Bellinzona's three castles: Montebello

Friday, November 9, 2012

After having left the enchanting Lucerne the last stop of this great road trip of July 2012 was Bellinzona, mostly known as the city of the three castles. After three popular destinations I came back to the off the beaten tracks again!

If you are fond of castles
, dream about knights, epic battles against dragons or being a feudal lord, this is one of ideal castles to visit.

In fact Bellinzona has been appointed to the list of Unesco sites as the "three castles, defensive walls and ramparts of the market-town of Bellinzona".. The World Heritage List site specifies: "The fortified ensemble of Bellinzona is a unique example of European architecture erected in defence of feudal structure guarding a key strategic Alpine pass".

It also adds that it is "the sole remaining example in the entire Alpine region of medieval military architecture, comprising three castles, a wall that once closed off the whole Ticino valley, and ramparts which surrounded the town for the protection of its citizens".

Well I was unlucky as on the way to Bellinzona you have to cross the San Gottardo gallery and this means traffic jam especially in a holiday period like the end of July.

So I got to the city around 4 pm and I had just 2 hours to visit 3 castles!

Well among the 3 castles which one I chose first? the middle one, Montebello Castle.


Montebello Castle is located on the hill at 90 mt/ 300 feet above the city. You can reach it by car or following a trail called Salita Motta. To get to the castle you have to cross an outer gateway with moat
and then the internal door. Here you reach the first inner courtyard built during the 13th Century by the Rusca family and restored many times.
As you can see the keep is surrounded by a first defensive wall. In the middle of this courtyard there's the tower that contains an archaeological museum with tools that reflect the history of this site.
From the tower you can see the ravelin, the outdoor courtyards and towers built during the 14th-15th Century
and also the other two castles, the upper Sasso Corbaro
and the lower Castelgrande
Once outside the tower you can have a walk along the internal walls and see the second line of walls that was connected to Castelgrande crossing the entire city and forming Bellinzona's main fortification,
and then the side walls, a third defensive line.
You have also the possibility to go to the moat area, between the first and the second defensive line,
and you can reach the third defensive line
and to the other side of the fortification.
All these parts were built by Sforza family in the 14th-15th Century and reflect the work of Sforza engineers that does not end here.

The walls are protected by merlons that have been considered perfect by the experts in order to protect the soldiers' guard.

Left Montebello, the next one of the castles to visit was Sasso Corbaro.

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