The Fortress of Bellinzona
Bellinzona, TI show Website
Castelgrande, Montebello & Sasso Corbaro
Bellinzona's three castles and the Sforza Wall are some of the most impressive and well-preserved examples of medieval architecture built in defence of the alpine territories. Since 2000 the castles and the Sforza and city walls of Bellinzona have received the status of Unesco World Heritage Sites.
The Castelgrande hill was first settled around 5500 BC, the Montebello castle complex was constructed during the 13th and 14th centuries, while the Sasso Corbaro fortress was built on the orders of the Duke of Milan in only six months in 1479.
The castles were of great importance to the Visconti and Sforza families, the Dukes of Milan, who spared no expense or efforts in their construction. Having built the Sasso Corbaro fortress and the wall, thus blocking access to the inner valley, they are mainly responsible for the current appearance of the castles and wall.
The Dukes of Milan valued Bellinzona's strategic location for the defence and control of their alpine territories and regional trade , since the city lay along the most important routes over the mountain passes of St. Gotthard, Nufenen, Lukmanier and St. Bernhard as well as the Greina and San Jorgio passes, which were still commonly used in the 15th century.
The castles host annually changing special exhibitions, which attract many visitors each year as well as special activities for families and children such a workshop organised by the Archaeological Society of Canton Ticino, or workshops on the topics of the special exhibitions. A highlight of any visit is certainly the chance for visitors to make their own castle salami under the tutelage of Rapelli, one of the Ticino’s most famous meat producers.
Towards the end of the season the castles celebrate their admission into the ranks of Unesco World Heritage Sites with an open house and special events. The programme on offer on these so-called Unesco Days is always very special.
Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro open in spring, summer from 10.00 to 18.00h
Entry Bellinzona Pass & Exhibition Leonardo 3D / Bellinzona Pass & 3 Castles, Exhibition Castelgrande / Exhibition Leonardo 3D & Sasso Corbaro
- Adults: CHF 28.- / 18.- / 10.- / 15.-
- Families (2 Adults + 2 children up to 16 years): CHF 70.- / 40.- / 20.- / 35.-
- Reduced: Groups, Students, Children (6-16 years), Senior (+65): 18.- / 10.- / 5.- / 8.-
Includes access to all 3 castles and a CHF 5 voucher for entry to the Villa dei Cedri Museum. For more information on prices for special exhibitions, please ask at the InfoPoint desk.
Picnic area with tables and benches at Montebello Castle. Picnics can be had in the inner courtyard of Castelgrande.
Dogs are not allowed in the castles.
Castelgrande and its weapons hall are accessible by elevator; because the path is cobbled and quite steep, we would recommend that wheelchair users visit the castle accompanied.
Montebello and Sasso Corbaro are not wheelchair accessible.
- Ristorante Castelgrande at Castelgrande
- Osteria Sasso Corbaro at Sasso Corbaro
by public transport
By rail to Bellinzona, lift to Castelgrande Castle, bus or Trenino Artù to Montebello and Sasso Corbaro Castle.
Montebello and Sasso Corbaro Castle by Bus 4 from railway station.
- Car Park at Piazza del Sole for Castle Castelgrande available
- Parking lots are available at the Castles Montebello and Sasso Corbaro
- San Paolo climbing gym
- Bicycle track to Locarno/Lugano/Airolo
- Swimming pool
- Hiking trails to the castles and around the mountains in the region
- Ponte Tibetano Carasc Monte Carasso – Sementina
- Tourist train „Trenino Artù“: between Piazza Collegiata and the castles of Montebello and Sasso Corbaro
- Saturday market in Bellinzona (8 am-1 pm)
- Guided tours for groups (daily) and individuals (very Saturday at 11 am, meet at the tourist office)
- Hotel & SPA Internazionale
- Hotel Unione
- Youth hostel Montebello