The castle dates to the time of Count Peter of Savoy II who ordered its construction in 1255. Under the castle gate, dating from 1516, much rebuilding took place.
Today’s castle is from 1755. Step through the entry and immediately look on the ground. You’ll find the outline, in stone, of the original castle water well. The tall quadrangular tower or the keep, known as the “Luegisland,” served as a watch tower for Adrian von Bubenberg so that he could oversee the Battle of Murten.
Following the reign of the Savoy, the castle served as a residence to the bailiffs from Bern and Fribourg. Throughout history, it also served as a hospital, prison and barracks. Today it houses the Canton of Fribourg’s Prefecture of the Lake District.
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.