Fribourg: take a walk along the medieval city walls

How about an exciting excursion to historic Fribourg? An almost two-kilometer-long fortress belt with six towers, five gates and a bulwark surrounding the city awaits you there! Did you know that you can explore the medieval city walls of Freiburg during the summer season from May to October? They are freely accessible and waiting to be discovered by you! If you want to find out more about this exciting city tour, read on! At the end of the post, you’ll also find tips on other Swiss towns where you can take a stroll along the historic fortifications.

How to reach Fribourg

Fribourg is less than 35 kilometers southwest of Bern. You can get here by train directly from Bern (25 minutes) or by car on the A12 motorway in half an hour. You can park at Parking des Grand-Places (Manor)—All. des Grand-Places 1, 1700 Fribourg.

Historic fortifications of Fribourg

The first fortified ring wall was built in 1157 by Berchtold IV of Zähringen at the founding of Freiburg. Further fortifications were built in the Middle Ages between the 13th and 15th centuries. These largely preserved fortifications today form the largest and most important medieval architectural ensemble in Switzerland. You can visit the walls without a guide, but the city offers guided tours all year round.

Route and markings

The route starts right in the city center, at the tourist office, but you can “hop on” it pretty much anywhere. You can pick up a route map from the tourist office or the Tourenplaner SCHWEIZ app. If you like to find your way around by following the signs alnog the route, look for these blue diamonds inconspicuously placed on lampposts or fences.

Places of interest along the route

As I wrote in the introduction, you can visit seven sections of the city walls, six towers, five gates, and a defensive bastion. At each site you will find a description in French, German, and English.

The Great Bulwark

Fribourg originally had four bulwarks, but this is the only one that has survived. It was built in a semicircular shape between 1490 and 1496, and in 1537, the two upper floors of the bastion were demolished. The gunports were altered in 1672 and 1683.

The longest preserved fortification wall

The section from the bastion through the Murtentor to the garden of the Pädagogische Hochschule is Switzerland’s longest surviving fortification wall.

Murtentor/Murten Gate

The rectangular seven-story tower, built between 1410 and 1414, is the tallest in the city at 34 meters. Interestingly, its interior contains a climbing centre.

The footbridge over the Saane River and the cliffs

Cross the footbridge Passerelle des Neigles to reach the other side of the Saane River. For the less adventurous among you, the footbridge sways slightly and crossing it is like walking on a suspension bridge.

Berntor Gate

The preserved Berntor Gate is very impressive.

Katzenturm tower

Just behind the Berntor is the Katzenturm tower, which offers a nice city view and is interestingly lit from the inside.

Shortcut to the city

If you find the route too long (I understand that younger children may get tired of the constant climb up the stairs), instead of going to the Roter Turm, you can cross the covered wooden bridge Pont de Berne and head into the city centre to the cathedral. From its tower, you’ll have a panoramic view of the city’s fortifications in all their glory.

Summary

  • The entire route is 6.7 km long and unsuitable for strollers.
  • The coordinates of the route can be found in the Tourenplaner SCHWEIZ app or in the printed guide “Die 44 schönsten Familien Wanderungen“.

Other Swiss cities where you can walk part of the walls

Categories: Cities, hiking
Visiting the cheese-dairy Maison de la Tête de Moine in Bellelay
Esterliturm Lenzburg: an extraordinary lookout tower made of concrete tubes

Author

Hana Hurábová

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