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View of Castelgrande's Vineyard in Bellinzona

View of Castelgrande's Vineyard in Bellinzona


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Wonderful view of the city

the small hike up to here is well worth it, it gives a wonderful view of the city and especially as we were lucky with sunshine and blue skies.
We didn't try the restaurant up there, although the menu looked very inviting.
And a tip for the ladies: avoid high heels, sneakers or tennis shoes are far better, the cobblestone in the Castello is not easy to walk on in heels!

Rarely do you get a chance to explore at leisure such a rambling medieval castle - recently renovated - perched on a rock in the middle of town like an eagle's aerie. You can take a good look at the old buildings and walk around the interior courtyard. There's also a museum, which nis not always open and for which you pay an admission fee. The castle can be reached withina few minutes from the center of the small town. This castle used to be the centerpiece of fortifications that stretched across the valley and thus controlled it. In a country very rich in medieval fortification structures this casrtle is certainly one of the nicest and most accessible, along with its 'brother' castello a bit more of a climb up along the steep eastern barrier of the valley. Needless to say that the view from this landmark up and down the valley is breath-taking.

On a trip to Zurich, this was our fist outing from the city. We went to the train station and bought our Swiss 1/2 off pass and got a free pass for our son who is 11. We took a very comfortable Italian train down to Bellinzona, which was a 2.5 hour ride from Zurich. I wanted us to go specifically because my son was pretty bored here in Zurich and my wife and I wanted him to have a good experience on his first trip to Europe. The Castelgrande in Bellinzona did not disappoint. It is a very large castle, with many open, grassy areas and beautiful vistas from many points on the grounds. We climbed the stairs to the top of the white tower which gives you many vantage points of the whole city. You can see why the castle was built here, you can see the whole valley from many places in the castel. It is very well kept and clean, and best of all it's free! We didn't hit the museum because I think it was closed and plus my son was having so much fun running around pretending he was a knight . fending off imaginary foes. There were many other kids there in groups and it was fun to hear them speaking either Italian or German (mostly Italian though as Bellinzona is on the Italian side of the Alps). I would say if you have kids and are in the area, you should definitely see this castle. Especially if you are from the USA, where we don't have medieval castles =)

Castelgrande is the largest and most interesting castle of the three situated in Bellinzona, in Switzerland´s Ticino canton. If you are driving from Central Europe down to Italy, it is worthwhile to visit at least this castle, a well preserved Unesco World Heritage site.

Castelgrande is the lowest of the three castles and has museum with permanent and temporary displays. When we visited the castle there was an exhibtion of Otzi, the Italian/Austrian Ice Man.

We also hiked up to the second largest castle, Montebello. You can explore most of the towers and walls of both castles.

We did not go to the highest one, and I believe few people do.

You can have something to eat either in Castelgrande or in the city, that also has some buildings with interesting old architecture.


Good object to learn about Bellinzona's history

we have been years ago at Bellinzona's Castel Grande. It has been organised by the school and it was really interesting to follow the guide.
Now, we went to see it again without guide. Also very interesting.

Amaizing view of the three castels of Bellinzona. Unfortunatelly we could only visit the lower castle Castelgrande. A whole day can be spent here.

Castelgrande is more like a fort, but it’s a place rich in history as it also uncovered archaeological findings which take the visitor back in time. This is how we felt walking along the stone walls of Castelgrande, up to the central area, looking through holes in the walls at two more castles (forts) further up the hills. It’s worth spending a bit of time here to explore and walk along other walls that overlook some vineyards and the surrounding town. To get inside there are quite a lot of steps or take the lift. At the bottom, there’s a supermarket to stock up on supplies or rest by having a coffee and something to eat.

We arrived the small city almost noon. The place is easy to get up since there is elevator there. Because its out of season , the museum and restaurant were both closed, it was sunny day and it is beautiful view of the area as well as a kept castle, recomended.

This one is the easiest to reach, as it's located directly in the city centre, only a short walk up the hill from one of the streets. Or take a lift, it's also an option. There's an entertaining museum inside with some temporary exhibits and art installation and a short movie. The grounds are nice and well-maintained.


Contents

The toponym is first attested in 590 in Latin as Belitio or Bilitio (in the accusative, Bilitionem), by Gregory of Tours. [6] The name is Lepontic in origin, possibly from belitio ("juniper") or belitione ("juniper bushes"). [7]

During the medieval period, the name is found as Berinzona (721, 762, 803, 1002), Birrinzona (1004), Birizona (1168), Beliciona (901, 977) and Belinzona (1055). [8] The German name of the town is Bellenz. A local folk etymology derives the name Bellinzona from zona bellica "war zone", making a connection to the Italian Wars.

The blazon of the municipal coat of arms is an erect serpent in silver on a red field. The fabulous animal is called in Italian "Biscione". This animal, which can also be found on the arms of the Alfa Romeo car company, is linked with the Visconti family, who were feudal lords of Bellinzona in the 14th and 15th centuries. [9]

Pre-History and Roman era Edit

Bellinzona has always occupied an important geographic location in the Alps. To the south, the Po Valley is accessible by a lowland route down the valley of the river Ticino and by Lake Maggiore. To the north, the valley of the Ticino leads to the high alpine passes of Nufenen, St. Gotthard, Lukmanier and San Bernardino. Although now little used, the San Jorio Pass to the east was also important in Bellinzona's past. [10]

While the region has been occupied since the early Neolithic age [10] [11] it wasn't until the late 1st century BC that a fort was built in the area during the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus. While the fort fell into disrepair in the following centuries, it was rebuilt and greatly expanded in the 4th century AD. During the reign of Diocletian and Constantin a chain of castles and watchtowers were built to protect northern Italy from invasion. Bellinzona's location was recognized as a key point in the defenses and a large castle was built to protect the walls. The town that grew up around the fortifications was known as Bilitio.

Following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire the successor states, which included the Ostrogoths around 500 AD, the eastern Byzantine Empire towards the middle of the 6th century, and the Longobards from 568/70, all took control of Bellinzona and used the castle to assert control of the surrounding passes. Under the Longobards, Bellinzona became the site of a permanent garrison to protect the region from raids by the neighboring Frankish and Alemannic tribes. [12] From Bellinzona the Longobards controlled the traffic on the important trade route from Varese over Ponte Tresa, the Monte Ceneri Pass, Biasca and finally over the Lukmanier Pass into Chur. Some researchers believe that Bellinzona may have been the capital of a county that included most of the valleys in Ticino. [12]

Early Middle Ages Edit

At around 774 the Frankish Kingdom (that would become the Carolingian Empire) gained control of the Ticino valley including Bellinzona.

About two centuries later the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III, seeking to restore the power of glory of ancient Rome and expand into Italy, opened the Lukmanier and St. Bernard passes. Control of Bellinzona was a key part of this expansion. The town was taken from Milan and given as a gift to the Bishop of Como, who supported the Ottonian dynasty. In 1002, following the death of Otto III, Marquis Arduino of Ivrea declared himself King of Italy and ratified the bishop's ownership of the Castelgrande and the town. Two years later, after Arduino had been defeated by Henry II the King of Germany, Henry II's man Enrico II reratified the gift of the Castlegrande on the Bishop of Como. [13] The town is mentioned in medieval sources in 1218 as Bilizione.

Conflicts between the Pope and the Emperor Edit

During the Investiture Controversy of the late 11th century the town of Bellinzona with its castle came under the control of the Hohenstaufens of Swabia. However, in 1180, Frederick I (Barbarossa) placed the town under the jurisdiction of the town of Como. [13] In the following years Como tended to support the Pope in his conflicts with the Holy Roman Emperor. However, in 1239, Como sided with the Emperor Frederick II who quickly moved forces into Bellinzona and strengthened the Castelgrande. In 1242 Milan sent Guelph (or pro-papacy) forces under the command of Simone di Orello to take Bellinzona. [13] The town and castle were taken which weakened the Emperor south of the Alps. However the town was back under the jurisdiction of Como in 1249. [12] Conflicts in northern Italy continued, the Castelgrande was besieged several times in 1284, 1292 and 1303. During this time the Rusca family in Como, a Ghibelline or pro-Imperial family, fought the growing power of Milan under the pro-papacy House of Visconti with limited success. Around the end of the 13th century the Rusca family built another castle, Montebello, in Bellinzona, which they controlled. This was fortunate because by 1335 the Rusca family had been driven out of Como and had to retreat to Bellinzona. Five years later, in 1340, Milan besieged Bellinzona. Following a lengthy siege, the town fell to Milan but the Ruscas were allowed to keep Montebello. [13] Pro-papacy Milan would dominate Bellinzona for the next one and a half centuries, though the pro-Imperial Rusca would also occupy part of the town.

Expansion of Bellinzona under Milan Edit

Under the control of the Visconti, trade flourished and Bellinzona grew. When an alternative route over the Alps, the Schöllenen bridge opened, traffic in the St. Gotthard increased to the highest levels ever. [14] During the second half of the 14th century a long wall, the Murata, was built across the Tessin valley, allowing Milan to protect and tax the trade route over the St. Gotthard Pass. [12] While the town was controlled by Milan through the Visconti after 1340, the Visconti did not have a formal title and feudal rights until 1396 when they were granted by King Wenceslaus. However, the orderly growth of Bellinzona was threatened in 1402 when Duke Gian Galeazzo Visconti died. In 1403 Bellinzona came under the control of Alberto di Sacco of Val Mesolcina, who held it until 1419 before it was taken over by Uri and Obwalden, which expanded into the Leventina Valley. Milan attacked the town three years later in 1422 after an offer to buy the town was rejected by the Swiss Confederation. The troops from Uri and Obwalden were quickly driven from the town and later defeated at the Battle of Arbedo on 30 June 1422. This defeat discouraged the expansionist intentions of Uri and its allies towards Lake Maggiore for a time.

During the period of unrest following Gian Galeazzo Visconti's death, a tower which would become the nucleus of the third castle, Sasso Corbaro, was built outside the town.

While the border between Uri and Milan was fixed in the peace treaty of 1426, in 1439 Uri invaded again. While they were unable to take Bellinzona, the victories of the Swiss troops led to Milan granting all of the Leventina Valley to Pollegio to Uri in 1441. Following the death of Duke Filippo Maria Visconti in 1447, Bellinzona was in the middle of the succession crisis between Franchino Rusca of Locarno and Heinrich of Val Mesolcina, who were allied with Uri and the Ambrosian Republic in Milan. The war following the succession crisis lasted nearly three years until Francesco I Sforza seized power in Milan. Bellinzona quickly accepted the new Sforza dynasty and the peace and stability that followed. [12]

The peace was broken again in 1478 when the Swiss once again attacked Bellinzona unsuccessfully. However Swiss pride was restored by the Battle of Giornico which followed, where a force of 600 Swiss soldiers defeated 10,000 Milanese troops. Following the attack, Milan built the Sasso Corbaro either on the site of a tower which had been built nearly a century before. [12] The other two castles were strengthened and the Murata wall across the valley was rebuilt. Much of the modern castles and fortifications date from this period of construction in the late 15th century.

An associate of the Swiss Confederation Edit

In 1499 nearly one and a half centuries of Milanese rule ended with the invasion of Milan by Louis XII of France. He captured Bellinzona and fearing an attack by the Swiss, fortified the Castelgrande with 1000 troops. [15] Throughout the winter of 1499/1500 unrest in Bellinzona grew, until January when an armed revolt of the citizens of Bellinzona drove the French troops from the town. Following the capture and execution of Ludovico Sforza in April 1500 and seeking protection from France, Bellinzona joined the Swiss Confederation on 14 April 1500, as a condominium under the joint administration of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden. Following the Napoleonic invasion of Switzerland in 1798, Bellinzona was the capital of the canton of Bellinzona within the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803).

Bellinzona since 1803 Edit

Following the Act of Mediation in 1803 Bellinzona became part of the independent canton of Ticino, and the capital of the new canton from 1803 to 1814. From that date until 1878, Bellinzona, Lugano, and Locarno, took turns being capital every six years. In 1878 Bellinzona became the capital of the canton.

The town includes the village of Artore and, since the incorporation in 1907, the former municipalities of Carasso, Daro, and Ravecchia.

In 1874, the first sections of the Gotthard railway opened, linking Bellinzona to Biasca and Locarno. By 1882, the whole line was open, extending northwards to northern Switzerland via the Gotthard Tunnel, southwards to Lugano and Milan via the Monte Ceneri Pass, and down the east shore of Lake Maggiore to Luino. Between 1907 and 1972, Bellinzona was also linked to Mesocco and other Val Mesolcina communities by the Bellinzona–Mesocco railway.

On 2 April 2017 the former neighbouring municipalities of Camorino, Claro, Giubiasco, Gnosca, Gorduno, Gudo, Moleno, Monte Carasso, Pianezzo, Preonzo, Sant'Antonio and Sementina merged into Bellinzona. [16]

Bellinzona is situated in the valley of the river Ticino, at an altitude of 240 metres (790 ft). The town centre lies about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) east of the river, with the urban area confined to the bottom and lower slopes of the valley. However the municipality's boundaries extend up both sides of the valley, to altitudes of 2,240 metres (7,350 ft) to the west, and 2,195 metres (7,201 ft) to the east. [3]

The town is located at a point at which the river Ticino, which has been flowing in a generally southerly direction, makes a turn to the west, to flow through the wide Pionoa di Magadino before entering the Lake Maggiore, and after it finally reaches to the Italian Po Valley and Lombardy.

Upstream, several valleys reach into the high Alps, with access to northern Switzerland over or through the Passo del San Gottardo via the Valle Leventina, the upper valley of the Ticino, and further to the west with access to the Valais over the Nufenen Pass via the Val Bedretto, and access to the Grisonian Surselva of the Anterior Rhine via the Valle di Blenio over the Lukmanier Pass. The river Moesa, running down the Valle Mesolcina from the San Bernardino Pass with access to the Gresionian valley Rheinwald of the Posterior Rhine, joins the Ticino on the northern boundary of the town. [3]

To the south the Monte Ceneri Pass crosses the Lugano Prealps to give access to Lake Lugano and an alternate route to Lombardy, whilst the San Jorio Pass provides a possible route east to the upper Lake Como. [3] [10]

The town Bellinzona has an area, as of 1997 [update] , of 19.15 square kilometers (7.39 sq mi). Of this area, 4.21 km 2 (1.63 sq mi) or 22.0% is used for agricultural purposes, while 11.96 km 2 (4.62 sq mi) or 62.5% is forested. Of the rest of the land, 4.55 km 2 (1.76 sq mi) or 23.8% is settled (buildings or roads), 0.47 km 2 (0.18 sq mi) or 2.5% is either rivers or lakes and 0.09 km 2 (22 acres) or 0.5% is unproductive land. [17] Of the built up area, industrial buildings made up 1.6% of the total area while housing and buildings made up 13.0%. Transportation infrastructure made up 5.8% while parks, green belts and sports fields made up 2.7%. Out of the forested land, 60.1% of the total land area is heavily forested and 1.9% is covered with orchards or small clusters of trees. Of the agricultural land, 6.6% is used for growing crops, while 2.5% is used for orchards or vine crops and 13.0% is used for alpine pastures. All the water in the municipality is flowing water. [17]

Bellinzona has a permanent population (as of December 2019 [update] ) of 43,279 [18] . In 2008, 29.4% of the population were foreign nationals. [19] Between 1997 and 2007 the population has changed at a rate of 0.7%.

Most of the population (as of 2000 [update] ) speaks Italian (87.4%), with German being second most common (3.6%) and Serbo-Croatian being third (2.5%). [20] Of the Swiss national languages (as of 2000 [update] ), 14,392 people speak Italian, 590 speak German, 189 people speak French, and 13 people speak Romansh. The remainder (1,279 people) speak another language. [21] The metropolitan area of Bellinzona had a population of 47,128, [22] divided into 16 municipalities.

As of 2008 [update] , the gender distribution of the population was 46.6% male and 53.4% female. The population was made up of 5,503 Swiss men (31.8% of the population), and 2,567 (14.8%) non-Swiss men. There were 6,781 Swiss women (39.1%), and 2,472 (14.3%) non-Swiss women. [23]

In 2008 [update] there were 132 live births to Swiss citizens and 45 births to non-Swiss citizens, and in same time span there were 132 deaths of Swiss citizens and 15 non-Swiss citizen deaths. Ignoring immigration and emigration, the population of Swiss citizens remained the same while the foreign population increased by 30. There were 7 Swiss men who emigrated from Switzerland to another country, 3 Swiss women who emigrated from Switzerland to another country, 67 non-Swiss men who emigrated from Switzerland to another country and 70 non-Swiss women who emigrated from Switzerland to another country. The total Swiss population change in 2008 (from all sources) was an increase of 377 and the non-Swiss population change was a decrease of 202 people. This represents a population growth rate of 1.0%. [19]

The age distribution, as of 2009 [update] , in Bellinzona is 1,530 children or 8.8% of the population are between 0 and 9 years old and 1,623 teenagers or 9.4% are between 10 and 19. Of the adult population, 2,091 people or 12.1% of the population are between 20 and 29 years old. 2,526 people or 14.6% are between 30 and 39, 2,721 people or 15.7% are between 40 and 49, and 2,260 people or 13.0% are between 50 and 59. The senior population distribution is 1,969 people or 11.4% of the population are between 60 and 69 years old, 1,470 people or 8.5% are between 70 and 79, there are 1,133 people or 6.5% who are between 80 and 89. [23]

As of 2000 [update] , there were 7,294 private households in the municipality, and an average of 2.2 persons per household. [20] In 2000 [update] there were 1,490 single family homes (or 51.5% of the total) out of a total of 2,892 inhabited buildings. There were 419 two family buildings (14.5%) and 642 multi-family buildings (22.2%). There were also 341 buildings in the municipality that were multipurpose buildings (used for both housing and commercial or another purpose). [24]

The vacancy rate for the municipality, in 2008 [update] , was 1.45%. Of the apartments, a total of 7,255 apartments (85.8% of the total) were permanently occupied, while 932 apartments (11.0%) were seasonally occupied and 268 apartments (3.2%) were empty. [25] In 2000 [update] there were 8,455 apartments in the municipality. The most common apartment size was the 3-room apartment of which there were 2,746. There were 474 single room apartments and 1,253 apartments with five or more rooms. [25] As of 2007 [update] , the construction rate of new housing units was 6.2 new units per 1000 residents. [20]

As of 2003 [update] the average price to rent an average apartment in Bellinzona was 956.03 Swiss francs (CHF) per month (US$760, £430, €610 approx. exchange rate from 2003). The average rate for a one-room apartment was 673.24 CHF (US$540, £300, €430), a two-room apartment was about 740.60 CHF (US$590, £330, €470), a three-room apartment was about 910.37 CHF (US$730, £410, €580) and a six or more room apartment cost an average of 1406.75 CHF (US$1130, £630, €900). The average apartment price in Bellinzona was 85.7% of the national average of 1116 CHF. [26]

Historic Demographics Edit

source: Historical Dictionary of Switzerland [27]
1591 1781 1808 1850 1880 1910 1930 1950 1970 1990
Population ca. 200 [A] ca. 1,100 1,260 3,209 4,036 10,406 10,706 12,060 16,979 16,849
Language German 140 1,028 831 807 1,040 681
French 6 74 127 162 179 209
Italian 3,887 9,266 9,712 11,053 15,574 14,948
Other 3 38 36 38 186 1,011
Religion Protestant 43 632 550 577 844 626
Roman Catholic 3,985 8,947 9,577 11,196 15,817 14,592
Other/None 8 827 579 287 318 1,631 [B]
Nationality Swiss 2,742 3,260 6,936 8,755 10,427 12,848 11,924
Foreign 467 776 3,470 1,951 1,633 4,131 4,925
A Number of households B in 1990, 879 were either atheist or did not identify with any religion

In the 2007 federal election the most popular party was the FDP which received 30.61% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SP (23.11%), the CVP (19.85%) and the Ticino League (11.42%). In the federal election, a total of 4,634 votes were cast, and the voter turnout was 46.1%. [28]

In the 2007 [update] Ticino Gran Consiglio election, there were a total of 10,187 registered voters in Bellinzona, of which 6,486 or 63.7% voted. 109 blank ballots and 16 null ballots were cast, leaving 6,361 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PLRT which received 1,569 or 24.7% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the SSI (with 1,233 or 19.4%), the PS (with 1,210 or 19.0%) and the PPD+GenGiova (with 957 or 15.0%). [29]

In the 2007 [update] Ticino Consiglio di Stato election, there were 60 blank ballots and 22 null ballots, which left 6,405 valid ballots in the election. The most popular party was the PS which received 1,472 or 23.% of the vote. The next three most popular parties were the PLRT (with 1,453 or 22.7%), the SSI (with 1,103 or 17.2%) and the LEGA (with 1,074 or 16.8%). [29]

The local industry is mainly based on mechanical engineering. The Società Bancaria Ticinese is based in Bellinzona. The most important employer is Swiss Federal Railways.

As of 2007 [update] , Bellinzona had an unemployment rate of 5.16%. As of 2005 [update] , there were 33 people employed in the primary economic sector and about 10 businesses involved in this sector. 1,691 people are employed in the secondary sector and there are 149 businesses in this sector. 11,647 people are employed in the tertiary sector, with 1,093 businesses in this sector. [20]

In 2000 [update] , there were 16,293 workers who commuted into the municipality and 2,631 workers who commuted away. The municipality is a net importer of workers, with about 6.2 workers entering the municipality for every one leaving. About 45.3% of the workforce coming into Bellinzona are coming from outside Switzerland, while 0.1% of the locals commute out of Switzerland for work. [30] Of the working population, 8.8% used public transportation to get to work, and 50.6% used a private car. [20]

As of 2009 [update] , there were 9 hotels in Bellinzona with a total of 145 rooms and 283 beds. [31]

From the 2000 census [update] , 12,185 or 74.0% were Roman Catholic, while 651 or 4.0% belonged to the Swiss Reformed Church. There are 2,164 individuals (or about 13.14% of the population) who belong to another church (not listed on the census), and 1,463 individuals (or about 8.89% of the population) did not answer the question. [21]

Bellinzona has an average of 102.8 days of rain or snow per year and on average receives 1,563 mm (61.5 in) of precipitation. The wettest month is May during which time Bellinzona receives an average of 181 mm (7.1 in) of rain or snow. During this month there is precipitation for an average of 13 days. The driest month of the year is December with an average of 60 mm (2.4 in) of precipitation over 13 days. [32]

In Bellinzona about 60.5% of the population (between age 25–64) have completed either non-mandatory upper secondary education or additional higher education (either university or a Fachhochschule). [20]

In Bellinzona there are a total of 2,662 students (as of 2009 [update] ). The Ticino education system provides up to three years of non-mandatory kindergarten and in Bellinzona there are 413 children in kindergarten.

The primary school program lasts for five years and includes both a standard school and a special school. In the municipality, 781 students attend the standard primary schools and 51 students attend the special school. In the lower secondary school system, students either attend a two-year middle school followed by a two-year pre-apprenticeship or they attend a four-year program to prepare for higher education. There are 632 students in the two-year middle school and 3 in their pre-apprenticeship, while 271 students are in the four-year advanced program.

The upper secondary school includes several options, but at the end of the upper secondary program, a student will be prepared to enter a trade or to continue on to a university or college. In Ticino, vocational students may either attend school while working on their internship or apprenticeship (which takes three or four years) or may attend school followed by an internship or apprenticeship (which takes one year as a full-time student or one and a half to two years as a part-time student). [33] There are 162 vocational students who are attending school full-time and 299 who attend part-time. The professional program lasts three years and prepares a student for a job in engineering, nursing, computer science, business, tourism and similar fields. There are 50 students in the professional program. [34]

As of 2000 [update] , there were 2,957 students in Bellinzona who came from another municipality, while 313 residents attended schools outside the municipality. [30]

Bellinzona is home to 2 libraries. These libraries include the Biblioteca Cantonale Bellinzona and the Biblioteca comunale. There was a combined total (as of 2008 [update] ) of 138,818 books or other media in the libraries, and in the same year a total of 43,919 items were loaned out. [35]

Bellinzona railway station is a major intermediate stop on the Gotthard railway. It is a stopping point for major trains heading north toward Arth-Goldau and Zürich, south toward Lugano, Chiasso and Italy, or southwest to Locarno. The station is also served by the regional trains operated by TiLo to Biasca, Chiasso, Locarno, Lugano and Malpensa Airport.

PostBus Switzerland, known locally as the AutoPostale, operate a small network of city bus routes within Lugano, as well as longer distance routes to other towns and cities. All routes serve the railway station.

The A2 and A13 motorways, as well as some main roads, link here, thus making it an important transportational node. The A2 runs north via the Gotthard Pass to Lucerne, Basle and Germany, and south to Lugano and Italy. The A13 runs north-east via the San Bernardino Pass to Chur and Austria.

The town is known for its carnival Rabadan, which has taken place for over 150 years.

GDT Bellinzona, the hockey team, plays in the Swiss 1. Liga.

The female basketball team (Pallacanestro Bellinzona) plays in the National League A.

The floorball team (Ticino Unihockey) plays in the National league B since some years.

The light athletics society (GAB Bellinzona) organises every year a meeting called "Galà dei Castelli" (literally: Castles's gala), with a lot of world-famous athletes and the best Swiss athletes.

Bellinzona is home to twelve buildings or areas that are listed as Swiss heritage site of national significance. Additionally, it is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Three Castles of Bellinzona. The merger on 2 April 2017 added seven additional buildings or sites. The entire old town of Bellinzona, along with the villages of Moleno and Preonzo, is listed on the Inventory of Swiss Heritage Sites. [36]

In addition to the Three Castles and the town walls, the medieval and early modern town is included on the list. Three religious buildings, the Church of S. Maria delle Grazie, the Collegiata dei Ss. Pietro e Stefano and the Church of S. Biagio a Ravecchiai, are on the list. The Cantonal Archives, Bagno Pubblico, the secondary school (Italian: Scuola media) on via Lavizzari 28 and the Teatro sociale are the rest of the buildings on the list.


Here’s some tips to get the most out of Bellinzona in Ticino

Due to its strategic location just south of the alpine passes, three castles were built by the Dukes of Milan to serve as fortifications against tyrants: Castelgrande, Montebello, and Sasso Corbaro.

Today, Bellinzona is the capital of the canton of Ticino and is once again an important element along the north-to-south transportation axis. Whether by train or by car, we routinely stop in Bellinzona when traveling to Ticino. Saturday is our favorite weekday in Bellinzona because it is market day. In this visitor's guide, I would like to share some tips for first-timers so that you can get the most out of Bellinzona.

Bellinzona's charm is scattered all over the old town.

Imagine colorful buildings, southern charm, and Italian lingo: what else can you ask for provided that Bellinzona can be reached from Zürich by train in as little as 100 minutes? In no time, you will feel like on vacation somewhere in the south.

If you time your visit for a Saturday, even better. This is when the weekly farmers' market takes place all over the old town. Deli meats, raw cuts, fresh fish, alpine cheese, dried herbs, organic vegetables, pastries, bread, and polenta a-go-go. You name it and you can probably find it! Simply let your nose guide the way and you will surely feel satisfied by the time the church bells ring at noon.

Not to miss: a visit to the castles of Bellinzona

Together, the three castles comprise a unique UNESCO World Heritage site. The mighty walls, towers, battlements, and gates of these imposing fortresses never cease to astonish us. So far, we have only visited the museum at Castelgrande. But in fact, each of the castles houses its own museum.

Here is the view from Castelgrande onto the old town with its market street:

And on top of the hill right behind the train station, you can see the two other castles, Montebello (halfway up the hill with the same name) and Sasso Corbaro:

Once you get done strolling around the vast grounds of Castelgrande, I would suggest you find your way down to the cathedral:

There, you will notice a signpost directing you to Montebello. Fifteen minutes describes the walk quite well as it is going to be up, up, and up!

The trail will lead partly through the old town, then climb the hill alongside shrubs and a vineyard.

What a rewarding view back at Castelgrande! It was worth every step to climb Montebello.

As we leave the Montebello castle to walk back to the train station, I take a look back and see this indescribably beautiful view:

For another day, there's a Tibetan hanging bridge in Curzútt above Bellinzona.

In case you like adventure, how about a walk across a 270 meter long suspended bridge? The Tibetan bridge in the small stone village of Curzútt above Bellinzona is definitely worth a visit. Actually, you could easily call crossing this bridge a bucket list thing to do - it takes some guts!

Your starting point for this hike will be the cable car station at Monte Carasso, which is about 2 km from the courthouse in Bellinzona's old town. Even better, catch bus 311 to "Monte Carasso, Cunvént". To avoid having to wait in line at the vending machine, reserve your cable car slot ahead of time.

For the purpose of this hike, you will take the cable car for only one stop to Curzútt and embark on a short hike through the stone village:

The path is well maintained with those stone steps that are typical for Ticino:

You will end up above the Tibetan bridge. Here is a detailed hiking description that will take you across the bridge and back to Bellinzona. As you cross the bridge, just don't think about the fact that you are 130 meters above the valley floor.


Big and beautiful

Very beautiful castle, great view and easy to reach. 1 hour is enough to see all and take some beautiful photos. Just the staff is not very nice and busy with phone. Before I speak, just told me the toilet is outside while there is one right there. Of course I have to ask few more questions, I was told restaurant is closed on Monday also. If you are also Asian, donot feel discriminated, italans don’t know how to respect, not even to their own kind.

This is the least interesting of Bellinzona's three castles, but still worth if you have the time. It is the most accessible as it is within the city and there is an elevator.

This is most big castle in Bellinzona. You can walk for hours inside and enjoy beautiful view to another castles and city. Landscape is amazing! Entrance is free, but you wanna visit museums inside castles, you must pay. All in all, you should stay for few hours inside and may be will have picnic )

This castle is easily accessible since it's in one of the major squares of the city. With elevator access you get to go up and see the sights of the town and your can even heat a great meal at Grotto San Michele which has amazing views of the other two castles and the city.

We were unfortunate enough to visit the Castle on the weekend of their carnival (26/2) which meant we had to forego the visit to the castle's museum, though I have to confess the carnival festivities more than made up for that..

The castle grounds were kept in pristine conditions and we truly enjoyed our little picnic amidst the lush castle greenery.

I would recommend for all fans of UNESCO heritage sites and those who enjoy a moderate hike with picnic.


The three Medieval castles of Bellinzona

Discover Bellinzona’s three medieval castles, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro will allow you to journey back into the past, to a time when dukes and confederates fought in shining armour. Walk along the battlements and through the little doors notched into the thick walls, visit secret rooms and imagine how life was once lived.

This loop itinerary allows you to discover the three medieval castles, listed in the year 2000 as a World Heritage site. They were built by the dukes of Milan in the Fifteenth Century to stop the Confederates to the north advancing south. Indeed, Bellinzona has long represented a prime strategic location, at the crossing point of the alpine routes between North and South (Gotthard, Lukmanier, San Bernardino, Nufenen).
Starting from Viale Portone you access the first Castle, Castelgrande, (or by lift from Piazza del Sole). Castelgrande boasts two tall towers and some battlements which can partially be explored on foot. It is host to a museum which explores the story of the city, as well as hosting permanent exhibitions and a restaurant. From Castelgrande you can go down the steps taking you to Piazza Collegiata from there, on the opposite side, you can go back up the narrow street at the side of the church and reach Montebello castle, located on the hill.
After your visit continue along Via Artore for a short while, then cross the stream to arrive in Via Piumerino. From here, through paths crossing vineyards, you climb up towards the village of Artore, finally reaching the sealed road again (Via alla Predella). Less than one km below, following the incline of today's road, stand the splendid Sasso Corbaro fortifications. From this height you enjoy a stunning view over the city.
From the castle, exiting via a little door cut in the walls, you continue on downhill on the opposite side of the hill (compared to the ascent), toward Montebello. Just before the castle, the mule-track on the left takes you back to the starting point crossing one of the most authentic old centres of Ticino.

To explore the route, we recommend buying the official maps of the Federal Office of Topography Swisstopo. In addition, the following website map.geo.admin.ch offers constantly updated data.

  • Hiking boots
  • Sun cap
  • Water-bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun cream
  • Hiking map
  • Camera
  • Food

Montagnepulite: This project was born to promote an effective management and sustainable use of mountain huts in Ticino, and in particular the litter management. The responsible management of litter in the mountains is a matter of common sense. We can all contribute: www.montagnepulite.ch/en/golden-rules

Alternative routes

Alternative path for the return: after the Sasso Corbaro castle, follow the tarmac road and at the first fork turn left. Carry on until the bends which take you to Ravecchia, on Via Ospedale. Walk down the road alongside the Dragonato stream, ‘til the main road, Via Franco Zorzi, and turn right. Walking straight and crossing the pretty old centre of Bellinzona takes you back to Piazza del Sole.


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Tag Archives: Castelgrande

In Como, I made up my mind that I was going to try to find this swimming hole that I had pinned on Pinterest that mapped out as pretty close by. Pinterest has a new mapping feature, which is pretty cool if you’re traveling! So I used the hostel wifi at breakfast to pull up Google Maps and see what the transportation situation was like. I found out that while this place wasn’t very far away, I was going to need to change trains in this town called Bellinzona and because I would likely be getting in mid-day, I would need accommodations for the night.

Researching Bellinzona I found out that it actually is a UNSECO World Heritage Site with three castles! Pretty awesome! So I packed up my backpack (which was extra small as I had left my backpacking one in Milan and was traveling with a school sized backpack… yeah, I wore the same clothes over and over… but it’s good to travel light), booked my hostel and I walked to the Como train station. Well, first I walked to the wrong train station, but they straightened me up over there. Because I walked to the wrong station, I missed the first train and spent the majority of the afternoon hanging out at the train station.

I point this out because people think that traveling or vacation is all glamourous and pleasant all the time. Yes, it is wonderful, but part of the reason why I’ve seen so many amazing things is because I’ve been ok to eat PB&J, stay in and work, sleep in my car, accidentally go to the wrong place, hurry up and wait, wear the same thing over and over, ride long distances.


The three Medieval castles of Bellinzona

Discover Bellinzona’s three medieval castles, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro will allow you to journey back into the past, to a time when dukes and confederates fought in shining armour. Walk along the battlements and through the little doors notched into the thick walls, visit secret rooms and imagine how life was once lived.

This loop itinerary allows you to discover the three medieval castles, listed in the year 2000 as a World Heritage site. They were built by the dukes of Milan in the Fifteenth Century to stop the Confederates to the north advancing south. Indeed, Bellinzona has long represented a prime strategic location, at the crossing point of the alpine routes between North and South (Gotthard, Lukmanier, San Bernardino, Nufenen).
Starting from Viale Portone you access the first Castle, Castelgrande, (or by lift from Piazza del Sole). Castelgrande boasts two tall towers and some battlements which can partially be explored on foot. It is host to a museum which explores the story of the city, as well as hosting permanent exhibitions and a restaurant. From Castelgrande you can go down the steps taking you to Piazza Collegiata from there, on the opposite side, you can go back up the narrow street at the side of the church and reach Montebello castle, located on the hill.
After your visit continue along Via Artore for a short while, then cross the stream to arrive in Via Piumerino. From here, through paths crossing vineyards, you climb up towards the village of Artore, finally reaching the sealed road again (Via alla Predella). Less than one km below, following the incline of today's road, stand the splendid Sasso Corbaro fortifications. From this height you enjoy a stunning view over the city.
From the castle, exiting via a little door cut in the walls, you continue on downhill on the opposite side of the hill (compared to the ascent), toward Montebello. Just before the castle, the mule-track on the left takes you back to the starting point crossing one of the most authentic old centres of Ticino.

To explore the route, we recommend buying the official maps of the Federal Office of Topography Swisstopo. In addition, the following website map.geo.admin.ch offers constantly updated data.

  • Hiking boots
  • Sun cap
  • Water-bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Sun cream
  • Hiking map
  • Camera
  • Food

Montagnepulite: This project was born to promote an effective management and sustainable use of mountain huts in Ticino, and in particular the litter management. The responsible management of litter in the mountains is a matter of common sense. We can all contribute: www.montagnepulite.ch/en/golden-rules

Alternative routes

Alternative path for the return: after the Sasso Corbaro castle, follow the tarmac road and at the first fork turn left. Carry on until the bends which take you to Ravecchia, on Via Ospedale. Walk down the road alongside the Dragonato stream, ‘til the main road, Via Franco Zorzi, and turn right. Walking straight and crossing the pretty old centre of Bellinzona takes you back to Piazza del Sole.


Watch the video: Bellinzona. Ticino. CH. Gita (May 2022).