Bellinzona in Switzerland, what to see and visit
This is a list of places to visit in a day in the historic Swiss old town of Bellinzona and its castles.
The itinerary can be split in two days, as visiting the museums will take some time already.
Located in the canton of Ticino, Bellinzona is rich in history and has an efficient road and rail system which connect the city internationally.
Being the capital of the Canton, Bellinzona is the center of many government offices.
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How to take a beautiful tour of Bellinzona
For this walk we suggest to wear comfortable shoes as some places of interest are uphill. We will visit castles, churches, Palazzo Civico, Villa dei Cedri and the urban park by the Ticino River. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Piazza Collegiata and the church of Santi Pietro and Stefano
1) The tour starts at Bellinzona’s railway station, where you can get a free city map from the ticket shop or the tourist office. An 8 minutes walk along the viale Stazione brings you to piazza Collegiata where the church of Santi Pietro and Stefano stands. The church houses a number of artworks dating from the XV to the XIX century and a holy water stoup from 1465.
Castelgrande (last restorations directed by Aurelio Galfetti)
2) Castelgrande can be reached on foot via the staircase from piazza Collegiata or by lift from piazzetta della Valle. The castle was built in different stages, the latest restorations (1984-1991) were carried out by the architect Aurelio Galfetti. The castle houses a museum and some slides. The impressive Torre bianca (27 meters high) and Torre nera (28 meters high) are another highlight of this stunning site.
Palazzo Civico of Bellinzona
3) Located in Piazza Nosetto, the Palazzo Civico of Bellinzona is an imposing building with magnificent arcades on different storeys. The inner stairway leads to the upper floors embellished with colorful geraniums and exquisite glass windows which narrate the city’s historic moments.
4) Standing 90 meters above Bellinzona, Montebello Castle is a 12 minutes walk taking via Magoria. The castles houses an archaeological museum with finds from the surrounding area. The Castelli di Bellinzona Salami is aged in the manor. A well-equipped playground for children is located at the entrance of the castle.
Sasso Corbaro Castle
5) Sasso Corbaro Castle takes its name from its geographical location: the castle is located on a rock as dark as the feathers of a raven. The fortress can be reached in 30 minutes from Montebello Castle. In the courtyard surrounded by high walls, stand the watch Tower and the main Tower. The castle was built in 1479 and completed in just over 6 months. The panoramic view from Sasso Corbaro is simply spectacular!
Villa dei Cedri Park
6) Once finished the visit of the third castle, we proceed to Villa dei Cedri. We walk through via Sasso Corbaro, via Ospedale and we take left. The estimated walking time is 35 minutes.
Named after the park’s majestic conifers, the villa serves as a beautiful backdrop for wedding pictures. The villa houses a permanent art collection from Ticino, Switzerland and Lombardy.
Church of San Biagio
7) The church of San Biagio is not far from Villa dei Cedri. One of the oldest churches of Bellinzona, it was transformed several times in the Baroque age and restored in 1912. The square bell tower and the facade’s monumental fresco depicting St. Christopher are quite impressive. The interior has frescos on the side columns and figures of Apostles and saints on the walls. Very interesting a painting of the Virgin and child signed “Domenicus di Lugano”.
Dating back to the 16th century, the granite stoup is an artwork of local artists.
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie
8) 5 minutes walk from the Church of San Biagio, between via Lugano and via Giuseppe Torti, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie dates back to the end of the 15th century. The interior is remarkable, divided by a huge transverse wall. The central part represents the Crucifixion and the 15 side frames depict the life of Christ. The church was restored recently after the great fire of the 31st of December 1996.
9) Lying on the western side of Bellinzona, the big urban park runs alongside the Ticino River, and is a 20 minutes walk from the center. Here you can stroll along the river and have a picnic surrounded by greenery
Bellinzona’s Market and the “Strada in festa”
The traditional market of Bellinzona takes place every Saturday along the streets of the historic center from 8h00 till 13h00.
“Strada in festa” is an event created in 2009 by a group of people belonging to trade companies of Bellinzona and Giubiasco. The 2350 meters market unwinds from Piazza Nosetto (Bellinzona’s city hall) till Piazza Grande, the city hall of Giubiasco. More than 100 stalls sell a wide variety of goods.
The event takes place in September and attracts a large number of visitors.
SEE HERE other itineraries in Ticino
SEE HERE all activities around Lugano