the southern end of the Lake of Zurich, up a plateau (ca. 880 m (2,890 ft) above sea level) and situated near the artificial mountain lake Sihlsee. The town is located at an altitude of 470 m (1,540 ft) higher than Zurich, with which it has a railway connection.
Einsiedeln is also the capital and only municipality of the District of Einsiedeln.
The village of Einsiedeln is a popular tourist destination in central Switzerland. The Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey, located within the village, is considered one of the most important Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites in Europe and is called "the most important place of pilgrimage dedicated to the Virgin Mary in Switzerland". In addition to the Abbey, Einsiedeln is also a popular destination for sports year round. The village has 3 ski areas which include lifts as well as ski jumps.
Since the Middle Ages the Graces Chapel and a statue of the Black Madonna have been the centerpiece of the pilgrimage. The statue is so famous that a copy can also be seen in the French Jura town of Pontarlier. Between 150,000 and 200,000 pilgrims visit the Graces Chapel each year.
Besides being a site for pilgrimages, Einsiedeln is a tourist destination for those interested in winter sports. The village has its own ski jump, ski lifts, ski tows and winter sports centres, which are in the nearby area of Hoch-Ybrig and Brunni.
The nearby reservoir, Sihlsee, is used in summer for swimming, surfing and sailing, and in the winter for ice-skating. The dam, which retains the lake, produces electricity for the trains and protects the city of Zurich further down the valley from the flood of the Sihl.
These days, fewer pilgrims come to Einsiedeln. For that reason, some of the former hotels have now closed. At the same time, the village has experienced a boom with day tourists, owing to the clear air and mountain views. Because of the high quality of life locally, the population is growing faster than is normal in Switzerland.