Defensive Wall and Ramparts
of the Market-Town of Bellinzona (2000)
Back to index
The Bellinzone site consists of a group of fortifications grouped around the castle of Castelgrande, which stands on a rocky peak looking out over the entire Ticino valley. Running from the castle, a series of fortified walls protect the ancient town and block the passage through the valley. A second castle (Montebello) forms an integral part of the fortifications, while a third but separate castle (Sasso Corbaro) was built on an isolated rocky promontory south-east of the other fortifications.
The narrow valley at Bellinzona played an important strategic role as long ago as 15 B.C. at the time of the Roan Empire under Augustus, because many pass trails met there. The fortress of Castel Grande was built on a ridge of rock as early as the 4th century A.D., and in the following centuries was of importance in the northern campaigns of the rulers of Milan.
Switzerland 2004. UNESCO-stamp featuring Tre Castelli Bellinzona.
Republique Centrafricaine 2005. Bellinzona, Grand Chateau. Scan by courtesy of Mr. Miomir Zivkovic (Serbia & Montenegro).
Castel Grande in Bellinzona is today used for training the Swiss Guard, who are the papal soldiers of the Vatican. On April 7, 2006, members of the Swiss Guard began a ceremonial march from Switzerland to Rome, retracing the route followed by the original members of the Vatican corps when they were recruited by Pope Julius II in 1506. They will arrive in Rome for the annual ceremonies at which new recruits are sworn in to the Swiss Guard at the Vatican on May 6. The Vatican military unit celebrates May 6 as the anniversary of the day when 147 members of the Swiss Guard died in a successful defense of the Pope during the sack of Rome in 1527. The two stamps shown below are forerunners for a joint issue between Switzerland and the Vatican, scheduled for April 2006, commemorating the Swiss Guard's 500th anniversary as the Papal Guards.
Switzerland 2005. Two maximum cards, franked each with one of the stamps below, with focus on the traditional Swiss Guard uniform. The stamps and the cards were designed by the Swiss artist Rudolf Mirer, who himself served in the Swiss Guard in the Vatican for two years.
Switzerland 2005. Two stamps featuring the Swiss Guards, dressed in colourful Renaissance uniforms of the "Medici Colours" (yellow, red and blue).
The Dukes of Milan built the Castello di Montebello in the 13th century, and the Castello di Sasso Corbaro came in the 15th century. The three castles are now the only remaining examples of mediaeval fortifications in Switzerland.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Switzerland (on this website). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Switzerland-section, for more information about the individual properties,
Back to index
Revised 21 jul 2006