If Switzerland is known above all for its mountains, ski resorts and Lake Geneva, its considerable medieval heritage also deserves to be highlighted.
Today, there are more than 500 castles throughout Switzerland, some of which are still owned by the lord family of the time. Our selection invites you to discover the 10 most beautiful castles in the country. A wonderful trip back to the days of the knights on this journey between history and culture!
Shilion Castle, the pearl of Lake Geneva
3 km from Montreux, Chillon Castle rises like a stone ship on Lake Geneva. This huge fortress was built in the 12th century by the House of Savoy on an island 100 meters long and 50 meters wide. The castle tells the story of a whole chapter of Swiss history, with the capture of Bern in 1536 and then Vaudois in 1798. Today, it imposes itself as the most visited historical monument in Switzerland, with more than 400,000 visitors a year.
Château de Chillon, avenue de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from April to October (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from November to March). Admission: CHF 13.50 (CHF 7 for children from 6 to 15 and CHF 11.50 from 60). Website
Bellinzona, the only Swiss fortress on the UNESCO list
The castles of Castelgrande, Montebello and Sasso Corbaro dominate the city of Bellinzona, the capital of Ticino, in a sequence of stages. It was built from the 13th to the 15th century to guard this strategic crossing point between northern and southern Europe. The majestic fortress has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2000 as “a fine example of fortified medieval architecture in the Alps.”
Bellinzona Fortress, 6500 Bellinzona. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from April to October (10:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. from November to March). Admission: 28 Swiss francs for 3 castles (free for children under 6 and 70 Swiss francs for a family package). Website
Château de Gruyères, the move of the Middle Ages
Built in the 13th century by the Counts of Gruyères, Château Gruyères knew how to turn the medieval page to follow styles and eras. After several transformations during the Baroque period, the castle became an artists’ colony in the 19th century, receiving in particular the French painter Camille Corot. A tradition that continues today, as the castle hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions dedicated to contemporary artists.
Château de Gruyères, rue du Château 8, 1663 Gruyères. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from April to October (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from November to March). Admission: 12 CHF (4 CHF for children from 6 to 15 years and 8 CHF from 60 years). Website
Château de Grandson, citadel of warriors
Located on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel, Château de Grandson looks very peaceful today. However, it was the scene of a merciless war against Charles the Bold and the Swiss confederates from 1474 to 1477. The castle still bears the scars of the siege and bloody battle of 1476. The main reconstruction work will begin in autumn, until 2026, but the castle will remain open. In addition, visitors will be able to learn about the crafts of various craftsmen who will intervene on the construction site.
Château de Grandson, place du château, 1422 Grandson. It works every day from 10:00 to 18:00. Entrance: 10 Swiss francs (for children from 6 to 18 years – 5 Swiss francs). Website
Thun Castle, a sign of power
Thun Castle was built around 1200 by the Dukes of Zeringen, but no one ever lived there. The castle was above all a show of strength, as was its impressive fortress with 4 towers. In 1888, the castle was turned into a museum, and it housed the regional prison… Since then, the prison closed its doors, and now the museum occupies 5 large rooms of the fortress, including the impressive room of the knights. Among the exhibits: a heraldic tapestry stolen from the Burgundians in 1476.
Thun Castle, Schlosberg 1, 3600 Thun. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from April to October (from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. from November to March). Admission: 10 CHF (3 CHF for children from 6 to 16). Website
Lenzburg Castle, Dragon’s Lair
Lenzburg Castle is located between Basel and Zürich, which has received the title of the largest castle in Switzerland. It is also one of the oldest: the first mention of this Aargau fortress dates back to 1077. The whole remains beautifully preserved and well organized, from the kitchens to the 17th century prison. Children are not forgotten with a floor just for them. The bravest can even meet Fauci, the castle’s legendary dragon!
Lenzburg Castle, 5600 Lenzburg. It is open every day, except Monday, from April 1 to October 31 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission: CHF 5 without the museum or CHF 14 with the museum (CHF 2.50 or CHF 8 for children from 4 to 16). Website
Munot’s fortress in Schaffhausen, guardian of the Rhine
Munot Fortress was built in the 16th century to protect the city of Schaffhausen and monitor traffic on the Rhine. To get there from the old town, you have to find the entrance by a narrow staircase that climbs steeply through the vines. Visitors will be rewarded for their efforts with an unprecedented view of the Rhine! In the summer, the fortress comes alive with open-air movie screenings and opera evenings. There is still a guard in the tower who rings the Muno bell every night at 9:00 PM for 5 minutes.
Munot’s Fortress, Munotstieg 17, 8200 Schaffhausen. It works every day from 9:00 to 20:00. Free entrance. Website
Château d’Aigle, a passion for wine
In the heart of a magnificent vineyard at the foot of the Alps, this castle, built by the House of Savoy in the 12th century, turned its back on its military purpose. Since 1970, the Museum of Vine and Wine has been operating there, which tells the story of local viticulture. The collection includes more than 10,000 exhibits: presses, distillers, corkscrews, decanters… The museum is also interested in wine labels from around the world, 1,000 labels are displayed thematically, and the general fund includes more than 400,000 labels.
Château d’Aigle, place du château 1, 1860 Aigle. Open every day, except Monday, from 10:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 from November to March). Admission: 11 CHF (5 CHF for children from 6 to 16). Website
Château de Tourbillon, cursed ruins
Tourbillon Castle was built on the highest hill in Sion in the 13th century for Bishop Boniface de Chalant and his successors. A peaceful eagle’s nest overlooking the Rhone Valley. However, its fortunes were stormy, suffering violent uprisings in the 15th century and a fire in 1788. Saved from destruction in the 19th century and classified as a historical monument, the castle is now patiently being restored. Do not miss the painted decorations in the chapel.
Château de Tourbillon, Place Maurice Zermatten, 1950 Sion. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from May to September (from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from March 15 to April 30 and from October 1 to November 15). Free entrance. Website
Stockalper Castle, a little baroque madness
Stockalper Castle was built between 1651 and 1671 in Brig, Upper Valais, by Kaspar Stockalper, an entrepreneur of many hats and an influential politician. His colossal wealth and power earned him the nickname “King of the Simplon”. The baroque castle is dominated by 3 amazing granite towers topped with golden bulbs and named after the Three Kings. At the foot of the castle is a luxurious French garden dotted with roses.
Stockalper Castle, Alte Simplonstrasse 28, 3900 Brig. The museum is open every day except Monday from 9:15 to 11:45 and from 1:15 to 4:45 from May to October (Thursday from 1 to 3:00 from January to April). Website
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