Knights and world records in Central Europe

The Fortress of Bellinzona is a UNESCO World Heritage site characterized by three castles, Castelgrande, Montebello, and Sasso Corbaro, a defensive wall and ramparts around the entire valley. With origins dating back to the 15th century, this site was officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000 and stands as one of the most significant examples of medieval defensive architecture in the Alps.

Bellinzona emerged due to its strategic position, which controlled access to the primary Alpine pass leading from the north to the region of Milan and Northern Italy. Consequently, it frequently became a contention between the Dukes of Milan and the Swiss. In 1516, the town became part of the Swiss Federation.

Before its medieval significance, Bellinzona had already garnered recognition from the ancient Romans as a place of strategic importance. They erected the initial fortress there during the first century, which was subsequently fortified during the Middle Ages, transforming into an impregnable stronghold. Today, it remains the only visible example of medieval military architecture in the Alpine region. The site comprises several castles linked by a wall enclosing the Ticino Valley, along with defensive ramparts encircling the city to safeguard its inhabitants.

The fortress is open for visitors, and many activities are held there. The Castelgrande houses a museum showcasing the history of the castles and the city center. At the same time, Montebello Castle hosts an exhibition highlighting archaeological discoveries from Ticino, with a particular focus on the Bellinzona Region. Visitors will also enjoy great views of the city and the surrounding mountains all the way to Lake Maggiore. Find out more about visiting the Swiss fortress!

Walk the ramparts at Montebello Castle, Switzerland
Walk the ramparts at Montebello Castle, © Switzerland Tourism / Jan Geerk.

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