- The day pass at Castelgrande in Bellinzona is €5 making it the cheapest tourist attraction in Switzerland.
One of three UNESCO World Heritage castles, Castelgrande rises over the town of Bellinzona. Its shape is characterised by the 89 feet tall "White Tower" and its counterpart, the 92 feet "Black Tower". Castelgrande has been formed over the centuries. It can therefore not be ascribed to one single period, but was shaped by repeated renovations and alterations.
The fortification owes its current state to large renovations under Aurelio Calfetti, carried out in the late 20th century. To get to the castle hill, visitors can follow the impressive wall that leads all the way from the town up to the castle. It was built in the 14th century, and reinforced later. In 1515, parts of the wall were destroyed in a big flood. Once you've made it to the top, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view over Bellinzona and its surroundings. If you have the time, complete the circuit and go explore the castles Sasso Corbaro and Montebello.
According to archaeological findings, the hill of Castelgrande first attracted settlers around 5500 BC. The settlement developed up to the Roman ages; in the 4th century AC the first fortification was built. The Latin name for Castelgrande, Castel Magnum, is first documented around the 14th century. It was later called Castle Uri or Altdorf, and also San Michele for a while, before it got its current name of Castelgrande. The complex owes its shape to numerous restorations throughout the centuries.
How to get there
The castle is located on Salita Castelgrande in Bellinzona. From Piazza Nosetto and Piazza Collegiata you get up the hill through steep little alleyways. Alternatively, you can walk along the wall from Viale Portone. People with impairments or disabilities find a lift at piazza del Sole to take them up to the fort.