Bellinzona’s second castle dominates Castelgrande from above on Montebello hill, perched ninety metres above the city.
This is the starting point of the walls that once encircled the ancient hamlet until they encounter those descending San Michele hill. Two sections of these walls, which protected the flanks of the formidable fort, are still standing.
The oldest section dates back to the thirteenth/fourteenth century and is believed to have been erected by the Ruscas, a wealthy family of merchants from Como, who kept it even under the rule of the Visconti. The external courtyards with their towers and the triangular fortress were built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with their current appearance the result of Sforza construction work during the second half of the fifteenth century.
The castle was previously known as Castel Piccolo (“small castle”) (1457-1472), or Montebello Castle. During the Swiss occupation it was renamed Svitto Castle and after 1818 San Martino Castle.
The Ghiringhelli family acquired it towards the end of the eighteenth century. It was later acquired by the Canton in 1903 for the centennial of Ticino independence and restored.
The history of man is recounted in the Archaeological Museum inside the Castle, showcasing archaeological findings unearthed in this region.
Today, above the Prestino, the Ticino Archaeological Association hosts engaging educational activities for schools.
Don’t miss out on the chance to participate in making Castelli di Bellinzona Salami, which is aged right here in the castle!
Outside stop for a leisurely picnic and some healthy fun at our well-equipped playground, or take a photo at the Grand Tour of Switzerland photo spot!
And the view from this castle is absolutely amazing! It can be reached on foot from Piazza Collegiata, from the Nocca neighbourhood, by car on a road that goes from Viale Stazione, on the Artù il Trenino dei Castelli tourist train or on public transport.
Opening hours of the museum and InfoPoint
16.03.2019 - 03.11.2019: from 10.00 to 18.00
04.04.2020: from 10:00 to 18:00
Access to the Castles for persons with reduced mobility is only partial. For more information, please contact the InfoPoint at the Castle.
Partner Ticino Ticket
Thanks to Ticino Ticket you can visit this attraction at a discounted price. Ask the ticket at your hotel, campsite or hostel and find out all the offers you can receive.