Bellinzona's Castelgrande and the old medieval city

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Castelgrande, literally "The big castle" in English, is the oldest and largest of the three castles of Bellinzona.

In fact the first fortification was built during the 4th Century a.d. and the current one was built in the 13th Century, modified during the Sforza's governement, and finally completed during the 17th Century.

Well as I reached the castle just 10-15 minutes before the closure of the castle ( at 6 pm) I asked if I could go to the towers and pay the ticket without visiting the museum. The cashier woman agreed and I did not have to pay even the ticket! :-)

Through the south wing passage I reached the south bailey, where you can climb the two main towers, Torre Nera, "the Black Tower", the smallest and the Torre Bianca, "the White Tower", the highest.
You cannot climb the Torre Nera, built in 1310, but you can walk along the wall to reach the Torre Bianca, built in 1250,
accessible and reach the top, where you can admire the Torre Nera from above, the western and northen bailey and part of the Murata, the wall built by the Milan family of Visconti to protec the city;
If you turn your head to the city you can see the old walls that connect Castelgrande to Montebello Castle
and the also Sasso Corbaro.
Down to the ground floor following the again the south wing path
you get to the lifts that take you at the foot of the rocky peak where you can see this spectacular rocky entrance.
If you also turn around the rocky hill you can look up to see the castle and the Murata
and then access directly to the same Murata. This fortification consists in a long wall that once closed the entire Ticino valley and was built by Visconti family at the end of the 14th Century: you can walk along its galleries ( don't do it in case of fear of the dark)
or over it
Here you can dream to be a a duke or a king or your castle, a soldier or a knight defending it when you are in the middle of this beautiful landscape:
In the last picture you can see the older enclosing wall tha contain the outer wards
and then you can come back to the north bailey
that lead you to the city ( clearly not this way).
but this one! :-)
The old medieval city has some nice pedestrian-only streets with nice old buildings and mostly the Palazzo Civico, or Town Hall, typical Milan style, in Piazza Nosetto:
The palace has an internal courtyard with some paintings about the old fortification system of Bellinzona, especially the gates and the walls over Ticino river.
The last monument seen was the Palace of Government
before coming back to Piazza Nosetto, where every Saturday morning there's the pitoresque market of the city.
Bellizona and its three castles, defensive walls and ramparts really were impressed me and if I can give you an useful tip, please buy the combo-ticket, that costs 12 Euros or 15 CHF, that allows to visit the museums of the 3 castles and Villa dei Cedri, enchanting villa of the 19th Century that I could not visit.
I recommend strongly to come there before 13-14 o' clock in order to visit them with no pressure ( they close at 18). This is a great example of the off the beaten path Switzerland!

So...this is the last stop of my road trip July 2012: I hope you enjoyed it and in the next post I will make a little report about this fantastic journey! :-)

4 commenti:

bima sakti said...

Great picture, nice looks. Hope to go there someday

Marco Zannin said...

Thanks for the comment Bima! yeah Bellizona with its 3 castles had an impressive defensive system! If you like castles it's a great place! :-)

Franco Cavalleri said...

Bellinzona was the northernmost defensive system of the Duchy of Milan. See the vipers on the walls in the palace courtyard and on the palace entrance from Piazza Nosetto? That's the symbol of the Duchy of Milan! The region was eventually given over to the Swiss, between last decades in the 1400s and the first years in the 1500s.

If you go further north, either to the Leventina or the Mesolcina valleys, you will find more samples of Milan's defensive systems.

Marco Zannin said...

Thanks for your comment Franco! Yes the Duchy of Milan developed all these fortifications and personally it's the most impressive system ever seen so far! :-)

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