Pierre-Alain Clement SPS/PSS
(as of February 2014)
| University of Fribourg, HES-SO Fribourg|
La Maigrauge Abbey, Lac de Perolles, Fribourg Cathedral, Bible and Orient Museum
Fribourg ( Arpitan: , German: or Freiburg im Uechtland, Italian: or Friborgo; Romansh: ) is the capital of the Swiss canton of Fribourg and the district of Sarine. It is located on both sides of the river Saane/Sarine, on the Swiss plateau, and is an important economic, administrative and educational center on the cultural border between German and French Switzerland (Romandy). Its Old City, one of the best maintained in Switzerland, sits on a small rocky hill above the valley of the Sarine.
Fribourg has an elevation of 581 metres (1,906 ft) (in the Old City), and is situated 28 kilometres (17 mi) southwest of Bern. It is located on the Swiss plateau, and extends on both sides of the Saane/Sarine River, which, in the vicinity of Fribourg, has cut deeply into the molasse. The Old City is located on a hill, only about 100 metres (330 ft) wide, which rises about 40 metres (130 ft) above the valley floor. Most quarters of the city are located on the High Plateau and the surrounding hills, which have an average elevation of 620 metres (2,030 ft). The valley floor is only settled in the area immediately around the Old City.
Fribourg has an area, as of 2009, of 9.3 square kilometers (3.6 sq mi). Of this area, 1.25 km2 (0.48 sq mi) or 13.4% is used for agricultural purposes, while 1.58 km2 (0.61 sq mi) or 17.0% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 5.89 km2 (2.27 sq mi) or 63.3% is settled (buildings or roads), 0.53 km2 (0.20 sq mi) or 5.7% is either rivers or lakes and 0.07 km2 (17 acres) or 0.8% is unproductive land.
Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 4.5% of the total area while housing and buildings made up 34.5% and transportation infrastructure made up 15.2%. Power and water infrastructure as well as other special developed areas made up 1.6% of the area while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 7.5%. Out of the forested land, 14.4% of the total land area is heavily forested and 2.6% is covered with orchards or small clusters of trees. Of the agricultural land, 6.9% is used for growing crops and 6.0% is pastures. Of the water in the municipality, 1.7% is in lakes and 4.0% is in rivers and streams.
The area of the municipality, which is relatively small for a city, covers an area of Molasse in the central part of Canton Fribourg. The area is cut through from south to north by the tightly wound Saane/Sarine River, which has eroded a valley, in some places, to a depth of 100 metres (330 ft) below the surrounding Plateau. In general, the valley floor is between 200 and 500 metres (660 and 1,640 ft) wide. Perolles-See, formed as a reservoir by Maigrauge Dam, the first Gravity Dam in Europe, in 1872, is located south of the city. The head of the Schiffenensee is located just 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north of the city. At both of these artificial lakes, the Saane/Sarine covers nearly the entire valley floor.
The hills flanked on both sides by steep, largely wooded, slopes. To the east, the municipality reaches up the slopes of Mount Schonberg, which, with an elevation of 702 metres (2,303 ft), is the highest point in Fribourg. The Galtera River, also deeply cut into the plateau, flows between the mountain and the river, emptying into the Saane/Sarine near the Old City.
The former village of Bourguillon lies within the municipality. Fribourg borders on Dudingen and Tafers to the east, Pierrafortscha to the southeast, Marly to the south, Villars-sur-Glane and Givisiez to the west, and Granges-Paccot to the north.
The region around Fribourg has been settled since the Neolithic period, although few remains have been found. These include some flint tools found near Bourguillon, as well as a stone hatchet and bronze tools. A river crossing was located in the area during the Roman Era. The main activity in the Swiss plateau bypassed the area to the north, however, and was instead centered around the valley of the Broye River and Aventicum. Therefore only a few remains from the Roman era have been found in Fribourg. These include the traces of a wall foundation on the plains near Perolles.
Several types of industry developed in Fribourg as early as the 13th and 14th centuries. The extension of the city along the east bank of the Saane/Sarine River made about this time was indicative of a strong economic upturn. In Galterntal, water power was used for various mills. Along the Saane new trade districts developed with the towns of Au, Neustadt and Matten.
Fribourg is a day trip destination for tourists who want to visit the sights of the city. These include the historic Old City with its Gothic Cathedral of Saint Nicholas renowned for its stained glass windows designed by Jozef Mehoffer, and the museums. The Natural History Museum was founded in 1873, and is now located in the natural sciences building at the University. The Museum of Art and History, located in the Ratzehof since 1920, has exhibits on ancient and early history, sculpture and paintings, traditional tin figures, arts and crafts, as well as money and graphic collections. In the cathedral, a treasure chamber has been on display since 1992. Other museums include the Swiss Museum of Marionnettes, the Swiss Sewing Machine Museum, the Gutenberg Museum, the Bible and Orient Museum and a beer museum.
Cultural experiences include the festival of religious music, the international folklore convention, the jazz parade, an international film festival and Cineplus (since 1972).
Like its sister city Bern, Fribourg has preserved its medieval center as a whole that is now one of the largest in Europe. It is located on a spectacular peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Saane/Sarine river. The architecture of the Old City date primarily from the Gothic period; it was built predominately before the 16th century. Most houses are built of the local molasse stone. Consisting of the neighborhoods Bourg, Auge and Neuveville, its old town is rich in fountains and churches dating from the 12th century until the 17th century. Its cathedral, reaching 76 metres (249 ft) in height, was built between 1283 and 1490. The fortifications of Fribourg form the most important medieval military architecture of Switzerland: 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) of ramparts, 14 towers and one big bulwark. The protections are especially well preserved east and south of the city.