Le château et le couvent de Bulle. Foto/Photo: TES

Bulle and Gruyère

Gruyère is world-famous for its cheese and its castle, but who outside Switzerland knows the town of Bulle, the capital of the Gruyère district in canton Fribourg (Freiburg) since 1848? The first written mention of Butulum dates back to 855. In later centuries, the place appears as Bollo, Bullo, and Boll.

Heraldry of the county of Gruyère. Collection: Musée gruérien

The Counts of d’Ogo (better known as the Counts of Gruyère) and the Bishop of Lausanne were the principal landowners at this crossroads of roads to Fribourg, Vevey, Romont, the Valley of Jogne (la vallée de la Jogne) and the Pays-d’Enhaut.

The bishop of Lausanne ruled the town until 1536. That year, Bern conquered the area of today’s canton of Vaud and the bishopric of Lausanne.

Bulle was part of the bishopric’s (secular) territory but refused to surrender to Protestant Bern. The town turned instead to Catholic Fribourg for protection.

The bailiff had his seat in the castle of Bulle from 1537 to 1798

A bailiff of Fribourg then governed the city until 1798 (the French invasion). Fribourg’s rule had the character of an occupied territory  (Untertanengebiet or territoire sujet), and many citizens of Bulle resisted. The main (unsuccessful) revolt took place in 1781 under the leadership of Pierre-Nicolas Chenaux (1740-1781).

Pierre-Nicolas Chenaux (1740-1781)

Even in the new Confederation of 1815, the city resisted the (restored) ancien régime in the canton. Bulle even played a leading role in the Régénération and the liberal Constitution of the canton in 1831. However, conservative forces regained the upper hand after 1840 and the canton joined the Sonderbund.

After the defeat of the Sonderbund in 1847 and since the new Constitution of 1848, Bulle has been the capital of the Gruyère district, in a way acknowledging its economic (especially cattle trade, timber, and cheese) and political role.

The Chapelle de Notre-Dame de Compassion or Notre-Dame-de-Pitié was founded around 1350. The Capuchins settled in the complex in 1665, 120 years after establishing the first Capuchin monastery on Swiss territory in Bigorio (canton of Tessin). The monastery garden, complex, and the Capuchins are still neighbours of Bulle Castle.

The Museum of Gruyère (Musée gruérien) has a richly illustrated overview of the history, present, and past of the town and the former county of Gruyère.

In addition, the museum displays unique photographs from 1840-1850 by Joseph-Philibert de Prangey (1804-1892). These were made based on the Daguerre type (named after the French inventor and artist Louis Daguerre (1787-1851).

(Source and further information: Ville de Bulle)

The Monastery and its Garden

Impressions of Bulle