Looking for the best castles in Switzerland?
The history of Switzerland in Central Europe, has been constantly connected with wars since Ancient Roman times. There have been many that wished to connect these lands to their possessions.
The best interest in the Alpine valleys arose during the Middle Ages once they were at the crossroads of important trade routes. This led to the fact that castles, fortresses and other defensive structures were built almost everywhere in Switzerland. Today, castles are some of the best places to visit in Switzerland.
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Are there any Castles in Switzerland?
Many Swiss castles have survived to the present day and are of great interest to tourists. The biggest number of the best castles in Switzerland, similarly to fortresses and ruins, has been preserved within the cantons of Graubünden, Bern, and Basel-Land. However, there are also many castles in other regions.
You can find a stunning castle in Geneva or a splendid castle in Lausanne. All castles of Switzerland can really impress.
Best Castles in Switzerland Map
Amazing Swiss Castles
There are dozens of famous castles in Switzerland. Each has its own history and legend. Lots of them are preserved in their original form. Some are included in the UNESCO list.
They look like fairy tales, so children especially prefer to visit them. Many of those castles are open to the public. Here you may find the list of most amazing Swiss castles for your trip around Switzerland with kids.
1. Tourbillon Castle
Tourbillon Castle is located in the southwest of Switzerland in the canton of Valais, the city of Sion and is one of the most famous Swiss castles.
The building was sometime between 1290 and 1308 by Bishop Boniface Shallan and was used as a fortress against frequent attacks.
Due to the fire in 1417, the building was seriously damaged, and most of the premises were destroyed, but Bishop Guillaume VI of Raron could reconstruct it. However, another fire in 1788 destroyed the castle. Only frescoes from two hundred years ago remained intact, as well as the main tower with a castle wall.
2. Château de Chillon
Chillon Castle is located on a small rocky island in Lake Geneva near the resort of Montreux in one of the most beautiful countries of Europe. It is connected with the mainland by a bridge and is one of the best castles in Switzerland.
The castle was built in the middle of the 12th century to protect trade routes along the eastern shore of Lake Geneva.
By the end of the 16th century, the castle had lost its strategic role and was turned into a prison.
Every year the castle attracts lots of tourists because of the famous poem of Byron, The Prisoner of Chillon, which he wrote after visiting the castle in 1816. Also, Chateau de Chillon became the setting for the works of Dumas, Shelley, and Victor Hugo.
Read More – How to Get from Lucerne to Geneva
3. Aigle Castle
Aigle Castle is one of the most picturesque places in Switzerland. The history of the castle is very rich. Initially, it served as a watchtower.
Over time, the fortification expanded and gradually turned into a full-fledged fortress, which housed the headquarters of the governor. And the castle itself becomes the administrative centre.
During the 18th century and 19th centuries, a homeless shelter, a prison and a city court were located here.
Today, the castle is surrounded by dozens of vineyards that produce the best Swiss wine. It is for this reason that the Vine and Wine Museum is at the same location, which you can also visit.
4. Rapperswil Castle
The castle was built back in the 13th century by Rudolf of Rapperswil to control the waterway from Zurich. The castle is in the southwestern part of Saint Gallen canton, on Lake Zurich. The complex is made in the form of a triangle, at the corners of which there are three towers for observation and defensive operations.
There is a nice playground for the kids, and interesting workshops are frequently organized.
5. Oberhofen Castle
This castle is one of Switzerland’s most important cultural and historical heritage. It is located within the canton of Bern (one of the most beautiful cities in Switzerland), on the shores of Lake Thun. The castle’s development was started by order of Duke Walther von Eschenbach.
It is one of the oldest castles in Switzerland, the official date of construction is 1130, and one of the most beautiful medieval castles.
Numerous tourists and visitors are attracted by the well preserved rich interior decoration, unusual style of architecture, and the eventful history of the building.
6. Habsburg Castle
Habsburg Castle is located on a hilltop surrounded by the Alps and is the birthplace of the Habsburg dynasty – one of the leading European monarchic families.
The castle was built in 1030 and has survived to this day almost in its original form.
In 1979, a museum was equipped in the castle premises, which houses an exposition dedicated to the history of its construction and the life of the local population in the Middle Ages. There is a tavern with tables for visitors in the Knights’ and Gothic halls.
7. Jegenstorf Castle
Jegenstorf Castle is a magnificent aristocratic mansion located in the Canton of Bern and is one of the best castles in Switzerland. The exact date of construction of the house is not known, but the castle is mentioned in possession of Berthold II, who died in 1111.
During its long history, the house has changed many noble owners. In 1720, the castle was renovated in the Baroque style.
The castle is located just 15 km away from one of the most beautiful capital cities in Europe, Bern. During WWII, it was the headquarters of the commander of the Swiss army.
Currently, the castle houses the Bernese Interior Museum of the 17th century – 19th century, which presents a magnificent exposition of antique furniture, paintings and other interior decorations.
- The exact date of construction of the house is not known, but the castle is mentioned in possession of Berthold II, who died in 1111.
- During its long history, the house has changed many noble owners.
- In 1720, the castle was renovated in the Baroque style.
- The castle is located just 15 km away from Bern.
- During WWII, it was the headquarters of the commander of the Swiss army.
- Currently, it houses the Bernese Interior Museum of the 17th century – 19th century, with an exposition of antique furniture, paintings, and other interior decorations.
8. Sasso Corbaro Castle
This castle is part of the three castles of Bellinzona – a complex of buildings that are located in the canton of Ticino, around Bellinzona.
Since 2000 they have been included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Even though the structure’s outer walls are perfectly preserved, there is not a single medieval building inside it. Nowadays, the castle has a museum. The most famous room is a “wooden hall” in the observation tower, lined with walnuts.
9. Tarasp castle
Tarasp Castle is located on a high mountain hill. During its history, the castle was subjected to many sieges, but still, it was never taken by storm.
This unusual spiral fortress belonged to Austria most of the time and until the beginning of the 19th century.
The past centuries were merciless to this majestic architectural structure, gradually falling apart.
Only at the beginning of the last century, when Karl August Linger acquired the dilapidated building, did its major begin.
Get the guided tour – you will learn captivating facts about the castle!
10. Thun castle
An ancient castle Schloss Thun was built in 1190, and these days is a museum. Here you will feel like you are in an ancient chivalric romance and admire the ancient furniture, tapestries, and dishes.
One of the halls is reserved for the exposition of the prison room with torture instruments. Adults will be interested, but it is better not to bring children here. But kids will also have what to see! A hall with a large exposition of toys is designed especially for children.
Climbing a spiral staircase with a rope railing to the castle towers is no less interesting and even more exciting. The panorama is wonderful – the Alps, snowy peaks, Mount Niesen, and Lake Thunersee.
11. Spiez Castle
Spiez Castle is in the old town of Spiez. It is one of the oldest castles in the country. In the past, this building, erected by order of the King of Burgundy, served exclusively as the residence of the aristocracy and was never defensive.
Many influential families living here ennobled and completed the construction of the castle at their discretion. Here was a beautiful garden, vineyards, a church, and the main tower.
In the gallery, you can see portraits of all its former inhabitants, as well as appreciate the luxury of life at that time. But the most important thing is the unique view from the windows of the banquet hall to one of the most beautiful places in Switzerland – Lake Thun at the foot of the mountains.
12. Gruyere Castle
This castle is located in a medieval town, Gruyeres and is one of the best castles in Switzerland. The name of the castle comes from Grus, which adorns the town’s coat of arms and, therefore, the family coat of arms of the Counts of Gruyères.
It was their private residence for a few centuries, from the 11th to the 16th century. After the bankruptcy of the subsequent count, the castle changed owners several times until finally, it was bought out by the canton of Friborg.
The castle harmoniously combines the architectural varieties of eight centuries, from the first Middle Ages to the Baroque. The castle is located 35 km from Friborg and 40 km from Vevey.
The famous Gruyere cheese is produced within the vicinity of the castle and only from July to September.
13. Chateau Ste-Maire
Saint-Maire Castle is one of the most beautiful among Lausanne castles. It is located in the historic quarter of the city next to the Cathedral.
The construction of the building began at the end of the 14th century and continued for 35 years. The fortress got its name from the monastery named after St. Mary.
In 1396, an order was issued by the Pope to move the monastery to another place, and a castle was built on its territory, which provided security for the bishops.
The palace was built in the form of a rectangle with a four-sided roof. The height of the building is 25 meters. The upper part of the castle is made of red brick; the lower part is made of light stone. Turrets complete the picture with a cone-shaped roof. The entrance to the castle was provided by a suspension bridge, which was destroyed at the end of the 18th century.
14. Hallwyl Castle
Hallwyl is a castle on the water, located on the river Abach and is one of the most significant castles in Switzerland. Since 1925, it has been open to visitors as a museum complex.
The first mention of the castle dates back to 1256. In the Middle Ages, a fire burned several times, but the buildings were rebuilt and expanded.
Today, the castle buildings are located on two islands, washed by two channels of the Abach River. There is a cafe and a museum on the premises of the castle, the expositions of which are dedicated to the history of the castle, its owners and the life of its residents.
Read More: Castles in Sicily
15. Grandson Castle
Grandson Castle is located in the ancient city of Grandson on the shores of Lake Neuchatel in the Vaud canton, 45 km north of Lausanne.
It is one of the best preserved Swiss fortresses. The construction of the castle took several centuries.
The first buildings appeared at the beginning of the 11th century, and 5 round towers were built in the 14th century. The castle is located on a hill and is perfectly visible from anywhere in the city.
Castelgrande is another amazing castle in the Bellinzona castles complex and one of the best castles in Switzerland.
Castelgrande is the oldest of the three castles in Bellinzona. It is located on a rocky peak as if hanging over a valley. The Roman fortress that stood on this site was rebuilt in the 12th century, and until the end of the 15th-century castle was rebuilt several times.
The castle is notable for two towers: Black (Torre Nera) and White (Torre Bianca). The White Tower is the tallest tower in Castelgrande. The relief wall connecting the towers forms the courtyard of this beautiful castle.
The castle’s south wing has a museum with historical documents of Bellinzona.
Stockalperschloss is the largest castle in Switzerland. Located in the city of Brig, deep in the Alpine mountains, in the canton of Valais. However, this castle cannot be visited as it is privately owned.
On Swiss land, more than 500 castles and fortifications were built in different historical periods. Many of the buildings, unfortunately, have not survived to our times and turned into ruins.
There are many castles in Switzerland which are open to the public. Among them: Habsburg Castle, Jegenstorf Castle, Sasso Corbaro Castle, Tarasp Castle, Thun Castle, Spiez Castle, Tourbillon Castle, Chateau de Chillon, Aigle Castle, Rapperswil Castle, Oberhofen Castle, Gruyere Castle, Chateau Ste-Maire, Hallwyl Castle, Grandson Castle, and Castelgrande Castle.
Several castles in Switzerland are located on the side of a mountain. Among them: Castelgrande, Sasso Corbaro Castle, Tarasp Castle, and the Habsburg Castle.
Swiss castles of the 13th century are Castelgrande, Gruyere Castle, Tourbillon Castle, and Oberhofen Castle
Swiss castles of the 12th century are Chillon Castle, Jegenstorf Castle, and the Thun Castle.
There are about 50 castles in Zurich. Rapperswil Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Zurich.
Discover More of Switzerland
Sylvie Simpson is the founder of European Cities with Kids. For the past 6 years, she has been travelling all over Europe whenever she has the chance, both solo, for work and with her daughter. Sylvie is on a mission to help people make the most of city breaks in Europe with kids and helps over 50,000 readers per month plan and make the most of their trips in Europe with kids.