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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Murten, Switzerland

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

Happy Birthday, Michael!!!!

I asked Michael where I should go for his birthday and he suggested Murten for fish.

It was overcast when I left Interlaken, but the sky cleared once I passed Bern.

Murten's name derives from the Celtic word moriduno, meaning "lakeside fortress". It was first mentioned in 515 as a defensive place called "Muratum". In 1013, the area was fortified by King Rudolph III of Burgundy. The fortifications were attacked and occupied by Odo II of Blois-Champagne in 1032 during the conflict after Rudolph's death. Odo only held Murten briefly before Emperor Conrad II besieged and destroyed the castle. In 1079, Emperor Henry IV granted Muratum and other properties to the Bishop of Lausanne.

Murten was founded by Duke Berchtold I of Zähringenor Landri de Durnes, the Bishop of Lausanne in either 1159 or during the 1170s or 1180s next to the fortress. Murten was first mentioned as a city in 1238. After his death the German emperor Frederic II recognized Murten as a "Free Imperial Town". At that time, the emperor himself lived in the south of Italy and a small town north of the Alps was not his concern. It did not last long – in 1255, Murten fell under the protection of Count Peter of Savoy. When Philip I of Savoy refused to give Morat to him, King Rudolph of Habsburg seized it as a royal estate. After Rudolf's death, Amadeus V of Savoy, bought the city again in 1291, but lost it to King Albert I of Germany again. The House of Savoy bought the city and surrounding lands again in 1310 for 4,000 marks of silver. This time the city remained under Savoy control. During this time, Murten began to develop alliances and ties with the surrounding Swiss cities. In 1245, they created a treaty with Fribourg, followed in 1335 with Bern.

A fire in 1416 led to rebuilding in stone.

On June 22, 1476, Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, laid siege to the place in an action known as the Battle of Morat. The town hung on for 13 days but finally was saved by the Bernese army. The enemy's army was destroyed completely — some 10,000 Burgundians were killed. Since then, Murten celebrates the victory every year on June 22.

From 1484 on, and for 300 years, Murten was ruled by the two cantons — Bern and Fribourg. In 1530, under pressure from Bern, Murten adopted the Protestant Reformation, after the preacher Guillaume Farel began to preach the new faith. Murten's Protestant faith often brought the city into conflicts with the more conservative, Catholic Fribourg.

During the second half of the 17th century, the city grew wealthy on trade over the road from Bern to Vaud and along the Broye River to Yverdon. Most of the houses in the city were rebuilt with this wealth.

Although Bern and Fribourg had already granted Murten permission in 1584 to form guilds, the coopers, carpenters, locksmiths and cabinet makers first formed their guilds in 1731. In the late 17th century a brickyard and a brewery were built outside of town.

Following the 1798 French invasion, under the Helvetic Republic, Murten was part of the Canton of Sarine and Broye. When the Republic collapsed, the Act of Mediation in 1803 gave the town to the canton of Fribourg.

Industrialization began in Murten in the early 1850s when Etienne-Ovide Domon founded a watch factory, which was later moved to Montelier. The Petitpierre family operated an absinthe distillery between 1831–1901 and Oskar Roggen ran a winery from 1888-1913. Since 1855, Murten has had its own newspaper, the "Murtenbieter". In the 20th Century other industries settled in Murten; especially in the field of precision engineering, electronics and food. In 1973, the Swiss Federal Railways bought Löwenberg Castle and lands from the family de Rougemont, to establish a training center.

In 1856, a plan to run the Lausanne-Bern railway line through Morat was shelved and the line was rerouted through Fribourg. The loss of revenue from transportation affected Murten for almost twenty years. This changed in 1875-76 with the construction of the Palézieux-Murten-Lyss railway line. This first line was followed in 1898 with the Fribourg-Murten line and in 1903 with the Murten-Ins line. Steamship service between Murten and Neuchâtel began in 1835. The Bon Vouloir Hospital, opened in 1867 in Meyriez and by the 1920s it became the district hospital. The tourism industry, began with the celebration of the 400th anniversary of the Battle of Morat in 1876.

The small medieval town lies in the Swiss "Midlands" on the edge of the Great Marsh, on a gentle hill 450 meters (1,480 ft) above sea level and on the shore of Lake Morat (or the Murtensee in German). Numerous attractions from a significant past have been well preserved here, such as the castle, the ring wall, the street scene and the arcades. Lake Morat is a smaller lake located in between Lake Biel and the lake Neuchâtel.

I climbed the staircase and walked the ramparts surrounding the town.

There always is someone whom will not conform. They need to stand out from the other chimneys.

This gate is at one end of the street.

Cannon balls can still be found in the walls near the main gate.

This is the main street.

The police station is at the other end.

Some of the walls surrounding the town.

They were setting up for a concert in the French Church which was built in the late Gothic style in 1481, to replace the earlier chapel dedicated to St. Catherine. A memorial plaque commemorates the reformer, William Farel.

The catholic church was built by Adolphe Fraisse in 1886-1887. It is in Neo-Gothic style. The church tower was added in 1925-1926. The modern stained glass windows installed in 1984 are by Yvan Moscatelli.

Of course, I lit more candles.

If Michael were with me we would have shared a slice of the famous Nidelkuchen. It is very rich and sweet.

The Nidelkuchen is a cream cake the conception of which is totally unique. This pastry is produced in various bakeries in Murten.

The distinctive feature of the Nidelkuchen is that at least five thin coats of cream are added to a light raised pastry base. The first three coats are lightly acidulated and sweetened and are added during the cooking. These form a fine coat of caramel, which softens when the last two coats of Gruyere double cream are added. This is a clever mixture that makes this tart a creamy delight that melts in the mouth.

The fruit tarts looked delicious.

I celebrated Michael's birthday at Anatolia's, one of our all time favorite restaurants. We highly recommend this restaurant.

I started with the salad with pomegranate dressing and seeds.

The bread was hot out of the oven. It was wonderful to clean up the dressing and the lemon sauce with the bread.

Fresh caught perch from the lake. It came with yellow boiled potatoes, a tomato and a lemon sauce. Delicious! Yummy! Fantastic!

I was too full for dessert but not for a couple chocolate hearts.

Many people in town today. A large group was enjoying lunch outside overlooking the lake.

The adult version of an Advent calendar.

Today was the day for the Seeland triathlon in town with more than 900 registrations. There will be around 120 starting places for all categories in Murten. There is also a separation in the student category. The student girls start at 12:00 and the students boys leave at 12:30.

I'm not sure what it means but these are the categories.

Experience Short 0.5 - 26 - 5 km Competition Olympic 1.5 - 44 - 10 km Competition Medium 1.9 - 83 - 20 km
NEW: Students 10-13 years: 200m - 3.6km - 1.05km

It was such a lovely day, I decided to take the boat from Murten to Neuchâtel.

Across the lake from Murten is Vully. The south side of Mount Vully is covered by vineyards and the north side by woods.

Drive your ATV by the water to do a little fishing.

Perfect day for sailing

Some 1,097,000 acres or about 11% of the country's total land area, is under seasonal or permanent crops.

There are greenhouses everywhere.

This is asparagus gone to seed.

More hothouses growing tomatoes and beans. Sugar beets in the forefront. They were also growing red and green lettuce, leeks, onions, carrots, etc.

Once I was in Neuchâtel I knew I should not have gotten off and continued onto Biel. I remembered too late that the train station is almost at the top of the hill. Well, I did get to walk by the beautiful Hôtel Du Peyrou.

Spent a wonderful day in the French section of Switzerland. Bonsoir from Sunny Days.

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