Gruyeres

TOP 30 EUROPE
Category(ies):
Presentation

The famous cheese takes its name from the region and the city in which it was built: the castle of Gruyères, located in the canton of Friborg (less than an hour by car from Lausanne), in Switzerland.

Dominating the middle valley of the Sarine of the Friborg Pre-Alps, it occupies a strategic position 115 meters above the surrounding plain.

From an architectural point of view, it was built according to a plan widely used in Switzerland, called the Savoyard square (military model developed by the House of Savoy). We find the same construction plan in particular at the castle of Bulle or Chillon.

Built in the 13th century, the first references to the castle date back exactly to 1244 (archives), at that time it was the main residence of one of the most important noble families of Western Switzerland in the Middle Ages: the Counts of Gruyère.

In the 15th century, Count Louis (known for his fight against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and for being one of the main leaders of the Battle of Murten in 1476) transformed the fortified castle into a stately home.

Managed by the counts for several centuries, the castle became in 1554 the property of the bailiffs (who were at the time regional management bodies by several Swiss cantons), following the bankruptcy of Count Michel, beset by financial problems and who has had his property confiscated.

For nearly 250 years, the bailiffs continued to extend pastures in the Alps, increase cheese production and export to foreign markets. The gruyère wheels set off for Vevey (located on the northern shore of Lake Geneva) where they are loaded onto boats that transport them to Lyon, France.

In the middle of the 19th century, the castle, considered too expensive to maintain, was put up for sale. A family from Geneva wins the auction.

Already the owner of a castle near Geneva (La Boissière), the Bovy family will undertake, during the summers, many works of development and restoration.

For the interior decoration, Daniel Bovy invites his artist friends (from France and Geneva) to the summer residence and all participate in the new decor of the castle, which over time becomes a real artistic residence (sculptors, painters, writers, …).

Evidence of this creative era, the paintings of Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Barthélemy Men adorn the walls of the castle even today.

Now open to visitors, the Château de Gruyères, its formal gardens, its esplanade, including the Corot salon and the Baillis room, is undoubtedly worth a detour.

Contact details