Fribourg: History & Tradition

Founded in 1157 by Duke Berthold IV of Zähringen, the town of Fribourg grew up on the site of the present-day Bourg district. Shielded from the outside world by the cliffs of the Sarine, its location was topographically and strategically perfect for its defence.  

The Canton of Fribourg was the first French-speaking canton to join the Swiss Confederacy in 1481.



FR history


Tradition – St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of the city of Fribourg. His feast is observed with great pomp throughout the Canton of Fribourg on the first weekend of December. At the end of the day, a procession wends its way through the city centre, starting at the Collège St-Michel and ending at the cathedral of St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas parades on a donkey, from which he greets the crowd. He is accompanied by bogeymen who distribute delicacies to children. At the end of the procession, the saint makes a speech containing satirical references to cantonal life and to the events of the past year. A crowd of nearly 30,000 people gathers each year to hear him speak and to watch the procession.



FR history


Culinary tradition

The "Bénichon"
The "Bénichon" is a traditional festival which dates back centuries. Nowadays it consists mainly of a gargantuan meal that can last up to six hours, but was originally a thanksgiving to the gods for the gifts of nature and for the year's harvests. Over the centuries, the religious ceremony disappeared, with only the popular gastronomic feast surviving.

Bénichon menu (11 KB) (only in French)

The menu has changed over the course of time and also varies according to region.


Tarte fribourgeoise à la choucroute

FR history

Print recipe (141 KB) (only in French)


Traditional products

  • Gruyère AOC
  • Vacherin AOC
  • Fondue
  • Crème double

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