Take an unforgettable journey back in time through the décors, works of art and historical objects from various eras.

Treasures of the Middle Ages

Gruyères Castle never came under attack during the Middle Ages, but some of the counts nevertheless distinguished themselves in battle; they include Rudolph the Young and Jean II of Montsalvens during the Hundred Years War, and Louis fighting alongside the Confederates during the Burgundian Wars against Charles the Bold.

The Burgundary capes that are preserved in the Burgundian Room are part of the booty seized in 1476 during the Battle of Murten by the Confederate troops, with their formidable halberdiers and pikemen.

Located at the base of the keep, the Guard Room was probably reserved for the count’s men, who would access it from the wall walk or the castle courtyard. In the late 15th century the window arch, along with that of the adjacent kitchen, was enlarged to admit more light.

The Chapel of St. John the Baptist also dates from the 15th century, though the presence of a place for religious worship at the castle is attested as far back as the 13th century. Commissioned by Count Louis, it is housed in a former defensive tower. The stained-glass windows, made in 1482 by a workshop in Vevey, depict St. John the Baptist baptising Christ and the Pietà, with the coat of arms and figures of Louis and his wife Claude de Seyssel beneath them.

Ancien Régime decors

In 1554 Gruyère falls into the hands of Fribourg, which sends its representatives, known as bailiffs, to administer the district. A succession of bailiffs appointed for a three- to four-year term occupy the castle from 1555 to 1798. Few traces of this period have been preserved, except for the completely painted ceiling of the Medallion Room and the wall paintings, heraldic stained-glass windows and the stove with ceramic tiles in the Bailiffs’ Room.

Created by Master Cuen in 1685–1686, the paintings in this room depict a series of fake marble columns on a background of stylised scrolls topped by cranes and a frieze with foliage designs, mixed with animals and fruits. Commissioned by bailiff Jean-Jacques Joseph d’Alt, the décor prominently features the arms of the City of Fribourg, its treasurer and secretary. Graffiti from the 17th and 18th centuries also bear witness to the presence of those who worked in this room.

Shortly after arriving at the castle, the bailiffs of Fribourg embark on a major programme of maintenance work. In particular, they order the construction of the wooden galleries in 1586–1587, probably to replace older galleries that had fallen into disrepair. It is not known whether a tiled roof was added immediately, but it is certain that the new covering rendered unusable the sundials painted with the arms of Fribourg in 1559.

An artists’ colony

Beginning in 1850, Gruyères Castle plays host to an artists’ colony instigated by the painter Daniel Bovy. Work and encounters between artists, writers and musicians are part and parcel of everyday life. Daniel invites his friends, including the French painter Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot and Barthélemy Menn, a teacher of draughtsmanship from Geneva, and everyone takes part in creating the new décors for the rooms of the residence, with Daniel Bovy in charge.

The exquisite landscapes of Corot and Menn bear witness to this artistic collaboration in the room that, to this day, bears the name of the French painter. The Furet Room and the Baud-Bovy Gallery, meanwhile, are devoted to the second generation of painters who started out at Gruyères Castle.

Aided by his colony of artists, Daniel Bovy designs a number of new rooms celebrating the golden age of the counts, particularly throughout the second floor. The décor of these rooms, which are partly furnished with medieval furniture, culminates in the Knights’ Room, in which the artist reinterprets the history of the counts of Gruyère in a grand cycle of paintings that blends truth with legend.

The present-day French-style garden, surrounded by the verdant countryside of the Fribourg Alpine foothills, is also laid out in its current form by the Bovy and Balland families in around 1900. This space, which has been entirely enclosed since 1620–1621, has been arranged in accordance with prevailing fashion over the centuries. The kitchen garden and leisure garden of medieval times are replaced by a garden divided into sections, with leafy pavilions providing a place of relaxation for the bailiffs.