Well-fortified sites

Sasso Corbaro, Montebello, Castelgrande are the sweet-sounding names of the three castles in Bellinzona. They are depicted on two special stamps designed in the context of the PostEurop competition.

Each year, the participating postal administrations design their entries based on a theme chosen by PostEurop. On each occasion, Swiss Post issues two stamps in a sheet. One of these has been ntered into PostEurop's international online competition. The competition will run from 9 May to 31 August 2017 at posteurop.org/europa2017.

Bellinzona's castles and their fortified walls form part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Their history dates back to the Palaeolithic Period. In the Middle Ages, they were initially intended to prevent the Swiss from gaining ground to the south. But in 1503, Bellinzona chose to withdraw from Milanese rule and instead joined the Swiss Confederation. In the following years the fortresses were used against the south.

Castelgrande – depicted on the right-hand stamp – is the oldest of the three castles and was first mentioned in 590. From 1506 it became the seat of the federal governors of Canton Uri.

Castello Montebello is the fortification in the middle. It was built towards the end of the 13th century, just as the Gotthard Pass was becoming the most important route across the Alps. It was home to the governors of Canton Schwyz.

Castello di Sasso Corbaro, shown on the left, is the smallest and newest of the three castles, but enjoys the most elevated position. In 1506 the castle fell into the hands of Canton Nidwalden and remained there until it was passed on to the newly founded Canton Ticino in 1803.

Jürg Freudiger

Tile image: © OTR Bellinzonese e Alto Ticino