The charming town of Gruyeres surrounded by green alpine hills is one of the best places to visit in Switzerland. A visit to the Gruyeres chocolate factory and the Gruyeres cheese factory are the top things to do in Gruyeres. But on your visit to the home of one of the finest cheese in the world, a visit to the medieval castle of Gruyeres is something you should not miss.
Chateau de Gruyere
The majestic Gruyeres Castle served as the residence of the Dukes of Gruyeres in the 13th-century. The castle flourished to its period of glory when it was the summer residence of the families Bovy and Balland. It was during this time that some great painters decorated the castle walls with historical scenes and picturesque landscapes of the town. The Gruyeres castle was bought by the canton of Fribourg in 1849 who set up the museum and opened it to the public. The tour of the castle walks through 800 years of history of the castle, the architecture evolution and the time when the castle was a cultural center.
Gruyere Castle Opening Hours and Tickets
The castle is open all through the year.
April – October: 9 am to 6 pm
November – March: 10 am to 5 pm
The ticket counter is inside the castle premises. The entrance ticket includes access to the castle, the garden, the museum exhibitions and the multimedia show. You can also buy a combined ticket to the Cheese factory, Museum HR Giger and the Tibet Museum with the castle for discounted rates.
How to get to Gruyeres Castle?
Gruyeres is a two hours train journey from Geneva and Zurich and less than an hour from the Switzerland capital Bern. From the Gruyeres Train Station, you need to board a bus which drops you outside the Gruyeres Ville (Gruyeres Village). From here the castle entrance is some 10-15 minutes walk through the beautiful Gruyeres Town.
Our first stop of the day was the Gruyeres cheese factory (La Maison du Gruyere). Once we finished the tour we boarded a bus right across the street from the factory to the town of Gruyeres. The Gruyeres town looks like taken out of a fairytale story. The town has several restaurants and houses on both sides of the wide cobblestone street which leads to the castle. The windows and the doors are decorated with bright colored flowers and most interestingly unique designs of cranes which represents the town of Gruyeres (Grue means crane).
Gruyeres Castle Tour
We walked uphill into the castle premises where you buy the tickets. Right behind the ticket counter, a flight of stairs leads to the Multimedia Room.
The multimedia room offers shows on the history of the castle. Keep note of the Multimedia show timings and plan the castle tour accordingly. You wouldn’t want to miss the show start time by minutes or even don’t want to waste time waiting for the next show to start.
We bought the tickets and walked into the courtyard through the esplanade which we decided to explore later. Both sides of the gate had these huge bronze shields of Mars and Venus. The most beautiful part of the courtyard was the corridors on the upper level overflowing with colorful flowers.
The tour starts on the right side as you enter. Do not miss the huge painting on the wall which depicts the hunting scene with the count riding his horse and Belle Luce as the shepherdess.
The first room we came across on the tour was a kitchen which had a fireplace with pot-hangers and cooking pots with ovens.
Next was the room on the upper floor which displayed capes and armories in glass showcases. The corridor out from the room displayed several wooden chests, and paintings. The most quirky part of the exhibit was a severed hand displayed in a glass case which is believed to be of an Egyptian Mummy.
The Bailiffs’ Room with lavish furnishings is believed to be used as the study room. The walls bear remarkable paintings of foliage painted in the late 17th-century. There is a statue of St. Sebastian to remember the devastation caused by the 17th-century plague.
Next was the Corot’s Room, named after the famous French painter Camille Corot who painted some of the 18th-century panels in the room with medallion landscapes. The paintings decorated with allegorical females, jesters, flower and fruit garlands were exceptional. There is also a bust of Sissi the Empress of Austria in the room.
The Room of the Counts dedicated to the last counts of Gruyeres was decorated with remarkable Flemish tapestries from early 16th centuries. The tapestries representing subjects depicting the Old Testament are said to be bought by the Bovy brothers. The room also features a 15th-century canopy bed and gothic dressers.
The Room of the Beautiful Lucy had more tapestries. One was of Alexander’s victory and based on the cartoon by Charles Le Brun and the other of the scene when Ulysses meets Hector in front of the city of the Troy.
Gruyeres Castle Garden
We climbed up to the second floor which had a room full of paintings by contemporary artists.
The balcony of the room offers a spectacular view of the mountains and the Castle Garden. The garden was designed in French style by the Balland Family at end of 19th century. The garden is in its full bloom only in spring and summer.
Hunting Room was one of the intriguing rooms in the castle. The room was decorated with several antlers and animal skulls. The furniture in the room dated back to 16th and 18th centuries.
Gruyeres Castle Chapel
The castle chapel is located on the Esplanade outside the entrance gate leading to the courtyard. The chapel dedicated to St. John dates back to 13th-century. The chapel interior is decorated with stained glass windows, paintings of Christ in Glory and Twelve Apostles on the vaults and walls and 15th-century wooden sculptures.
The castle sits on a hill overlooking the lush green valleys and the medieval town of Gruyeres. The terrace in front of the castle chapel offers wonderful views of the town and the valleys below.
There is a walking path around the castle which starts parallel to the main entrance gate to castle grounds. The walk offers stunning views of the surrounding valleys, mountains and the pretty chalets dotting the town.
The castle overlooks the St. Theodule Church which is located in the valley below, you can have a glimpse of the church from the small terrace near the main entrance to the castle premises.
St.Theodul Church Gruyeres
The Roman Catholic Church dedicated to St. Theodule dates from mid 13th-century. The interior of the church has several chapels and remarkable stained-glass windows. There is a cemetery next to the church decorated with colorful flowers was a wonderful sight to behold.
Tips for your visit to the Gruyeres Castle
We recommended you visit the castle early when the castle opens for the castle gets pretty crowded later afternoon.
The Gruyeres Town is home to two unique museums, HR Giger Museum and the Tibet Museum. The HR Giger Museum houses an interesting collection of works of famous Swiss artist Hans Ruedi Giger. The Tibet museum exhibits over 300 fascinating collections of Buddhist sculptures, paintings, and religious items.
A trip to Gruyeres is incomplete without tasting some delicious Swiss Traditional Cheese Dishes – Fondue and Raclette. You can find them in most of the restaurants in the square that leads up to the castle.
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Many Thanks to La Gruyere Tourism for supporting our Gruyeres tour. All the museum tours were complimentary. As always, all opinions are our own.