an old town remarkably preserved
de Fribourg - Freiburgerland
center of the canton of the same name, the region is made up
of the parishes of Corminboeuf, Düdingen, Ecuvillens, Givisiez,
Granges-Paccot, Grolley, Marly, Matran, Pierrafortscha, Posieux,
Villarsel-sur-Marly and Villars-sur-Glâne.
up within the bends of the Sarine, Fribourg was founded in 1157
by duke Berthold IV of Zaehringen, as part of his consolidation
of regional power, which also saw the establishment of Bern,
Burgdorf, Thun and Murten, as well as Freiburg-im-Breisgau northeast
of Basel in Germany.
1218, the Zähringens were succeeded by the Counts of Kyburg,
who were themselves bought out by the Austrian Habsburgs in 1277.
Fribourg passed from hand to hand with each succession. In 1452,
the House of Savoy took over, although in the Burgundian Wars
shortly afterwards Fribourg backed the victorious Swiss against
Savoy, and so became a free city.
remained Catholic throughout the Reformation (and is still determinedly
Catholic today). Virtually surrounded by Protestant Bern, it
became a place of refuge for the exiled bishops of Geneva and
Lausanne. The oligarchic ruling families retained their grip
on power even throughout the 1798 upheavals, and in 1846 Fribourg
joined the reactionary Sonderbund, fighting against Protestant
liberalism all around. It lost, and suffered expulsion of its
Jesuits as revenge. Intolerance was short-lived, though: Jews
were allowed to return to Fribourg in 1866 after almost 400 years
of banishment from the city, and a local entrepreneur, Georges
Python, founded the Catholic university in 1889.
stagnated for much of the twentieth century, stymied by economic
depression, but the boom of the last third of the century has
brought new wealth and energy to the city. It gradually became
an economic center, a process completed in the middle of the
19th century by the construction of the Berne-Lausanne railway
line and Fribourg station, around which the modern town was to
town as a coherent urban whole, astonishingly beautiful and remarkably
preserved, constitutes one of the finest groups of medieval architecture
in Europe and is proving to be an attraction unique in Switzerland.
picture, you can see the Sarine and on the right, the Pont de
Zaehringen. In the middle, the St. Nicholas Cathedral and its
cobbled streets, bedecked with wrought-iron lamp standards and
ornate inn signs, are picturesque and characterful. Bridges,
from medieval wooden fords to lofty modern valley spans, provide
views back across the town of the old houses piled up together
on the slopes.
left, a better view of the Zaehringen bridge and the tower of
the cathedral. I took this picture from the site where the Loreto
Chapel is located.
of the hill on the right, the Loreto Chapel (Chapelle de Lorette)
and a tower of the "remparts" (on the left).
de Lorette (Loreto Chapel), a baroque building (1647-48) which
offers a magnificent view of the old town of Fribourg, is a smaller
copy of Santa Casa de Loreto, in Italy.
is perhaps Switzerlands most amiable and easygoing town,
thoroughly modern at heart despite the medieval appearance of
some quarters. It is small enough to have kept most of its city
center residential, but large enough to have attracted a lively,
cosmopolitan mix of people to fuel the community atmosphere.
the countrys most prestigious universities and its
sole Catholic one attracts a massive student body to Fribourg
from all over the country, and especially from Italian-speaking
Ticino, thereby generating a social dynamism that is tangible
on the streets. In addition, the Sarine (Saane, in German), which
carves a path through the town, is the local defining line of
is split roughly 70:30 between French speakers, who are a majority
on the western bank; and Swiss-German speakers, who form a majority
on the eastern bank.
radio station has two separate channels, many streets have two
names, and almost everyone is instinctively bilingual.
of Fribourg are the most representative of medieval military
architecture in Switzerland. There two kilometres of ramparts,
a big boulevard, and 14 towers. The city has 11 historical fountains
that date from the Middle Ages and many bridges, for it was built
on a bend in the Sarine River.
streets lead east to the busy Place Python, at the centre of
the modern city. From there, three routes lead into the Old Town. To the south, the trafficky Route des Alpes is
supported on pillars above Neuveville, but its valley-side railings
offer wonderful views of the river and of Fribourgs rustic
left, the tower of the cathedral, seen from Route des Alpes.
the many bridges of Fribourg there are: The Berne Bridge (mid-18th-century;
Fribourg's last covered wooden bridge; 40 metres long); The Middle
Bridge (1720; four arches made of tufa stone; 70 metres long);
St. John's Bridge (1746; three arches made of tufa stone); The
Zaehringen Bridge (1924; 265 metres long; formerly a suspension
bridge); The Gottéron Bridge (1956-1960; 150 metres long;
formerly a suspension bridge).
Rue de Lausanne, a picturesque cobbled thoroughfare of pavement
cafés and bookshops, heads directly downhill from Place
from the new town converge in the Old Towns most historically
important and prestigious district, known as the Bourg, home
to churches, the cathedral, the town hall and an array of mansions
and patrician townhouses.
central square is a small space actually comprising four separate
areas. The Brazilian city Nova-Friburgo, in the Rio de Janeiro
state, which is a hommage to the Switzerland Fribourg city, gives
name to the Place de Nova-Fribourgo, at the foot of Rue de Lausanne,
with, opposite it, Place de lHôtel de Ville. Next
to it is a tree-lined square known either as Place des Ormeaux
(Square of the Elm Trees) or Place de Tilleul (Square of the
Lime Tree); and next to that is Place de Notre-Dame.
specially around the Rue de Lausanne area, it is not so difficult
to find some Brazilians, who are either tourists, students or
residents of Fribourg.
left, the Sarine and the roofs of the houses of Bourg.
presence to one side is the late-Gothic Hôtel de Ville
(Town Hall), a highly photogenic building dating from 150122,
whose double exterior staircase was added in 1663. St. George
spears the dragon on a fountain statue dating from 1525 in the
square in front of the building.
highlight is the Gothic style St-Nicolas Cathedral, just off
Place Notre-Dame, lying about 50m over the Sarine. Built over
a church dating from the citys foundation in 1157, the
present building was begun in 1283 and took over two centuries
to complete (1283-1490).
has a rich architectural decor and houses precious objects from
various periods, including Aloys Mooser's famous organs, Jozef
Mehoffer's stained-glass windows and Alfred Manessier's Holy
night falls on December, 6, St. Nicolas (St. Nicholas), the patron
saint of Fribourg, rides a donkey through the streets of the
Old City leading a procession towards the platform erected under
the portico of the cathedral. From the tribune, the student playing
the role of the saint addresses the large crowd assembled in
traditional celebration of St. Nicholas Day, which can also be
found elsewhere in the canton, e.g. Bulle, and which was revived
at the beginning of this century, dates back to an ancient custom
celebrated in Fribourg in the eighteenth century: the miracle
performed by St. Nicholas.
to the legend, St. Nicholas brought three children back to life
after they had been cut up by a butcher and put in the salting
tub. This story, which is depicted on the cathedral portico in
Fribourg, has established St. Nicholas as the tutelary saint
of children, especially boys, while St. Catherine is the guardian
angel for girls.
Day, November 25, used to be celebrated in similar fashion in
the top of the tower, a 74-metre-high tower open to the public
from mid-June to the end of September, there is a beautiful view
of the whole city. The stairs of the tower have a total of 368
steps. If you are planning to visit the city and the tower, be
prepared to go up in a narrow spiral until the top and hope there
will not be so many people going the other way around. :o)
:: Previous Page ::
right, St. Nicholas Cathedral, seen from the Place Notre-Dame.
About fifty metres north of it is the porticoed Basilique Notre-Dame,
with white-and-gold stucco work dating from the late eighteenth
century adorning the spacious, airy interior.