Murten


Murten on Murtensee

Swiss defeat Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgendy, to maintain their independence from France

Banner promoting next year’s celebration of Swiss defeat of Charles the Bold in 1476 at the Battle of Murten

I love excursions to interesting places that have a history of restoration and preservation.  After an educational trip to Spiez, I wanted to see more of Swiss medieval history.

Murten was recommended, a town near the French border where there had been a famous battle in 1476 against the French.  I hopped a train in Bern to Murten just a few kilometers from Interlaken.

Murten is modern Swiss town which has done a marvelous job preserving the historic ‘aldstadt’ on a hill looking over Murtensee.  Across the lake were the Vully hillside vineyards bordering France.  In Murten, I heard more French spoken than Swiss German.

Rathausgasse leading into Murten aldstadt

Rathausgasse leading into Murten aldstadt

Murten castle, now administrative offices for the canton

Murten castle, now offices for the canton of Fribourg prefecture

Hauptgasse with banners commemorating 1476 victory against Charles the Bold

Hauptgasse with banners commemorating 1476 victory against Charles the Bold

Medieval Murten is a walled city, with towers, ramparts, cobblestone streets, arched gates, and moat preserved for tourists. Berntor was one of two entrances into the medieval town.

Bern gate into aldstadt

Berntor gate into aldstadt

Rooftops of Murten

Murten roof tops

Murten roof tops

I saw Murten from various viewpoints, strolling along the three long gasses (streets)  through the aldstadt, on the bluff overlooking Murtensee, and, my most favorite venue, from the ramparts and towers along the stone walls.

The rooftops of Murten were especially attractive, reddish tiles on slanted roofs, no doubt because of heavy snowfall during  Swiss winters.  It almost seemed that architects competed to design the most esthetically appealing rooftops.  What do you think?

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View from the ramparts 

After walking the Rathausgasse, I followed a path along the walls to a narrow staircase that led to towers and ramparts overlooking the town and countryside .  I climbed  steep and winding stairs, reaching a narrow walkway along the ramparts.   Every few feet, there were narrow openings to look over the countryside.

Wooden stairs leading to ramparts

Wooden stairs leading to ramparts

Narrow wooden walkway along Murten ramparts

Narrow wooden walkway along Murten ramparts

 Imagine in medieval days, sentries would stand guard at the ramparts to watch for possible invaders.  Centuries later, tourists can peer through narrow keyhole gaps in the  stone walls to admire the peaceful town of Murten and the lush landscape.

Keyhole view of catholic church from tower

Keyhole view of catholic church from tower

Descending wooden steps.  Watch your step and both hands on the railing!

Descending wooden steps. Watch your step and both hands on the railing!

Battle of 1476

Murten’s most famous event in history  was the Battle of Murten fought on June 22, 1476.  On that day, Swiss Confederates defeated Charles the Bold of Burgundy who was trying to consolidate his holdings that stretched from the North Sea to the Mediterranean. The biggest obstacle to Charles’ army was  Murten on the French border.

Today, memorials and plaques commemorate the Swiss victory over the French.  I was in Murten days after the annual celebration and there were still banners, wilting floral bouquets, barricades, and signs from the recent celebration.

A banner announced the next anniversary.  They even have a website with history of the battle and events planned for next years commemoration.

French, German, and Swiss churches

Switzerland was the crossroads during the Reformation and counter Reformation of the 16th & 17th centuries.  Today, that religious struggle is evident in the presence of Swiss catholic, German protestant, and French catholic churches in Murten.

German Lutheran church in Murten

German Lutheran church in Murten

French catholic church on bluff overlooking Murtensee

French catholic church on bluff overlooking Murtensee

Swiss catholic church from ramparts

Swiss catholic church from ramparts

Murten’s Moat

Like most medieval castles, a moat around Murten provided a line of defense against invaders.  A small section of that moat has been preserved.

Preserved moat along Murten wall and tower

Preserved moat along Murten wall and tower

The moat around Murten’s walled ‘aldstadt’ had been filled in over the centuries and replaced with small gardens, possibly given out by the city.  Plots were planted in flowers, vegetables, fruit trees, grape vines, and lawns.

Moat turned into community gardens

Moat turned into community gardens

Community gardens replace moat

Community gardens replace moat

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Crawling up from the lush area were vines that encircled tower ramparts.  Modern day invaders in a way, but pleasant to see, like something you’d see in a book cover of a medieval fantasy novel.

A narrow asphalt path around the moat allowed one to peak between shrubs and fences to see the gardens.  Anyone in Murten who has a plot seemed to put energy into their plot of medieval history.  Wouldn’t you if you had a garden along the ramparts of a centuries old castle?

Favorite view

My fondest memories of Murten were views from the ramparts looking over the town, the countryside, lake, and the colorful rooftops.

Favorite memory of Murten

Favorite memory of Murten

* * * *

Next:  Rhine Falls

In addition to writing this travel blog, I write international thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels.

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2 responses to “Murten

  1. Greetings from Kai & Cordula from good old Germany! I love this post. It reminds me of a visit to Murten back in the 90ies with my then 4 year old daughter Roxana. We also walked the ramparts and enjoyed the view over the rooftops and the lake. Roxana’s comment to this was: “Look, what a harmony!”

    Like

    • Great to hear from you again, Kai, and thanks for your comments. I had a week in Switzerland before meeting my wife in
      Zurich. We had a day trip to visit Rhine Falls, my next blog.
      Spending the summer in Europe, hiring translator for “Thirteen Days,” meetings w/ my researcher, and also w/ DIGOS at Milano Questura for my next book. Starting a thriller series based in Milano, which means I have to come back every year.
      Best to Cordula and your lovely children. We have such fond memories of our time together in Menaggio . . . except for your accident.
      Ciao a dopo!

      Like

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