Ste-Apolline bridge (Villars-sur-Glâne)
The pilgrim's crossing.
Records show that a chapel has stood right next to the bridge since 1147. This would indicate that the spot has long served as a crossing point over the River Glâne. There is documented evidence also of the existence of a bridge here since before 1243. The chapel in its present form dates back to 1566. For many years, it was thought that the pont de Sainte Apolline dated back to Roman times. While it was undoubtedly a popular crossing point back then, travellers hoping to cross the Glâne would first have had to navigate their way through a ford, downstream of the river. It is likely that the surviving tuff-stone humpback bridge, which was built in 1508-09, replaced one of many timber bridges that would have stood here. The bridge provided access, via the left bank, to Bulle, which has been an important town in the canton since the Middle Ages.
In 1757, the road from Fribourg to Bulle, which passed over the pont de Sainte Apolline, was abandoned due to its difficult terrain. The bridge and its cobblestone deck were restored in 1990-91.
For centuries, the pont de Sainte Apolline, which is now only open to pedestrians and cyclists, has been crossed by pilgrims making their way to Santiago de Compostela. It also features on many popular hiking trails.
The River Glâne is a tributary of the Sarine, eventually discharging into it on the border between Villars-sur-Glâne and the city of Fribourg. Before the Sarine reaches the pont de Zähringen, on which you are currently standing, it is joined by the Gérine (Marly) and the Gottéron (directly beside the pont de Berne)