13: Schwarzenburg to Fribourg

On the way to a beautiful medieval town




We divided the course into several sections to make it easier to see. For each section, the maps show the course, the slopes found on the course, and the state of the roads. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live.

For this stage, here is the link:


It is obviously not the case for all pilgrims to be comfortable with reading GPS and routes on a laptop, and there are still many places in France without an Internet connection. Therefore, you can find a book on Amazon that deals with this course.

If you only want to consult lodging of the stage, go directly to the bottom of the page.

Today, the route leaves the canton of Bern, which you crossed from side to side for the canton of Fribourg. But these two cantons have had their destiny linked for centuries, since the heroic era and of the Habsburg in Bern and the Zähringen in Fribourg. There are still some hints of it, in a canton that speaks two languages.

We are around the year 1200 and the region is part of Burgundy. So, the legend is created. Fribourg does not yet exist. Only one castle, that of the Dukes of Zähringen, is perched on the hill above the Sarine River. Charcoal workers, loggers and fishermen live in thatched cottages along a brush-covered river. Duke Berthold IV went hunting one day in the nearby forest and was surprised alone in the storm. Dressed in a simple way, without one being able to imagine in him a prince, he was lost alone, separated from his men, in the night under the storm. He spotted a flickering light. He went and knocked on the doorstep and the master of the house, a charcoal burner, offered him room and board. When he woke up, he found that his clothes were covered with soot on one side and floured on the other. Hell! The coalman had found nothing better to compose the stranger’s bed than to arrange two sacks of coal and cover them with a sack of flour. So, he swore to himself that it was necessary to build a city, to give freedoms to the charcoal burners and that the color of the flag would be that of the charcoal burner’s bed, black and white, which is still the flag of the canton today.

In the XIIIth century, the city passed into the hands of the Bernese Habsburg, then at the end of the XVth century under the rule of the Dukes of Savoy. After the battle of Morat, which saw the victory of the confederates and the Bernese over Charles the Bold, Fribourg asked to be admitted to the nascent Swiss confederation. It entered as the first semi-French canton in 1481. Then came the Reformation and its concert of incessant conflicts. The 13 Swiss cantons chose their side. But, in many regions, the cohabitation of the two confessions remained difficult most of the time. So, today you are crossing one of these microcosms between Fribourg Catholicism and Bern Protestantism. And here the situation is further complicated by language. This part of the canton of Fribourg speaks German and goes to mass.

Difficulty of the course: Today’s stage (+337 meters/-505 meters) has very reasonable slope variations. The slopes hardly exceed 10% inclination, except for the climb to the high plateau after passing the Sense River, and especially the flip flop on the Sarine River at often more than 25% slope in the city of Fribourg, in end of stage.


Today, the roads are still a little more numerous than the pathways:

  • Paved roads: 11.4 km
  • Dirt roads: 8.6 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use.

For “real slopes”, reread the mileage manual on the home page.


We have divided the route into several sections, to facilitate visibility. For each section, the maps give the route, the slopes found on the route and the state of Via Jacobi.

Section 1: Between countryside, cliffs and river, from the canton of Bern to the canton of Fribourg.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without difficulty, except for the descent on the Sense River.


In Schwarzenburg, it is not the tracks that are missing on the signposts near the station. But beyond Bodensee you are always walking on Via Jacobi 4.

Via Jacobi therefore leaves the borough near the station.
It starts on Bernstrasse, where beautiful old farms still remain. In Schwarzenburg, there is an astonishing mixture of farmhouses and patrician houses, within the center itself.
Near the Market Square, Via Jacobi leaves the axis. Fribourg is announced at almost 5 hours of walking.
A country road then heads towards Wart at the exit of the borough.
Between meadows and corn, the small paved road arrives at Wart. There is indeed a gradual change in the landscape. From here, corn, almost absent from the track in German-speaking Switzerland, becomes more and more visible.
Wart is a small hamlet with a vocation above all agricultural.

Here, it is very nice to remind the pilgrim that he is walking on the Camino de Santiago and that 1,700 kilometers separate him from Santiago.

Beyond the village, the road then descends in the direction of Torhalten.
It oscillates on a slope in the countryside.

The countryside is bucolic at will, with its farms scattered in the meadows.

Further down, Via Jacobi finds a pathway that descends into a valley in the undergrowth.
The valley is very steep with many streams of water flowing.
A pathway paved with stones, very steep and often slippery, descends under the steep cliffs of marl covered with moss in the basin of the Sense River.
A wide dirt road then heads through the hardwoods towards the river bed. The Sense River is not a very big river, but it is wild and there are plenty of stones.
Sometimes in clearings, often in undergrowth, the dirt road flattens along the river. Here it is a landscape similar to that previously found near the Schwarzwasser River. The river carved like a wild canyon in the marl cliffs. At the end of the dirt road, the pathway comes near a wooden bridge.
The route joins the cantonal road and crosses the Sense River on an old wooden bridge, the Sodachbrücke, a bridge built towards the end of the XIXth century, now pedestrianized, a new bridge crossing the river next door.

Here you leave the canton of Bern for the Germanic part of the canton of Fribourg.

Beyond the bridge, a small pathway runs along the Sodbach stream.
Then the pathway leaves the stream and slopes up towards the cantonal road. Just below a café restaurant is available.
After crossing the road, a pathway rises steeply in the undergrowth. There are many stones on the way. It is always hardwoods that are encountered, those of the Swiss forests where beeches abound, with few maples, ashes or oaks. Chestnut is rare in Switzerland.
It crosses the undergrowth to arrive in a clearing.
Higher up, the slope then softens on a dirt road that climbs towards Heitenried, sometimes running through meadows or undergrowth.

On the way a beautiful oratory stands at the edge of the way. The canton of Fribourg is a very Catholic canton.

Section 2: In the Fribourg countryside.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.


The pathway then gradually approaches Heitenreid before reaching the road at the entrance to the village.
The road then crosses the relatively recent part of the village.
Shortly after, Via Jacobi leaves running under the village.
The crosses reappear. Fribourg is a Catholic canton, which is not the case for a large part of German-speaking Switzerland, which is mostly Protestant.
Quickly, a grassy pathway looms in the countryside, along the hedges. Shortly after, it crosses the small stream of Lettiswilbach and heads towards a small undergrowth where hardwoods and spruces mingle.
Here, the slope is gentle on a stony pathway. At the exit of the undergrowth, Via Jacobi reaches Winterlingen hamlet and its few houses.
The pathway then undulates gently in the meadows, along small groves or isolated trees, especially spruces and large oaks.
It soon arrives on the heights of Niedermonten. Here, peasant life is omnipresent, with large meadows and black and white cows scattered everywhere you look. You like it or you don’t like it, it depends. But the pilgrims, for the most part, taste with delight the pleasures of the real countryside.

You see immediately when you arrive in the canton of Fribourg that the farms are often less opulent (but not all!) than in the canton of Bern and that the manure is often in front of the door of the domain.

A grassy pathway gently slopes down through the grass to find the tar. It joins the cantonal road in Niedermonten and its gigantic farms.
Far be it from us to devalue the canton of Fribourg, but we will say that there is perhaps a little less money than in the canton of Bern. Here a beautiful wooden cross marks the crossroads, and to make us lie an extraordinary old farm stands here, as you hardly meet any more.
Near another large and magnificent farm, Via Jacobi leaves the national road for a smaller road.

Section3 : Along the Taverna brook.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.


The small road heads into the countryside towards Sankt Antoni.
It crosses the village with its two churches, one Catholic, the other Protestant. The canton of Fribourg was for a long time attached to the Protestant canton of Bern.
The road crosses from one church to another a village with relatively modern buildings. But some retain a marked and remarkable ancestral character.

What more can we say about this little marvel that today serves as a guest house?

Via Jacobi leaves the village near the Catholic church.
At the exit of the village, a wide gravel road then descends to the bottom of a dale to reach the village of Weissenbach. Along the way, languid Simmental cows watch the pilgrim pass.
The road descends in the undergrowth on a very steep slope along the cliff. But the descent is not long to Weissenbach.
Here, Via Jacobi finds the tar again when it crosses the small stream of Wyssebach.
Shortly after, the small flattens along the stream until you find the cantonal road that descends from Sankt Antoni, whose Catholic church can be seen on the hill.

AAfter a short passage in the grass, Via Jacobi joins the cantonal road. Here, you are less than two hours walk to Fribourg.
Further afield, a pathway flattens to some isolated houses on the other side of the road.
This is also where the Wyssenbach, a very thin stream, arrives.
Not much thicker is the Taverna, a brook that you will follow for a good two kilometers, on a strip of land lost in the grass.
Along the way, a modest oratory is dedicated to Mary.
Nothing happens here except the melancholy that can arise from putting one step in front of the other when considering the grass of the meadows or the bushes of the stream.
At the end of the pathway, Via Jacobi crosses the Taverna brook again and joins the cantonal road which goes towards Tafers.

Section 4: Beautiful chapels before the return to the countryside.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: course without any difficulty.


From here to Tafers, the walker is not enthusiastic. You have to walk on the sidewalk in the middle of the bustle of the cantonal road, quite busy. Fortunately, the eye sometimes rests on beautiful farms or beautiful patrician residences.
Tafers (Tavel in French) is the capital of Sense, one of the districts of the canton of Fribourg. In this borough of 3,250 inhabitants, you will no doubt be answered in French in the shops, because the city is a stone’s throw from French-speaking Fribourg. But the official language is German, in Tafers.

The city conceals a magnificent church dedicated to St-Martin. Originally, the sanctuary was Romanesque. Then there were transformations and enlargements in the late Gothic period, and finally in the Baroque period. The current church is a late Baroque reconstruction from the XVIIth century. Two chapels are attached to the church.

One of the chapels is important for pilgrims to Compostela. The pilgrims’ staffs inside the chapel, which can be observed through a peephole, are there to testify to this. The other chapel is much soberer. The two chapels that are integrated into the cemetery are from the late Baroque period.
Although the borough contains mainly buildings of recent construction, some residences still belong to the heritage…

… including this extraordinary typical Fribourg house transformed into the Sense museum.

Via Jacobi leaves Tafers on the road to Düdingen, but soon a dirt road heads off into the countryside on the outskirts of Tafers.
You see here that Tafers is already part of greater Fribourg and that rental blocks have been built here.
Soon Via Jacobi leaves the dirt road.
It smoothens into the grass in the countryside, close to an industrial area.
Shortly after, behind a farm, iz heads into the meadows towards an undergrowth.
Further ahead, a pathway crosses a deciduous undergrowth, the wood of Lamprat. Here, as generally in the Swiss undergrowth, beech dominates. Among the hardwoods, there are always some maples and few oaks.
At the end of the wood, the pathway slopes up gently to Menziswil.

In this region, the farms are less opulent than in the canton of Bern, but are not devoid of charm.

A paved road leaves the amlet, runs in front of a small sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin, a building belonging to the Ursulines, a gift of two old maids, erected in the XVIIIth century.

The road extends quite a long way in the meadows, with rarely an isolated farm, in the nature or at the side of the road.
Here again, it’s countryside, real countryside.
At the height of the hamlet of Hinter Bruch, Via Jacobi slopes up a little in the corn. We had never seen so much maize beyond Bodensee! All this to tell you that Switzerland is not a country of cultures.

Section 5: On the way to the beautiful city of Fribourg.


General overview of the difficulties of the route: steeply sloping route in the Old Town of Fribourg.


Further afield, the pathway begins to descend towards the near suburbs of Fribourg.
Another little undergrowth, and the pathway arrives at the entrance to Villars-les-Joncs. The Germanic say Uebewil, “hamlet of yews”, because there were marshes here in the past.

A magnificent patrician house marks the entrance to Villars-les-Joncs. The house belongs to a very famous aristocratic family in Fribourg.

Further on, the road quickly joins the first houses of Fribourg.
It runs in front of a chapel, originally dating from the Middle Ages and dedicated to St Jacques, then rebuilt towards the end of the XVIIth century and then dedicated to the Virgin.
The road then descends towards the city and arrives at the Route de Berne. You are here in Fribourg Kessler to the north of the city.
From here, if you want to go to the city center, just follow the Bern road, then take the Zähringen bridge which leads to the center. The Zähringen Bridge (in reference to the family who founded the city in 1157), built in 1924 to replace a large suspension bridge, is now prohibited for motorized vehicles.

But you will miss a great marvel, the Lower Town of Fribourg, which the locals simply call The Lower. This is where the Camino de Santiago runs To get there, you must first slope down the Route St Barthélemy at the Kessler crossroads…

… then turn left into Rue François Arsent before following Chemin de la Tour Rouge (Red Tower).

The Red Tower dates from the middle of the XIIIth century. It is the oldest and most monumental of the fortified towers of Fribourg. Until 1848, it served as a prison and a place of execution.

The city, founded in 1157, was defended by a castle and an enclosure which have now largely disappeared. Then, the city extended in the loop of the Sarine River. The city was endowed with an important system of defenses as it developed. The enclosure, completed in the XVth century, was maintained and transformed until the end of the XVIIth century. In the XIXth century, it was demolished to facilitate the extension of the city. However, with its 2 km of walls flanked by 14 towers, Fribourg currently retains the largest set of medieval fortifications in Switzerland. The ramparts are particularly well preserved in the loop of the Sarine. We will come back tomorrow to review some of these marvels.

The route descends in substantial zigzags the Chemin de la Tour Rouge. The view over the city and the walls is exceptional.

Think of this owner who has his barbecue planted in the city! The Zähringen Bridge is over-present.
The route runs above the Tour des Chats, built in the second half of the VXIth century, embedded in the ramparts and plunging into the gorges of the Sarine. Then it slopes down again steeply.
It even runs through the molasse of the cliff and the rampart.
It then reaches Rue des Forgerons, at the entrance to the Lower Town. It enters through the Porte de Berne, dating from the XIIIth century, of which there remain some remnants of the drawbridge.
The Lower Town is made up of the districts of Bourg (in fact that of the cathedral), Auge and Neuveville between which winds the Sarine River and its small wooden and stone bridges. Rue des Forgerons, on the other side of the Sarine, was not incorporated until the middle of the XIIIth century. All the café-restaurants here have a long history and a notorious reputation. Similarly, the rivalries between the various districts, between the dog eaters and the others have made the history of the city over the centuries until today when the quarrels have died down and The Lower is not more than a district of Fribourg.

At the end of the Rue des Forgerons, you’ll arrive at the edge of the Sarine River. From there, other tourist tracks go to the large Gottéron bridge, to the Bourguillon, Dürrenbühl or Gottéron towers. Via Jacobi does not go there. But for the curious, you can go back tomorrow.

The route crosses just below the Sarine River on the Pont de Berne (Bern Bridge). This wooden bridge is incredibly charming.
You can pop in to the famous Auberge de l’Ange which dips its feet in the river or just peek at the molasses opposite.
Then, the route heads towards the Place du Petit Saint-Jean.
Shortly after, it leaves the Auge district to slope up towards the Bourg district, towards the cathedral, up Rue de la Samaritaine.
At the top of Rue de la Samaritaine, you will enjoy the tremendous slope of the Stalden Street to the Grand Rue.
Then, the slope calms down and the route goes up the Grand Rue and its arcades to reach the height of the cathedral.

St Nicolas Cathedral, built between 1280 and 1490 is a Gothic jewel, with magnificent stained-glass windows. Climb the 368 steps of the tower, which was never completed, for lack of money according to legend, to enjoy an exceptional view of the city.

Adjoining the cathedral, the famous Rue des Epouses (spouses) here slopes down to the Grand Rue.

Here you come to the new part of town. Fribourg is not a gigantic city. It has around 38,000 inhabitants, but greater Fribourg with its suburban towns has more than 80,000 inhabitants.

In front of the cathedral, there is a large crossroads with Place des Ormeaux and the statue of Grégoire Girard, Franciscan and local pedagogue. A little further on, Via Jacobi arrives at Town Hall Square.

To reach the station, follow Rue de Lausanne and its shops, Place Python, and finally Avenue de la Gare.

Lodging on Via Jacobi

Youth hostel, breakfast Hauptstrasse 57 079 787 10 78/079 297 06 12
Guestroom, breakfast Theo Meyer, Hauptstrasse 44 026 495 17 17
Hotel, dinner, breakfast Hotel Restaurant Sternen, Hauptstrasse 57 026 495 11 16
St. Antoni
Gîte, breakfast Andreas Schwaller, Cheerstrasse 3 026 495 11 15
Youth hostel, breakfast Burgbühl 50 026 495 11 73
Guestroom, dinner, breakfast Andreas Käser, Antoniusweg 24 026 494 10 32/079 869 15 53
Guestroom, breakfast Ruth Pauchard, Juchweg 5 026 494 10 85
Guestroom, breakfast Ulrike Fiscer, Allmendstrasse 15 026 494 13 62
Hotel***, dinner, breakfast Hotel Taverna, Freiburgstrasse 2 026 494 73 73
Accueil chrétien, breakfast Notre Dame de la Maigrauge, Chemin de l’Abbaye 2 026 309 21 10
Accueil chrétien, dinner, peti déj. Monastère de Montorge, Chemin de Lorette 10 026 322 35 36
Accueil chrétien Couvent des Cordeliers, Rue de Morat 6 026 345 11 60
Accueil jacquaire Andrea Schuppisser, Rue de la Palme 2 079 792 95 52
Youth hostel Rue de l’Hôpital 2 026 323 19 16
Accueil étudiant Convict Salesanium, Avenue du Moléson 21 0216 351 11 11
Guestroom, cuisine Nelly Kuster, Rue des Forgerons 17 026 322 42 35
Guestroom, breakfast R. Meyer Stanek, Rue Grimaux 2 026 322 00 88/076 494 56 80
Guestroom, breakfast Rosa Pievy, Route de la Gruyère 16 079 777 92 79
Guestroom, breakfast Mir. Zappelli, Route de la Gruyère 19 026 424 02 74/076 494 56 80
Guestroom, breakfast Béatrice Cudry, Route de la Sarine 36 026 322 45 70
Guestroom, breakfast B&B Habegger, Heiteraweg 80 026 481 17 71
Hotel**, breakfast Hotel du Faucon, Rue de Lausanne 76 026 321 37 90
Hotel**, breakfast Hotel Hine Adon, Rue Pierre Aeby 11 026 322 37 77
Hotel****, breakfast Hotel de la Rose, Rue de Morat 1 026 351 01 01
Hotel****, breakfast Hotel Aux Remparts, Chemin Montrevers 1 026 347 56 56
Hotel**, dinner, breakfast Hotel Elite, Rue du Criblet 7 026 350 33 60
Hotel***, dinner, breakfast Hotel Alpha, Rue du Simplon 13 026 322 72 72
There is no difficulty of finding accommodation on this stage. Book anyway for security.
Feel free to add comments. This is often how you move up the Google hierarchy, and how more pilgrims will have access to the site.


Next stage: Stage 14: From Fribourg to Visit of Old Town Fribourg

Back to the menu
Back to Top