Rising dramatically above the Old Town, this medieval stronghold is Bellinzona’s most visible icon. Head up Salita San Michele from Piazza Collegiata, or take the lift, buried deep in the rocky hill in an extraordinary concrete bunker-style construction, from Piazza del Sole. After wandering the grounds and the museum, stroll west along the Murata, the castle’s snaking ramparts, with photogenic views of vine-streaked mountains and castle-studded hills.
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Nearby Ticino attractions
1. Museo di Castelgrande
This museum has a modest collection of finds from Castelgrande's hill dating to prehistoric times. More engaging are the 15th-century ceiling decorations…
2. Piazza Collegiata
This cobblestone square is framed by graceful 18th-century patrician houses, many with decorative wrought-iron balconies.
3. Chiesa Collegiata dei SS Pietro e Stefano
Light streams through the rose window above the portal in this Renaissance church, lavishly adorned with frescoes and baroque stucco.
4. Palazzo del Comune
Bellinzona’s restored Renaissance town hall is worth a peek for its beautiful three-storey inner courtyard of loggias and frescoes showing historic scenes…
5. Chiesa di San Rocco
This ochre-hued church is noteworthy for its huge fresco of St Christopher and a smaller one of the Virgin Mary and Christ.
6. Castello di Montebello
On cloudless days, you can see Lake Maggiore from this 13th-century hilltop fortification. The fortress is one of Bellinzona’s most impressive with its…
7. Castello di Sasso Corbaro
From central Bellinzona, it’s a 3.5km hike south to the Castello di Sasso Corbaro. Perched high on a wooded hillside, the castle has an austere beauty…
8. Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie
This 15th-century church has an extraordinary fresco cycle (recently restored after being damaged by fire in 1996) of the life and death of Christ. The…