The oldest parts of Alva Church are the choir and the apse, dating from the early 13th century. To this the nave was added during the late part of the same century. Construction of the broad tower started about a hundred years later but was never finished; hence the somewhat squat appearance of the church today. It seems in fact that construction of the church came to a rapid end: apart from the half-finished tower, the main southern portal also seems to have been finished in a haphazard, chaotic way.
The choir portal is Romanesque in style and carried some sculpted reliefs, possibly executed by the locally active Master Sigraf. The likewise Romanesque northern portal of the church is also decorated with sculptures.
Inside, the church displays a set of frescos carried out at the end of the Middle Ages, probably just before the reformation and possibly by the same artist who decorated Lau Church. Among the furnishings, the dominating triumphal cross, dating from the middle of the 13th century, and a partly preserved baptismal font, executed by the Romanesque master carver Hegvald sometime during the end of the 12th century, are especially notable. The pulpit dates from 1740 and the unusually decorated altarpiece from 1653. The church was renovated in 1953-54.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.