Surpierre castle was a bailiff's castle in the Canton of Fribourg. In the 12th century there was a fort at Surpetra, though whether that was at the current castle site or another nearby location is unknown. The fief of Surpierre was owned by a noble family of the same name from 1142 until 1233. In the 13th century the de Cossonay family owned Surpierre and a number of surrounding villages. In the late 13th century a small castle was built on the site of the current one. A few elements of this castle were incorporated into the modern castle, including a square tower and the pointed arch windows in the chapel. By 1344 there was a small fortified village on the hill by the castle. During the 14th and 15th centuries the castle passed through a number of different owners. In 1476 and again in 1539 the castle was severely damaged in fires.

In 1536 the cantons of Bern, Fribourg and Valais invaded Vaud and defeated the Savoyard forces. On 21 February 1536 Surpierre was captured by Bern, who then gave it to Fribourg on 1 March, creating a small exclave. Under Fribourg's rule, a bailiff was appointed and granted authority over the land around Surpierre. The castle was rebuilt into a home for the Fribourg bailiff. In 1544 the castle was damaged in a fire, and the Fribourg authorities decided to rebuild it from its medieval design into an imposing government center and a comfortable home for the bailiff. Several additional buildings were added to the complex and an ornate main gate was added. A drawbridge was added over the dry moat and gardens were built around the castle. Over the following centuries, the Fribourg appointed bailiffs ruled over the exclave.

In 1848 the little Fribourg exclave became part of the Broye District and the district purchased the castle. Two years later, in 1850, it was acquired by the Marseille merchant Victor-Henri Leenhart-Imer. After passing through several owners, in 1951 Max Bürki bought it from the Delpech family.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Switzerland

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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

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Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

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The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.