Fribourg's major attraction is St. Nicholas's Cathedral, on place Notre-Dame (tel. 026/347-10-40), with its lofty 15th-century Gothic bell tower that dominates the medieval quarter. The most remarkable feature is the main porch tympanum, surmounted by a rose window. Depicted are such subjects as the Last Judgment and "heaven and the inferno." The nave dates from the 13th and 14th centuries, although the choir was reconstructed in the 17th century. La Chapelle Saint-Sépulcre, from the 15th century, has some remarkable stained glass and a celebrated organ.
In the vicinity of the cathedral, you'll find old patrician houses. On foot, you can explore this architecturally interesting part of Fribourg -- its Gothic houses, small steep streets, and squares adorned with fountains.
Whether it's called the Rathaus (in German) or the Hôtel de Ville (in French), the town hall of Fribourg is a notable 16th-century building. Located on route des Alpes, its best feature is its octagonal clock tower where mechanical figures strike the hours. Outside the town hall, the seat of the Parliament of Fribourg, traditionally dressed farmers' wives sell produce on Wednesday and Saturday -- the most colorful days to visit the city.
Another important religious site is the Franciscan church Eglise des Cordeliers (tel. 026/347-11-60), located north of place Notre-Dame, where St. Nicholas stands. The choir at the Franciscan church is from the 13th century, the nave is from the 18th century, and the church has an outstanding wood triptych carved in 1513. Its chief attraction is an altarpiece that rises from the main altar, the work of the "Masters of the Carnation," 15th-century artists who signed their works with a white or a red carnation.
The city also has an outstanding art and history museum, the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire (Museum für Kunst und Geschichte), Rue de Morat 12 (tel. 026/305-51-40; www.fr.ch). Housed in the 16th-century Hôtel Ratze and a former slaughterhouse, it has archaeological collections of prehistoric, Roman, and medieval objects, as well as a remarkable series of Burgundian belt buckles. The epic sweep of Fribourg's history comes alive in the sculptures and paintings from the 11th to the 20th centuries. There are also displays on the political, military, and economic life of the canton. Other exhibits include numerous 15th- to 18th-century stained-glass windows and the largest collection in Switzerland of wood sculpture from the first half of the 16th century. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm (till 8pm Thurs). Admission is 8F for adults, 5F for students and seniors.
To reach the upper town of Fribourg, you can take a funicular. At some point you'll want to see the Ponte de Berne, a covered wooden bridge built in 1580.
The best way to sample Fribourg life is from small cafes along rue de Romont or rue de Lausanne. Here you can see the city folk pass by -- about a third calling themselves Freiburger in German, the remaining viewing themselves as Fribourgeois in French.
From a hill rising above the river, Fribourg offers a panoramic view of the Bernese Alps. If you're feeling energetic, rent a bike from the train station on place de la Gare for 28F and go exploring. The best attraction in the environs is Schwarzee (Black Lake), a distance of 27km (17 miles) from the center. It is reached from Fribourg along N74. This can be either a summer or winter excursion, and the scenic setting is one of the most memorable in the area.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.