The day after we got back from Zürich, A and I headed to Fribourg to visit his grandparents. They invited us to stay with them and show us around their city an entire year ago, so needless to say, our trip was a bit overdue... but with A spending last autumn in York, the general craziness of the spring and the summer travels, finding a time that worked for everyone was harder than it probably should have been. I'm so glad we finally managed though because the trip was lovely and getting to know his grandparents a bit better was wonderful. I've really appreciated seeing more of A's family over the past few weeks. He comes from such a well-adjusted, loving, and engaging family that it's not only gratifying to see where he gets certain qualities but also quite honestly comforting to see that such families exist.
I had meetings for most of the day in Geneva the day we went out to Fribourg, so we didn't arrive until dinner time, but we got up and headed out to explore the city the next morning with A's grandmother. Below are some of the photos I took during our walk:
Fribourg is quite a hilly city, so there are lots of stairs, hills, and passageways to lead up and down the city.
We went out to Fribourg once before: to celebrate Saint Nicolas last December, and all I remembered from that trip was the city's cathedral. We arrived in the evening then too and then went out for the festivities before leaving later that night, so all I really got to see then was the street leading to cathedral tower.
I expected the cathedral to be gorgeous, but I wasn't expecting it to be so because it mixes different architectural and artistic styles together. You can't really tell in this picture, but all the stained glass windows in the cathedral were added at the beginning of the 20th century and feature Art Nouveau illustrations. As gothic cathedrals are my favorite but as I have a weakness for the turn of the century, the combination was quite something to behold, and I still find myself thinking of it.
Since Fribourg is so hilly, its old city is split between sections at the top and areas in the "Basse-ville." After touring the cathedral, we looked over the city before making our way down.
We saw many churches on our visit, and each was remarkable in its own way. After seeing the cathedral, I knew to expect artistic surprises, and what maybe most stood out to me through the visits was the way the outside of the churches/abbeys were quite simple but contained far more elaborate interiors. The église des Augustins, for instance, had a jeweled skeleton/catacomb saint called "Saint Victor" on display:
I saw quite a few of these when I was in Rome last summer, but I wasn't expecting to see them in Fribourg. We saw not one but two as there was another in the Musée d'art et d'histoire. I find the past tradition of exhuming skeletons and decorating them as saints to be absolutely fascinating but disturbingly morbid. I was brought up in a very a-religious environment, and I have trouble seeing anything more than a jeweled skeleton, and even knowing the context, nope.
Fribourg is one of those relatively rare Swiss cities, like Bern, that instead of being located on the shores of a lake is located on the banks of a river. The city consequently used to have a lot of covered bridges that helped make navigation easier. Sadly, only one of the bridges remains.
I was enchanted with this little house as we were starting to make our way back up after walking around and lunching in the Base-ville. As I said in my post on Zurich yesterday, I love, love painted buildings. A's grandmother pointed out that one of A's aunt's friends lived in the house a long time ago and that it didn't used to look like this but had been recently restored.
All the stairs. (Also, how pretty is the architecture?)
After making it up the stairs, we visited two more churches. Aesthetically, my favorite was the Église des Cordeliers. I love gray, and I loved the contrast between the simplicity of the flat ceiling and the floors and the intricacy of the painted details and chandeliers.
Our last stop of the day was at the Musée d'art et d'histoire. I love that Swiss cities tend to have their art and history museums together in one place. They all have such different content but are wonderful ways to see more about the city you're in. The museum in Fribourg had a lot of religious and medieval art, so it was quite a learning experience for me and quite fun for A.
From beginning to end, our trip to Fribourg was wonderful. I've seen quite a bit of Switzerland at this point, and Fribourg has to be one of the prettiest yet. It's overall very harmonious in its aesthetic architecture and in the way it's set up. I hope there are many more trips to Fribourg in our future.
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I'm Olivia, a twenty-six year old grad student studying in Switzerland. This is where I share my thoughts on the academic journey, culture, travels, baking, and my daily life abroad. Read More.