The History of the Poya Area

Before the word “Poya” designated the annual ascent of cows to Alpine pastures, this word belonging to the Fribourg dialect meant an incline. A most appropriate term for this plot of land on the outskirts of Fribourg as you head to Morat, since you need to climb quite a steep slope to reach it!

Before sketching out together the present and future of La Poya, let us honour the area’s rich history.

The Distant Past – a Place of Transit
La Poya has long been a busy place of transit, used by the Bernese and Savoyard armies that were wreaking havoc on the city’s surroundings from the 12th to the 15th century, as well as the merchants on their way to sell their products at the Fribourg markets.

History tells of how the fisherwomen used to wash their catch in the last stream before the town, giving it its name: Lavapesson, meaning “fish wash”.

The railway built in 1862 created an important divide, limiting the area of La Poya to a few cultivated fields, while the town continued to expand towards the west.

The Past – La Poya Becomes Barracks
Shortly after the Second World War, the Canton of Fribourg built the Poya Barracks (“Caserne de la Poya”) to meet the Swiss Army’s growing infrastructure needs. It chose that site on the east of the town of Fribourg, more suitable than the location of the old “Caserne de la Planche” in Basse-Ville.

The first barracks was built to provide accommodation for the soldiers, with an adjoining pavilion for officers. Two garages and a mechanical workshop, with traditionally shaped buildings and gable roofs, were set out in a horse-shoe shape around an inner courtyard.

Additions and Adaptations
As the years went by, La Poya was adapted to the army’s needs, with the building of a second barracks (1958) and a multiple-use hall (1970). The whole site was maintained and modernised during two series of refurbishments, between 1984 and 1991, and a last building – the command centre – was added in 1991.

The Poya Barracks, an army training and command centre, has shaped the Swiss military history over the decades, bearing witness to key moments of our national defence.

What About the Long-Term Future? It’s All to be Created!
After more than 70 years of dedicated and distinguished service of the Caserne de la Poya (Poya Barracks), the army returned the keys of the site to Canton Fribourg in 2023. From now on, it’s up to us all to invent the future of this place of military history!

Subscribe to the newsletter

Receive all the news about the future of La Poya.