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Published: June 10th 2011
Bridge over Sarine and old town
Bridge over the Sarine River with old town wall in background
Because the weather continues to be low cloud with drizzle, we thought it best to head to somewhere out of the mountains. We knew that Fribourg was an ancient town that we hadn’t visited so took the train from Grindelwald/Interlaken/Bern/Fribourg – a 2 hour trip which isn’t bad considering the train changes. Bern Bahnhoff was the usual chaos that we remember – people everywhere finding their connecting trains.
We called at the Visitor Centre in Fribourg and picked up a walking guide which would take us through the main part of the city and into the old town then steeply down to the river. This city is a perfect example of a medieval town built in the 1200’s and added to in the 1500’s. The Old Town has many churches and fountains, monasteries, beautifully restored buildings and old bridges across the River Sarine. Parts of the old town walls still exist built into the limestone cliffs along the river. The gates into the old city still exist too except now it is cars and buses that pass through. We visited the main Cathedral of St Nicholas which is a huge gothic structure. Inside is quite austere, with soaring gothic ceilings,
Old Town Entrance Gate
Gate at the entrance to the old fortified town of Fribourg
but the stained glass windows throughout and the pipe organ are magnificent. We could have walked up the bell tower but the 300+ steps put us off as we had more than enough uphill to walk back up to the town from the river. It was an easy town to spend a lot of time in wandering about ancient cobbled streets.
The city is a University Town with more than 10,000 students which was evident as soon as you leave the railway station. There are young people everywhere – except down in the old town which seemed very, very quiet.
Fribourg is a French speaking city on the dividing line between French and German. It is odd to be in a German speaking area, then 2 hours away be French speaking. It's Guten Tag in the morning and Bon Jour in the afternoon.
There are many towns and cities throughout Switzerland with fortified old towns but Fribourg is a step above others. It is well worth a visit, even, a ‘must do’.
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