Top 5 castles in Switzerland you need to see

These five castles in one of Europe's most picturesque countries will definitely blow your mind away.
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As the world is gradually coming to senses following the year of COVID pandemic, travel is slowly re-starting. Read this story to get an idea of what you need to see if you plan to go to Switzerland.

1. Chateau de Chillon

Where: Canton of Vaud
This castle is an absolute must for every history lover! Located on the Geneva Lake (or Lac Leman as it's called in French), this beautiful castle offers an incredible mix of history and architecture. Chateau de Chillon has gained world-wide fame thanks to British poet Lord Byron who was so inspired by a story of an inmate kept in the castle that he wrote his famous poem The Prisoner of Chillon.
The castle dates back to the 12th c. when this land belonged to the Counts of Savoy. They controlled the path between the Alps and the lake. By the 13th c. the counts took under their control even more lands, which are now a huge chunk of French-speaking part of Switzerland. By that time, they made the castle their summer residence, expanded and reinforced it. However, it was abandoned some 100 years later and that when the Bernese seized it. They upgraded it militarily and for the next two and a half centuries the castle became a mighty fortress with an arsenal and a prison. When the Canton of Vaud was set up in the 19th c. the castle became its property and restoration was launched. Picture by @mindz.eye

2. Castelgrande

Where: Canton of Ticino
Originally built in the 13th c., Castelgrande is only one of the three fortresses of Bellinzona - the capital of the Swiss canton of Ticino on the Alpine foothills. The castle's iconic towers – Torre Nera and Torre Bianca - stand on the rocky San Michele hill overlooking the valley.
Castelgrande's walls protected the old city and connected to the nearby castle of Montebello. The hill has been fortified for many centuries. The castle was expanded many times with defenses being built to follow the natural shape of the hill. It is believed that the castle complex once consisted of many buildings, most of which were pulled down by the Dukes of Milan. It was done to free up interior space as 3 large baileys offered temporary housing for troops that could be stationed in Bellinzona. Together with the 2 other castles – Montebello and Sasso Corbaro - the complex was listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Photo by @best.of.ticino

3. Schloss Oberhofen

Where: Canton of Bern
One of the gems of this magnificent castle is the Oriental smoking room at the top of the keep – imagine the spectacular view of the lake Thun and mountains. The castle was built around the 13th c. and oldest part of the castle – its keep – dates back to those old times. The palace and a chapel were built some 200 years later. The castle belonged to the House of Habsburgs for a short period of time only to be retaken by the Bernese who occupied Oberhofen in the 14th c. Since that time, it has become the seat of a bailiff who governed the region and was appointed by the government of canton of Bern.
The castle got a major overhaul by the 17th c. In 1844 the castle became a summer residence of the noble Pourtalès family from Neuchatel and Prussia who took good care of the complex. They made a large park on the shore of the lake and renovated the buildings. The little tower which stand rights in the lake was adorned with a spire. Photo by @wl_swissphotography

4. Schloss Tarasp

Where: Canton of Graubünden
You know Not Vital, right? It's his castle. Just take a look at this imposing fortress on a cliff! Tarasp Castle which dates back to the 11th c. or even earlier was initially just a ring wall protecting a chapel and a bell tower that also served as a watch tower. A large palace was built some 200 years later. The castle had long been the only Austrian castle in Switzerland, actually till the early 19th c. when it was seized and given to the Helvetic Republic and later on to the Canton of Graubünden – this is when its decline started.
Actually some 200 years prior to this the castle survived two major blazes – the first one when local Protestants set it on fire and the second one when it was struck by a bolt of lightning. Restoration works were completed early in 20th c. by a private owner who died suddenly and failed to reside in the castle. His heir turned it into a museum. And as I mentioned in the very beginning, in 2016 world famous multitalented multidisciplinary artist Not Vital bought it for some 7.9mn Swiss francs. Photo by @fotobyheart

5. Chateau d'Aigle

Where: Canton of Vaud
Today it houses a museum of wine and wine labels but back in the 11thc. it was just a watch tower used by local barons. By the middle of the 15th c. Chateau de Aigle had all the features of a proper castle like a keep, a curtain wall and turrets. The Swiss Confederation had longed for this castle as it guarded passes to the Rhone Valley. Success was achieved in the end of the 15th c. as its troops destroyed the Aigle castle and brought it under Bern's control. For almost 200 years the castle was used as a cantonal prison. Photo by @nayara_lemoss
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