If you love castles, you should know that in Switzerland you can find some that are incredibly well-preserved. This ranges from huge fortresses to really elegant palaces. Swiss castles stand out as some of the most visited of Switzerland’s attractions. It actually seems like there is a beautiful castle right around the corner just waiting for you to visit, no matter what chalet in Switzerland you choose to stay at.
Most of Switzerland’s castles were built during the Middle Ages, but most timeframes and architectures are present. If you want to visit some, the following are surely among the very best to consider.
Balm Castle was built by Lord von Oberhofen during the Middle Ages. In the year 1306, the owners of the time, the von Eschenbach family, ended up being forced to sell both Oberhofen and the castle to Habsburgs. Time passed, and ownership of the Oberhofen Castle kept changing. What you can visit right now is the responsibility of the Pourtales family that renovated and even expanded it. In the year 1952, Oberhofen Castle was included in the Historical Museum of Bern.
The site at Castelgrande started to be fortified from the beginning of the first century BC. It marked the only fortification present in Bellinzona till the thirteenth century. Along with history, this castle was known under different names, including Old Castle, Un Castle, Saint Michael’s Castle and The Stronghold. You can reach Castelgrande through an elevator that takes you from the base of the mountain up to castle grounds. Alternatively, you can start your trip from the center of the city and go through narrow and steep streets taking you to castle grounds. If you decide to visit, be sure that you check out the on-site museum since it holds some unique Neolithic items you will not see anywhere else.
Valere Basilica is also known as Valere Castle. This name is much more appropriate since we talk about a church that was fortified and is located in Sion. It was placed on a hill and does face Castle of Tourbillon, which is placed right on the opposite hill. This Swiss heritage site has national significance. The organ that you find in the Valere Basilica’s west side is said to have been built in the year 1435. This makes it one of the oldest in the world that still works. Pipes are arranged in a way that they form a church outline, with larger pipes being 2 towers and smaller pipes forming a church roof-like structure. If you are lucky enough to hear the organ played, you will be impressed.
This castle tower was built during the thirteenth century by members of the house of Rapperswil. Grynau Castle played an important part of history since it was strategically placed right over a vital river crossing area between the House of Toggenburg and Grafschaft Rapperswil. The main tower is five stories high and has a foundation that has a thickness of over 2 meters.
This palace was built between the years 1658 and 1678. Kaspar Stockalper was the person responsible. He was a silk merchant, so the palace was actually the largest Switzerland private construction when it was erected. Because of this and of the appearance, Stockalper Palace is now an important heritage site. Guided tours are held at the moment, allowing tourists to see most of the building.
Castle Tarasp is the most impressive structure in Upper Engadine. Until the year 1803, the castle was under Austrian ownership. It was the sight of numerous battles, but nobody managed to capture it. Karl August Lingner, renowned as he invented the Odol mouthwash, bought the castle in 1900. He went on to completely restore it and ever since the year 1919 Tarasp Castle is open to interested visitors. You can see the ballrooms and knights’ halls, the chapel, its 2,500 pipes organ, and many old bedrooms. Guided tours and public organ concerts are held.
Castles Of Bellinzona
Just as the name implies, this is a group of different fortifications that are located around Bellinzona. It is the capital of Ticino and is situated in a lovely foothills Alpine setting. The Castles Of Bellinzona are made out of 3 castles and fortified walls. The castles are Sasso Corbaro, Montebello and Castelgrande. As a whole, they were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000.
This island castle is perfectly located right on the scenic Lake Geneva. You most likely already heard about the castle as it is one of the most visited in the entire country and even on the continent. From the castle, there is access to the Rhone Alpine valley, and the structure started as an outpost for the Roman army. It guarded a strategic road that took traders through Alpine passes. The main goal of the structure was defensive, but eventually, it turned into a prison. Chillon Castle became popular because of Lord Byron and his “The Prisoner of Chillon” poem written about Francois de Bonivard.
The impressive Vufflens Castle was erected in 1425 right on top of another medieval castle. The initial structure was financed by Henri de Colombier, and the first on-site castle appeared at the orders of the Vufflens lords. While the original structure no longer exists due to a 1530 fire set by the Bernese troops, in the year 1641 the de Senarclens family bought it and rebuilt everything, with many extra additions. While the castle cannot be visited right now as it is privately owned, it is still among the most impressive in Switzerland.