The town of Gruyères itself is unique: a medieval village consisting of a cobble-stoned main street flanked by ancient but beautifully preserved buildings – a tribute both to the local statesmen’s commitment to the rich history of their canton, and to the craftsmen restorers who have kept the village in its pristine condition. The famous 13th century castle, the Château de Gruyères, towers over the town and the valley below. The entire town is car-free, and the cobbled main street is an uphill slope to the château, so remember to wear comfortable walking shoes. Not only is the architecture of the medieval buildings themselves worth seeing, but some exceptional art and cultural exhibitions are housed here. And to top it off, you are surrounded by some of the most breathtaking views in Switzerland.
A visit to the castle is a journey across eight centuries of architecture, history and culture. The castle was the residence of the counts of Gruyères.
The castle, constructed in the 13th century, was home to a long succession of Gruyères counts. Michel, the last of them, faced financial difficulties and declared bankruptcy in 1554. The creditors – the towns of Fribourg and Berne – shared his land between them. The Castle became the headquarters of the Fribourg bailiffs (1555-1798), then the prefects’ residence until 1848. It was put up for sale in 1849 and became the property of the Bovy and Balland families, who stayed there in summer and took care of restoration of the site with their artist friends. In 1938, the State of Fribourg bought the Castle and opened a museum.