Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona
Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona
The Bellinzona 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.
Trois châteaux, muraille et remparts du bourg de Bellinzone
Le site de Bellinzone est composé d'un ensemble de fortifications centré sur le château de Castelgrande qui se dresse au sommet d'un rocher surplombant la vallée du Tessin. Depuis ce château, une série de fortifications protège l'ancienne ville et barre la vallée du Tessin. Le deuxième château (Montebello) est intégré au dispositif fortifié ; un troisième château isolé (Sasso Corbaro) a été construit sur un promontoire au sud-est de l'ensemble.
ثلاثة قصور وسور وأسوار مدينة بيلينزون
يتألف موقع بيلينزون من مجموعة حصون محيطة بقصر كاستل غراندي المتربع على قمة صخرة مطلة على وادي تيسين. وتقوم سلسلة من الحصون انطلاقاً من القصر بحماية المدينة القديمة وبسد وادي تيسين. ويندمج القصر الثاني (مونتيبيلو) في المجموعة المحصّنة بينما يرتفع القصر الثالث المنعزل (ساسو كوربارو) على صخرة شاهقة جنوب شرق المجموعة.
Три замка, крепостные стены и валы торгового города Беллинцона
Архитектурный комплекс Беллинцоны состоит из группы укреплений, сосредоточенных вокруг замка Кастельгранде, который, будучи расположен на скалистом возвышении, контролировал всю долину реки Тичино. Отходящие от замка крепостные стены защищали Старый город и перекрывали проход по долине. Второй замок – Монтебелло - составлял часть оборонительной системы, а третий, стоящий отдельно, замок Сассо-Корбаро был построен на изолированной скалистой возвышенности к юго-востоку от остальных укреплений.
Tres castillos, murallas y defensas del burgo de Bellinzona
El sitio de Bellinzona comprende un conjunto de fortificaciones construidas en torno al castillo de Castelgrande, erigido en lo alto de una cima rocosa que domina el valle del Tesino. De este primer castillo parte una línea de murallas que protege la ciudad vieja y cierra el paso del valle. Un segundo castillo, el de Montebello, forma parte de este mismo dispositivo de defensa. El tercer castillo es el de Sasso Corbaro, que se yergue aislado en lo alto de un promontorio rocoso situado al sureste del burgo fortificado.
Drie kastelen, verdedigingsmuur en versterkingen van de marktstad Bellinzona
De marktstad Bellinzona bestaat uit een groep versterkingen gegroepeerd rond het kasteel van Castelgrande. Dit kasteel staat op een rotsachtige piek met uitzicht over de hele Ticino vallei. Vanuit het kasteel is er een reeks verdedigingsmuren, bekend als de Murata. Ze beschermden de oude stad en blokkeerden de doorgang naar de Ticino vallei. Het tweede kasteel, Montebello, maakt deel uit van de versterkingen. Het derde kasteel, Sasso Corbaro, is gebouwd op een geïsoleerde rotsachtige kaap ten zuidoosten van de andere vestingen. Recente opgravingen hebben aangetoond dat het gebied al in de neolithische periode werd bewoond.
Outstanding Universal Value
The fortified ensemble of Bellinzona located in the canton of Ticino in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, south of the Alps, is the only visible example in the entire Alpine Arc of medieval military architecture comprising several castles, linked by a wall that once closed off the whole Ticino Valley, and the ramparts which surrounded the town for the protection of the civilian population.
Bellinzona thus constitutes an exceptional case among the greatest fortifications of the 15th century, both by the dimension of its architecture, influenced by the site and topography, and by the excellent state of conservation of the ensemble.
The origin of Bellinzona is linked to the strategic situation of the site that controls, by the Ticino Valley access to the principal Alpine pass constituting the passage into the Milanese, in fact, the whole of north Italy to the regions located farther north to the Danube and beyond.
The ensemble comprises three castles and a network of fortifications with towers and defence works that command the Ticino Valley and dominate the town centre.
Criterion (iv): The fortified ensemble of Bellinzona is an outstanding example of the late medieval defensive structure guarding a key strategic Alpine pass.
The fortifications of Bellinzona have conserved intact their typical aspect of the late Middle Ages. Putting aside substantial losses to the wall and the ramparts of the town, the property comprises the ensemble of the conserved defensive works (castles, wall and ramparts) and thus retains all the requisite elements to express its Outstanding Universal Value.
The authenticity of the property is clearly witnessed by the numerous documents concerning its evolution. However, it has been affected to a certain degree by reconstructions, in particular the crowning of the walls, while the majority of the built substance is original and bears witness to developments over time. The use of the site is today cultural (museum, visits to the castles); the fortifications however represent a strong signification for the urban landscape and cultural environment.
Protection and management requirements
The property has legal protection at all State levels. The three castles, the Murata and the buffer zone are protected by the Degree of 18 May 1926 and amended on 23 October 1962 by the Council of State of the Canton of Ticino: all the fortifications are shown in the land development plan for the territory of the Bellinzona Commune as monuments of cantonal and national interest and thus benefitting from all the instruments of protection provided in both federal and cantonal legislation in force, avoiding any risk of abuse.
A Convention concerning the management of the Bellinzona castles, signed by the Council of State of the Canton of Ticino, the town of Bellinzona and the Bellinzona Tourism Board, grants the Tourism Board the responsibility for the management of the castles, according to a coordinated concept of use that aims to valorise the heritage monuments from a cultural and a tourism perspective.
The mandate of the Tourism Board is threefold in nature and comprises: a) the valorisation of the monumental complex through adequate cultural and touristic promotion; b) the administration of the property and areas in function of their dual character of public and World Heritage property; c) the maintenance of the buildings and movable heritage based on the indications of the cantonal services.
The Canton conserves the ownership of the property with its important maintenance costs and allocates an annual lump sum to the management, whilst conserving the right of use of the castles. The Canton is responsible for the conservation and the surveillance of the monumental complex as a protected cultural property.
The town of Bellinzona provides services of different nature and allocates financial contributions towards management costs (water, electricity, waste water and rubbish).
To control and coordinate all the activities linked to the management and exploitation of the castles, a permanent commission was established, comprising six members designated by the signatories of the Convention.
In particular, this commission ensures liaison with the different institutional officers, is responsible for controlling the provisions of the Convention (with the possibility of calling upon political parties and signalling all serious violations), the preparation of regulations for the use of the castles, the elaboration of requisite guidelines to ensure an efficient cultural promotion and the supervision of the calendar of events. It also has the task of controlling and planning the necessary investments for the maintenance of the castles involving all the actors of the Convention.
Improvements for visitors, notably those made at the Castel Grande, a site of superior architectural quality, must maintain the delicate balance between authenticity of the site and an excessive concern for its presentation.
The fortified ensemble of Bellinzone is a unique example of European architecture erected in defence of the feudal structure guarding a key strategic Alpine pass. The Bellinzone ensemble is the sole remaining example in the entire Alpine region of medieval military architecture, comprising three castles, a wall that once closed off the whole Ticino valley, and the ramparts which surrounded the town for the protection of its citizens. Bellinzone owes its origins to its strategic position controlling access, via the Ticino valley, to the main Alpine passes into the Milanese, i.e. the whole north of Italy.
Recent excavations have shown that the site was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period. It was a Roman outpost until the frontiers of the empire were pushed further north to the Danube. Under pressure from barbarian inroads from the north, Bellinzone once again became a defensive stronghold against the peoples streaming down from the plains of central Europe. In the troubled days of the declining Roman Empire, the site fell into the hands of the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, and finally the Lombards.
In the 10th century, Bellinzone formed part of the possessions of Otto I, founder of the Holy Roman Empire. The earliest constructions still extant probably date from around this period. Around the year 1000, the castle and the county were granted by the emperor to the Bishop of Como. It was at this period that the interior of the castle of Castelgrande was divided up to accommodate houses, turning it into a small fortified town. In the 12th century, Frederick Barbarossa took possession of the fortress. The town grew up gradually around the citadel and the fortifications were improved. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the town expanded around the castle. The Castle of Montebello was built around 1300 and soon incorporated into the system of fortifications. The Castle of Sasso Corbaro built in 1480 to the south-east of Castelgrande.
Bellinzone became part of the state of Milan under the rule of the Visconti, who strengthened its defences considerably and began the construction of a wall running from Castelgrande to block the Ticino valley: the wall was known as the Murata.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Bellinzone fell to the confederates, and the fortifications lost much of their importance but were not destroyed. In 1803, Castelgrande was used as prison and an arsenal. The modern town developed at the expense of the ramparts. In 1882, the arsenal was extended. In the 20th century the major restoration work began. The ensemble of three castles and a network of fortifications are: Castelgrande (Château d'Uri, Château Saint-Michel), Château de Montebello (Château de Schwyz, Château Saint-Martin); and Château de Sasso Corbaro (Château d'Unterwald, Château Sainte-Barbara).
The Castelgrande is the largest of the three fortresses and dominates the town from its rocky eminence with its two towers, known as the White and Black Towers respectively. The spacious interior is divided by internal walls radiating out from the Black Tower into three courtyards. The White Tower, to the east, is surrounded by its own set of fortifications, known as the Redoubt. The arsenal consists of a series of massive buildings on the western side of the south courtyard. The enceinte has two chapels, but only their foundations still survive. Montebello Castle lies on a rocky spur to the east of Castelgrande, with which it is linked by the town walls; unlike Castelgrande, it is surrounded by deep moats. Its core is the central keep, from the end of the 13th century, which was given additional protection in the form of new defensive walls in the mid-14th and late 15th centuries. Sasso Corbaro Castle does not form part of the defensive perimeter of Bellinzone: it covers a vulnerable approach route. It is square in plan, the keep jutting out on the north-eastern corner and rising slightly above the level of the crenellated walls. Some two-thirds of the original line of the Town Ramparts still survive, with interval towers, but the gates have disappeared.Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Bellinzone owes its origins to its strategic position controlling access, via the Ticino valley, to the main Alpine passes into the Milanese, ie the whole north of Italy and on into other northern regions up to the Danube and beyond.
Recent excavations have shown that the site was inhabited as early as the Neolithic period. It was a Roman outpost until the frontiers of the Empire were pushed further north to the Danube. Under pressure from barbarian inroads from the north, Bellinzone once again became a defensive stronghold against the peoples streaming down from the plains of central Europe. In the troubled days of the declining Roman Empire, the site fell into the hands of the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, and finally the Lombards.
The excavations also showed that the fortress suffered a fire around the year 800. In the 10th century, Bellinzone formed part of the possessions of Otto I, founder of the Holy Roman Empire. The earliest constructions still extant probably date from around this period. Around the year 1000 the castle and the county were granted by the emperor to the Bishop of Como. It was at this period that the interior of the castle of Castelgrande was divided up to accommodate houses, turning it into a small fortified town.
In the 12th century, Frederick Barbarossa took possession of the fortress. The town grew up gradually around the citadel and the fortifications were improved. Between the 13th and 15th centuries, the town expanded around the castle. The castle of Montebello was built around 1300, and soon incorporated into the system of fortifications. The castle of Sasso Corbaro, built in 1480 to the south-east of Castelgrande, also forms part of the system of defences, but was destined to remain separate from the network of fortifications.
Bellinzone became part of the state of Milan under the rule of the Visconti. From the early 15th century onwards, Bellinzone came under attack from the Swiss confederates who sought to capture it. The Visconti strengthened its defences considerably and began the construction of a wall running from Castelgrande to block the Ticino valley: the wall was known as the Murata. More work was launched on Castelgrande, the hub of the system of defences, in order to rationalize the scheme of fortifications. The tripartite division of the courtyard was finalized and the courtyard cleared of the houses which still encumbered it, while the constructions on the south flank were connected to the castle. From this stronghold stretched a series of ramparts to protect the city and make it possible to control the movement of travellers through the valley.
At the beginning of the 16th century, Bellinzone fell to the confederates, and the fortifications lost much of their importance but were not destroyed. In 1515 the Ticino flooded and swept away a large part of the Murata.
From the 16th century onwards, history began to pass the stronghold by. In 1803, Castelgrande was used as prison and an arsenal. The modern town developed at the expense of the ramparts. In 1882, the arsenal was extended.
The 20th century brought belated recognition of the historical value of the site and major restoration work began.Source: Advisory Body Evaluation
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