The small Swiss town of Friborg surprises from the first time: at the same time cozy and patriarchal, it is “stuffed” to the eyeballs with the achievements of modern civilization – from solar panels to electric cars, famously rolling along its streets. Here, in some miraculous way, medieval monuments and modern quarters, a peaceful way of life and seething weekends with midnight dances on bar counters are combined. It is impossible not to fall in love with it – towers with bell towers towering here and there against the backdrop of green mountains, a picturesque river with bridges thrown over it, a perfectly preserved old town… everything in Friborg seems to be created for an inquisitive traveler. Check proexchangerates for more cities and countries in Europe.
The city, which existed for almost its entire history at the junction of French, Italian and German-speaking cantons, has absorbed its own unique features from each of these cultures. The Swiss like to say that Friborg is the most gracious and amiable city in the country, and these are not just words.
How to get to Friborg
You can get to Friborg from Russia by direct flight to Bern or Geneva, then by train. In the first case, you need to take a bus from the airport to the main station of the city (20 minutes and approximately 6.5 CHF), where you can take a train to Friborg (on the way from 20 to 30 minutes, from 7 CHF). From Geneva Airport, the center and the main station can be reached in 5 minutes with free tickets available to all arriving passengers. Then take a train to the capital Aargau: the journey takes about 1.5 hours, travel from 20 CHF.
The first human settlements appeared in the vicinity of Friborg in the Neolithic era. Archologists managed to find here traces of later cultures – Celtic and Roman. But the forerunner of the modern city, the settlement of Friborg, was founded in 1157 by Berthold IV Zaningem.
The old city is compactly located on the peninsula, which was formed due to the dashing bend of the Zane River. It was protected by cliffs from three sides, which played an important fortification role.
Here it is not difficult to travel back many centuries even to tourists deprived of imagination: the whole atmosphere willy-nilly suggests thoughts of the romantic Middle Ages. Narrow cobbled streets, squares with gothic temples and cathedrals, houses huddled together…
Friborg is a very cosmopolitan city, despite its outward patriarchy. Three languages are spoken here at once – French, German and Italian. Many signs are written in all three, newspapers are published in both French and German, and radio stations also broadcast. But the main highlight is that the local dialect called “bolze” is still in use here – a sort of ebullient mixture of French and German. Another integral part of the motley Friborg public is the cheerful company of young students who are engaged at the local famous Catholic University. Representatives from all over the country study in this ancient educational institution, but traditionally there are a large number of Italian cantons among them, which adds a special touch to the life of Friborg.
Entertainment and attractions
Probably the most sightseeing quarter of the city is Burg (or Bourg in French). There are beautiful temples, the famous town hall, old mansions of aristocrats. The central square nestled near the castle is also interesting. Its dimensions are small, but each end has its own name – Nova-Friburgo, Place de l’Hotel de Ville, Place des Ormeaux, Place de Tilleul and Place de Notre-Dame. The name depends on which of the streets to get to this square.
Therefore, this place is often jokingly referred to as “the most elusive square in Switzerland.”
The main architectural dominant of Friborg is the majestic Cathedral of St. Nicholas (1283-1490), which rises in the northwestern part of the medieval city. The gigantic tower of the cathedral is visible from almost any part of the city, which is not surprising, because its height reaches 76 m. The interior of the temple is striking in its severity and beauty. Here you can see carvings from the 15th century, wonderful stained glass windows by Mehoffer and Manessier, as well as an organ created in the century before last. (Entrance to the cathedral is free.)
Not inferior to the main city temple and the Notre Dame Basilica with an unusually light and seemingly weightless interior. Directly opposite you can see the fountain “Samson tears the lion’s mouth”, copied from the project of the great Dürer.
From the ancient monastery, founded in 1256, the Franciscan church, restored in the 18th and 19th centuries, has survived to this day. Despite this, the temple retains its medieval appearance to this day. Inside you can see an old altar, a crucifix from the end of the 15th century and a Gothic choir, which is considered the oldest in Switzerland.
An excellent example of late Gothic is the town hall building, built between 1501 and 1522. The colorful fountain of St. George, erected in 1525, also attracts attention. Separately, it is worth mentioning the beautiful bridges of Friborg, the most famous of which are the suspended Saringen and the wooden Bern bridge.
By the way, an interesting point is connected with the Zane River. It is jokingly called the “röstigraben” (conditional border, literally “ditch of the rösti”), which divides the country into French and German-speaking cantons. The former are still trying to settle on the western bank of the river, the latter on the eastern, but the carefree Italian-speaking residents of Friborg feel equally comfortable on both banks.
The fortification system of the city, which is considered one of the most advanced in all of Switzerland, has survived to this day in excellent condition. The length of the ramparts alone here reaches almost 2 km. 14 towers and several sections of the walls have been preserved. They are most impressive in the east and south of the old city. Places not to be missed include the castle of Poya, the fortress of Tours Rouge, the fortified Augustinian monastery and the mighty church of St. Michael.
Museums in Friborg
It would be blatantly unfair not to mention the wonderful dozen local museums, which, frankly, is extraordinary for a city with a population of about 35 thousand people. Of exceptional interest is the Natural History Museum, founded back in 1837. Other interesting collections are the Guttenberg Museum, the Jean Tinguely Museum of Mechanical Sculptures, and the Treasure Chamber in St. Nicholas Cathedral. Being in Switzerland, it would be a shame not to visit the Museum of Puppets and Sewing Machines, because this country is so famous for both. Well, for lovers of the amber drink, the Cardinal Brewery Museum is open.
Friborg lies in the western part of Switzerland and serves as the capital of the canton of the same name. Just 28 km to the east is the capital of the country – Bern, and to the picturesque Lake Neuchâtel – 25 km to the west. A little further, 40 km, lies the mirror-like surface of the magnificent Lake Geneva. And in less than 10 km, the spurs of the Friborg Alps begin.