Switzerland is well-known across the world for its neutrality and banking system over the centuries. Well, it also has an extensive range of comfortable manor houses and castles. Since Switzerland has not fought any battle for over 500 years, it goes without saying that the country doesn’t have as many castles and fortresses as other European countries.
When the neutrality of the state was not developed until several hundred years later, Switzerland has been a de facto neutral country for over the centuries.
Another interesting fact is that the country stopped getting involved in wars and battles at the same time as its leading banking system in the world started being developed, i.e., since the 16th century. Hats off to them – the best way to stay away from expensive wars is to conserve funds for several countries. After all, which country would want to attack the nation which secures their money?
All in all, there is another reason to praise them, for example, a handful of beautiful castles in Switzerland. Most of them have jaw-dropping vistas and centuries-old past. If you are looking for the best castles in Switzerland, you are in the right place.
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Top 10 Castles in Switzerland
You can easily recognize Oberhofen Castle with its secluded white spire juts out in the canton of Bern over Lake Thun. The castle is as beautiful on inside as on the outside, especially in the chapel, which is designed well with 15th-century old murals.
There is a park spread over two and a half hectares located next door. It is known to be one of the most serene green gardens across the county. It is loaded with beautiful floral designs and fabulous garden art.
Since 1803, the castle has had several owners and passed several private hands over the years. The Pourtales family expanded and renovated the palace to its current state in the year 1849-52.
The Oberhofen Castle foundation was established by the American William Maul Measy in 1940 to maintain and administer the castle. The Historical Museum of Bern was opened in 1952, and a branch of the museum was also opened around two years later.
The central keep usually dates back to 1200. The rest of this castle in Switzerland was developed over the centuries across the old keep. A chapel was added to the keep’s first floor on the lakeside in the year 1473. At the same time, a tower was probably built in the lake. The lake tower appeared like a castle in the year 1680.
Locally known as Schloss Thun, the Thun Castle was built in the 12th century. It is located at a focal entrance to Bernese Oberland in the city of Thun.
The castle was initially established as the fortress as a symbol of power with the Knight’s Hall, the imposing tower. The Knight’s Hall has been preserved well until today.
It stands today as it was built originally in the 12th century. You can explore all of its five floors, including a prison from 1886, which has become a historical museum.
Located on the banks of Lake Geneva, this medieval fortress is a sight to behold. The Chillon Castle is an authentic site of medieval history with 12th-century foundations. Chillon belonged to the Counts of Savoy from the 12th to 16th centuries.
They monitored the Lake Geneva and its passage of ships, and the roadway to the St. Bernhard Pass. Several noble families had been the owners of the castle. Today, over 350,000 guests are welcomed every year. Chillon is located on a rock covered by water that creates a moat naturally around the castle.
You can find a lot of attractions in Chillon. It has dungeons underground that are cut into rocks which have gothic designs, four courtyards, including the Courtyard of Honor, and the most amazing ceremonial attraction, great halls having the views of Lake Geneva; defenses, a chapel, rooms which were sleeping quarters for noblemen, and more. A small private beach is also located there, and it’s used for special events.
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Located above the Toss River in the Canton of Zurich, the Kyburg Castle Museum is an award-winning hub that served as the throne from early 1027 which emulated the power of noble families who ruled the region over the years – the Habsburgers, the Kyburgers, and the Zurchers.
Since 1865, Kyburg Castle has been the first museum castle in the country when it finally opened for the public. Now, the Museum Schloss Kyburg Society runs the museum, and it has opened a permanent exhibition running since the year 1999.
In 2001, the Garden of High Bailiff Wife was introduced, and a special commendation award was given to the whole exhibit by the European Museum Forum in the year 2002. When starting the tour across the castle, visitors can get to know about daily life in this castle for the past 800 years.
Castles of Bellinzona
These are the group of castles and fortifications around the Bellinzona town or the capital of the Swiss cantonment of Ticino. The group of palaces is located on the foothills of Alpine forests with fortified walls and includes three castles in Switzerland – Montebello, Castelgrande, and Sasso Corbaro.
Castelgrande is positioned on a peak facing the valley, with a range of walls protecting the old city and connecting to Montebello. The highest of three castles, Sasso Corbaro, is located on the separate hilly promontory southeast of the rest of two mansions.
The Bellinzona castles have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with their defensive walls since 2000. Bellinzona castle has always been renowned as a prominent geographic location of the Swiss Alps. The palaces are located only a few km south of Arbedo, the meeting point of Mesa and Ticino.
There are several routes of the Alpine pass which connect northern Europe to southern Europe, including Lukmanier, Nufenen, St. Gotthard, and San Bernardino, converging in the area across the castles. Hence, Bellinzona has become a major trading center.
Castelgrande has been a fortified site since the late 1st century BC. It was the only fortification of Bellinzona until the 13th century. The castle has been renowned as a stronghold during its history (i.e., before the 13th century), the Un Castle after the year 1506, the Old Castle in the 14th to 15th centuries, and St. Michael’s Castle from the year 1818.
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Vufflens Castle is the most admired castle in the Morges region. You can enjoy the serene view of the castle by walking in the vineyards for 30 minutes. Built-in the 15th century, Vufflens Castle is the most exciting epitome of a small fortified castle group of Romandy from the Middle Ages, classified by its brick construction above all. With its donjon, the beautiful edifice towers 60m. It is sadly not open for the public and is privately owned.
You can have an exciting walk of 30 minutes along the vineyards from Dennis to Vufflens-Le Chateau for having a breathtaking view of this serene castle in Switzerland, Mont Blanc, and the lake. You can also walk and hope the train with BAM, linking Apples, Biere, and Morges.
The palace is located beautifully around the Vufflens Vineyard, in the Morges region in Canton of Vaud. It is a small group of Romandy castles in Switzerland with brick construction which dates back to the 15th century.
Tourbillon Castle is located in the canton of Valais in Sion of Switzerland. It faces Basilique de Valere and is situated on a hill. In 1788, the castle was set on fire. But it is still a heritage site of Swiss national significance. Tourbillon Castle was built around 1290 to 1308 by Boniface de Challant, the Bishop of Sion, as his principal residence.
After the death of Boniface in the year 1308, Aymon II de Chatillon, his successor, may have finished the castle. The Upper Valais revolted over Bishop Guichard Tavel in 1352. In November of 1352, they marched and burned the Sion town and besieged the castle unsuccessfully.
The Prince Bishop owned the Majorie Castle in 1373, and he moved the residence over the rocky spire. Bishop Tavel couldn’t live in his new palace for a long time. He was captured and killed by rebels in 1375, which was led by Anton de la Tour, Peter’s son.
Tourbillon became the summer residence of Prince Bishop and remained as a symbol of ecclesiastical and secular power. A rebels’ group attacked Sion in 1384 and captured Majoria and Tourbillon. It was Bishop Eduard of Savoy who urged Count Amadeus VII’s soldiers of Savoy and Bento to retake the castles.
Tarasp Castle of Switzerland is situated around the former municipality of Tarasp located in Lower Engadin of Graubunden. It is moreover declared as a heritage site of Swiss national significance. Tarasp Castle was supposed to be built in the 11th century or as early as the 10th century.
The castle is named after the wild earth of Terra Aspera, which refers to the current lands of the Inn River Valley. In 1089, the castle’s name was adopted when Ulrich von Tarasp was clarified in the papal mandate by the Bishop Chur.
Scuol Monastery was founded around the same time, which moved to Marienberg Abbey later on, as part of their initiative to carve a barony in the high alpine valley which was uninhabited formerly. The castle houses a chapel and a ring wall with a bell tower which was used as a watchtower.
In this site, the first fortifications were the ring wall which belonged to the chapel, as well as the bell tower. A large palas with 6.6 ft. impenetrable walls were built west of the chapel in the 13th century, and it became the center of the castle.
The residential wings of the castle were supposed to be built around the 13th century. The palace was attacked several times in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was burned twice. The residential wings were renovated and rebuilt in particular several times over the centuries. The lower floors had got vaulted ceilings, and new windows were split through rock walls, and they were carved in wood.
In 1714-15, the castle was renovated, and it had again gone through the renovation in the year 1732. The outer walls are capped in white plaster and were designed with the coating of arms associated with the 15th century. In 1900, those paintings were still seen but had since been faded. But a few of them had been restored in the recent projects of restoration.
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Gruyeres Castle is strategically positioned in the historical town of Fribourg. Various noble families owned the structure built from 1270 to 1282 in the square plan of Savoy fortifications. This small town is located in a picture-perfect location that has museums, the castle and a small hill telling its cultural history of over 800 years.
It was first opened to public visits in the year 1938. Visitors can enjoy the medieval tour across the ramparts of the castle, guardrooms, French gardens, and pristine salons.
There are historical treasures in its walls, such as the glass windows from the Middle Ages, the capes of Order of the Golden Fleece, paintings, bespoke frescoes by the bailiffs in the Ancient Regime, and decorations designed by the artists of the 19th century.
The town also had three other museums – Tibet Museum, Maison du Gruyere, and HR Giger Museum.
Located at the most pristine location of Lake Zurich, Rapperswil Castle was built over Lindenhof by the end of the 12th century, and it is stretched towards Rapperswil. The southern flank of the hill, Schlossberg is located where Lake Zurich’s oldest vineyard is found. On the other side, the north flank is a park which houses fallow deer. It also has a kids’ playground.
The Polish Museum was opened in the year 1975 in the castle. Visitors can explore the history behind the cooperation and relationships between Switzerland and Poland. You can have a quick stroll around the medieval wall or even walk on the castle tower to get the serene vistas of ‘City of Roses.’