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June 15, 2003
From the Neuveville the ancient cobbled Rue de la Grand-Fontaine heads sharply up towards the Hôtel de Ville. Catch your breath and turn left here. Rue des Alpes, supported on pillars above Neuveville, leads you back to Place Python; its valley-side railings offer wonderful views of the river.
Fribourg is definitely a walking city, but if the hills are too steep for you (or you ran out of time) than you may want to take advantage of bus No. 4; it runs every 15 minutes or so, starting at the train station, running down all the way through the Old Town to Place du Petit-St-Jean, then over the Pont de Berne to beneath the Pont de Zaehringen, before turning round and crossing the Pont de Berne and Pont de Milieu to the Planche- Supérieure and the Pont de St-Jean, and running through Neuveville on its way back up to the station again.
From journal Fribourg - a hidden treasure
Now let’s return back to the Place du Petit-St-Jean. The Pont de Milieu leads southwest to the Planche-Supérieure, below the mighty precipices cut by the Sarine River. A fountain statue of John the Baptist (1547) overlooks the square. Dominating the square is picturesque old granary (1708). Cafés on the square offer incredible panoramas across the valley to the backs of the Grand’Rue mansions. Stepped paths from the square climb south up to the ridge-side Porte de Bourguillon and, beside it on a lofty terrace, the Loretto Chapel, an ornate little building built in 1648 that offers spectacular vistas out over the whole city.
Northeast from the Place du Petit-St-Jean is the picturesque covered wooden bridge - Pont de Berne, leading to the ancient Rue des Forgerons (Street of the Blacksmiths) on the east bank of the river. The little bridgehead square, one of Fribourg’s prettiest, holds the celebrated Loyalty Fountain (1553). To the left is the Porte de Berne, a city gate dating from 1270 that has somehow clung on to its original doors. Behind the gate, turn right and follow up the ancient covered steps along the ramparts to the Tours des Chais – view from the tower area is breathtaking.
Cross the square and walk down towards the late-Gothic Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), a beautiful building dating from 1501–22, whose double exterior staircase was added in 1663. St George spears the dragon on a fountain statue dating from 1525 in the Place de l’Hôtel de Ville square in front of the Town Hall.
Fribourg’s landmark is the towering, High Gothic Cathédrale St-Nicolas, just off Place Notre-Dame. Unlike many other famous cathedrals, it has only one tower but an awesome one. Built over a church dating from the city’s foundation in 1157, the present building was begun in 1283, and took two centuries to complete. On the main portal you will see the scenes from the Last Judgement. Don’t miss the Chapel of the Holy Sepulchre, to the right of the door as you come in.