Next up on our continuing Swiss Glamping Adventure – the Castles of Bellinzona. In our favor for this excursion were a Railaway Combi Offer, good weather on a Saturday, and our desire to see even more Swiss loveliness . With predicted temps in the 50s, tromping through restored ruins sounded mighty appealing.
Bellinzona, a 2 ¼ hour train ride from Zürich to Switzerland’s southernmost canton of Ticino, has held an strategic geographic location in the Alps since the early Neolithic Age. If you need to look that up like I did, that was the period in Europe between 7000 BC and c. 1700 BC. At least four alpine passes meet near current-day Bellinzona making it an important trading center for lo, these many years.
The first structure, Castelgrande, began as a fort built on a massive rock outcropping during the time of the Roman Emperor Augustus, and has spent time over the years falling into disrepair and then being rebuilt and expanded until the most recent renovations throughout the 1900s.
Plenty of vineyards surround the castle, lying dormant at this time. I’m sure this would look incredibly beautiful in the snow.
From atop the tallest tower one can get a great look over the city and up and down the narrow valley. This view looks towards the south and Lugano which was obscured by haze and mountains.
I just loved the outcropping of the gneiss from which the castle emerges.
Climbing up a little bit, one reaches the middle castle called Montebello which started its life much later than Castelgrande in the 15th Century. It was fun to walk across the drawbridges and look down into the moats. Both of the castles are connected to the original city walls, much of which are restored, some of which you can walk on.
View of Montebello from above.
Looking up high, you can spot the third, and smallest castle – Sasso Corbado.
We could have chosen to take the bus up, up, up the hill, but we had been on the train for over two hours already, and we had another 2-hour ride home, so hiking up was our choice. Besides, on Saturday the bus only goes four times, and we missed it, anyway. It look us less than half an hour to climb up the hill.
This small castle didn’t have much to see, except for great views.
Here we are, looking north from whence we had come.
All three castles became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
Part of the charm of the castles are the remains of the city wall, much of which has been restored.
There are supposedly some museums (one museum) here, but I don’t think they were open, even though our combi ticket included entrance. We would have liked to have seen the museums, but oh, well. The views and the weather made for a perfect outing.
I had so much fun taking pictures, and I put more here on my Photobucket site. If you view it in Story format instead of Slideshow, it makes for a nicer viewing, I think.