top of page


437 meters above sea level

4021 inhabitants (as per 1.1.2011)

Näfels Wappen.png
Naefels Weber 1880
Haus an der Letz (Idaheim)
Haus an der Letz Bachmannhaus
Haus zur Beuge
Näfels Church
St Hilarius in the Church of Näfels
St Fridolin in the Church of Näfels
Schlacht bei Naefels
Schlacht bei Naefels 2



In terms of linguistics, the place name "Näfels" did not evolve from "Navis - boat" but from "Novus - New" to "Novale" = new territory, i.e. from the forest reclaimed, cleared land. Due to the shift in the sound, the roman Novalias - Näfels came into being from the Latin "Novale - Novalias".

Until 1395 Näfels had to pay interest to the monastery of Säckingen. Destroyed by federal warriors in 1351, the castle of Näfels had been the seat of the Knights of Näfels and which probably descended to the Habsburg in the 13th century. Näfels participated after 1280 in the construction of the chapel, later church, of Mollis, whose parish it belonged. In 1352 the two Tagwen Obern- and Niedernnevels merged to the Tagwen Näfels. From the dam (Letzi) built around 1353 fragments are still preserved in the western part of Näfels. To commemorate the Battle of Näfels won in 1388, Glarus donated a chapel in 1389 in the vicinity of today's church. Probably in the same year the Landsgemeinde decided the annual celebration of the so-called Näfelser Fahrt (the obelisk-like battle monument in Sendlen of 1888 was designed by Alfred Romang).

Until 1419 a goods market took place every Monday in Näfels, which was then relocated to Glarus. In the Middle Ages, the Näfelser mainly farmed on the basis of small cattle, from the 15th century increasingly of large cattle. A document from 1476 (renewed in 1617) regulated the summer pasture of sheep, pigs, cattle and horses in the Oberseetal.


Näfels rejected the Reformation and formed in 1532 together with Oberurnen (separation in 1868) a separate Catholic parish. A chapel built in 1523 was consecrated in 1534 to the parish church.

From the late Middle Ages, a landed gentry emerged in Näfels, which remained Catholic and in the early modern period produced high-ranking officers for the foreign war services. As founders and builders, they changed the village with striking buildings. Guard Colonel Kaspar Gallati donated 1612 the cemetery chapel. The most valuable building in terms of art history is the Freuler Palace in the village center, which was built by the Guard Colonel Kaspar Freuler in 1642-48. The palace features Renaissance, early Baroque and Régence elements and, with its rich interior design, is one of the most important mansions of the 17th century in Switzerland. Since 1946, the Freuler Palace houses the Museum of the State of Glarus, to which a Glarus Textile Museum was incorporated in 1988 (last overall restoration 1975-89). In 1604, the house An-der-Letz was built as a striking gable house. It was the residence of General Niklaus Franz von Bachmann, was identified by Ida von Müller in 1909 to receive orphans and donated to the community.

The Baroque parish church was built in 1778-81 on the site of the late Gothic church building from 1523 based on plans ofJohann Anton and Jakob Singer (Renovation 1977-78). Näfels developed more and more into the capital of Catholic Glarus: Between 1623 and 1837, the Catholic Landsgemeinde met here 49 times. On the initiative of the Catholic Glarners and the displeasure of the Reformed the Capuchin monstery Mariaburg was founded in 1674, whose construction took place in the following years on the castle hill. In 1986, the Franciscans acquired the monastery from the Capuchins.

In the 18th century, the dairy industry increasingly displaced the export-oriented livestock; as discretionary earnings, the cotton hand spinning evolved. In 1768, an Indienne factory was created, which soon was followed by other textile companies. Between 1799 and 1802, Näfels and the Capuchin monastery suffered heavily under occupation by the French and the related armed conflicts. The Linth correction, in particular the construction of the Escherkanal 1807-11 on Mollis ground also put an end to the frequent flooding in Näfels. Even in the first half of the 19th century several famines threatened, which the community tried to counteract with reclamation projects and intensified cultivation of vegetables and potatoes. Between 1838 and 1841 Näfels was able to buy the alps in the Oberseetal. Industrialization gradually evolved: in 1823 a mechanical spinning mill was opened, in 1833 the first, in 1850 another textile printing plant and in 1856 a metal foundry. The Näfelser steel construction company Arnold Bosshard produced next to numerous railway bridges also the dome of the Federal Parliament in Bern. The connection to the network of the United Swiss Railways in 1859 was a benefit for the local industry. In 1837, the resistance of Näfels to the new cantonal constitution, which no longer took account of denominational differences, led to a two-day occupation of the village by three Glarus companies. Also, the archive of Catholic Glarus was confiscated and transferred to Glarus.

In 1831, the Capuchin Monastery opened a boys' lower grammar school (later as a secondary school with facultative Latin lessons), for which in 1895 a first schoolhouse and in 1954 and 1962 new school buildings were built. In 1984, the Capuchins gave up the convent school and in 1986, the monastery was sold to the Franciscans. With the entry into force of the constitution of 1837, which also regulated the general compulsory education, Näfels had to take care of the village school. The community housed the school for the time being in the Freuler Palace, which was bought in 1840, and built in 1877 an own schoolhouse. Since 1860 there is also a schoolhouse for the students of the Näfelser and Oberurner mountain areas in the Schwändital. Other school buildings followed in 1958 and 1972. In addition to the school the Freuler Palace housed from 1846 onwards also a poor and elderly care home. In 1937 a nursing home for the elderly people was built and in 1984, a regional retirement, residential and nursing home was opened.  In 1890, the first municipal power station of the canton was put into operation in the adjoining rooms of the Freuler Palace (now EW (electric power station) Näfels).

In 1911, the community created a 9.5 km2 game preserve Rauti-Tros in the Oberseetal. In 1957 Maschinenfabrik & Giesserei Netstal AG (since 1976 Netstal-Maschinen AG) chose Näfels as domicile. Added to this were the textile factories Fritz Landolt AG, steel and iron goods companies, electric appliances, an organ building factory, a cardboard factory, a fruit wholesaler, brush factories, construction companies and numerous other commercial enterprises. In 1973, a feeder connected to the A3 motorway was opened.


The Catholic Church St. Hilarius of Näfels

(build in the baroque style 1779-1781)


St. Hilarius Church


The cemetery chapel of Näfels

(built 1612)

Family Names from Näfels



























bottom of page