• Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon
  • Valère and Tourbillon

Valère and Tourbillon

Sion, VS
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    Valère and Tourbillon

    The Castle of Tourbillon

    It was on the highest hilltop that the prince-bishop of Sion, who wielded temporal and spiritual powers, built his main residence. Boniface de Challant, a descendent of a noble family that left us many castles in the Aosta Valley, began its construction at the very end of the 13th century. Already in 1308 he was in a position to put into effect his first measures. After the acquisition of the Majorie tower, nearer to the town, into which bishop Guichard Tavel moved in 1373, Tourbillon played a military and symbolic role. It was dismantled during a revolt of the Valais Patriots in 1417 and completely renovated in the mid-15th century. Only very slight improvements were made over the course of the following centuries, before it was destroyed in the “great” fire of the town in May 1788. It was never rebuilt, but its ruins have since been stabilised, thanks to the Tourbillon Castle Foundation.  

    The remains are complete enough to give us a good idea of the layout of the medieval castle: the bishop’s residence, the great reception room, the outbuildings, the defensive tower and its dovecote, as well as the ramparts and the site of the parapet walk. The chapel choir, itself better preserved, is well worth a visit in order to admire its rich cycle of murals from the start of the 14th century. In the sacristy, you can see the exposed fragments from the cycle from the middle of the 15th century, left there during restoration work in the 1960s. 


    The Venerable Chapter town of Valère

    On the lowest hill sits the cathedral Chapter, the bishop’s “Council of Ministers” in today’s parlance. From the second quarter of the 12th century onwards, the canons began the construction of the church according to the precepts of Roman style. The church was finished towards the middle of the 13th century in the Gothic style. Although the church has remained almost unchanged in its general volume ever since, the interior has evolved over the centuries: murals and organ in the 15th century, Baroque stalls and lateral altars in the 17th century. From around 1800, when the canons left their historic seat to settle around the cathedral, Valère remained peacefully unchanged and today its medieval heritage is in a very rare state of conservation. Highlights include the oldest organ in the world which is still playable (around 1435), one of the last rood screens in Europe from the 13th century and extremely precious furniture including about a dozen pieces from the 13th century. Raised to the rank of basilica in 1987, the church nevertheless has preserved its primary vocation and religious ceremonies take place happily alongside cultural visits. 

    In its walled enclosure a real little village sprang up for the 20 to 25 canons which Valère had in the Middle Ages: individual houses – coming from the secular clergy and named by the bishop, the canons of the cathedral Chapter did not function like in a monastery -, communal rooms, arsenal, utility rooms. There was hardly any space left on the site, unlike in Tourbillon, knowing as we do that around two thirds of the buildings were gradually demolished after the canons left.    

    Since 1883, the rooms which are still preserved have been restored to house the permanent exhibition of the Valais History museum, which exhibits principally numerous pieces from the cathedral Chapter collections, sometimes unique (liturgical chests, emblazoned shields, reliquaries, caskets etc). 

    opening hours

    Tourbillon Castle

    From 15th March to 30th April
    Monday to Sunday
    11am – 5pm

    From 1st May to 30th September
    Monday to Sunday
    10am – 6pm

    From 1st Oktober to 15th November
    Monday to Sunday
    11am – 5pm

    Closed from the 16th November to 14th March

    Valère and history museum

    From October to May
    Tuesday to Sunday
    11am – 5pm

    From June to September
    All days
    11am – 6pm

    Closed : 1st January and 25th December
    Closed from 16pm on: 24th & 31st December. The museum is closed all day if these dates fall on a Monday.


    Tourbillon Castle

    Free entrance.
    Details on guided tours of the chapel are available here: https://www.tourbillon.ch/

    History Museum

    Payment in cash only.
    Free admission and activities on the first Sunday of the month.


    • Adults : 8.- CHF
    • Children aged 6 and over & Seniors : 4.- CHF
    • Family : 16.- CHF

    Basilica Valère

    Admission to the nave is free.

    For full details of how to visit the Basilica Valère, click here:

    visitor information

    Access for people with reduced mobility is very difficult on both sites.  

    Website and Social Media



    Tourbillon Castle has no restaurant facilities.

    The Café de Valère is located in the centre of the chapter town of Valère : https://cafedevalere.ch


    The walk to the two locations takes at least 10 minutes and the last stretch must be covered on foot.
    The train station is a twenty-minute walk from the old town.

    How do I get to the Museums?

    By car :
    Motorway A9, exit Sion-Est, direction parking de la Cible or parking du Nord.

    By public transport :
    Sion SBB station, Bus Sédunois 3, Poste du Nord stop.
    SBB station, postal buses for Anzère, Ayent, Savièse, Crans or Arbaz, Poste du Nord stop.

    By taxi :
    Taxis can access as far as Place Maurice Zermatten, at the foot of both sites.

    On foot:
    Via Rue des Châteaux.
    The station is a twenty-minute walk from the historic centre.


    Take advantage of a joint ticket that allows you to visit, at the foot of the Valère and Tourbillon hills, the Valais Art Museum housed in the Majorie and Vidomnat castles, and the Valais Nature Museum, which occupies the former rural outbuildings of the latter.

    Joint ticket
    One ticket = Three Museums!

    • Adults: CHF 14.00
    • Children aged 6 and over & Seniors: CHF 7.00
    • Families: CHF 28.00

    The joint ticket gives you access to each of the Cantonal Museums once, as well as to the Pénitencier when there are temporary exhibitions there.
    This ticket remains valid until all three Museums have been visited.

    And don't forget to visit the other medieval treasures of the town of Sion: the cathedral, the church of Saint-Théodule and the Supersaxo house. For further information, visit : https://siontourisme.ch/fr/

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