July 19, 2013

0752 SWITZERLAND (Ticino) - Montebello Castle - part of Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona (UNESCO WHS)

0752 Montebello Castle

Because occupies an privileged geographic location in the Alps, with acces to the Po valley southward, to the high alpine passes of Nufenen, St. Gotthard, Lukmanier and San Bernardino northward, and to the San Jorio Pass to the eastward, Bellinzona was always coveted by the powers of the day. Ruled succesively by the Romans, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Longobards, and Franks, it became eventually part of the Holy Roman Empire, that has long disputed it with the Pope. For a while, it was divided between the Ruscas family (pro-Imperial) and the House of Visconti (pro-papacy), and in 1500 joined the Swiss Confederation, as a condominium under the joint administration of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden.

In 2000, The Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzone have been included on UNESCO World Heritage Site, as "an outstanding example of a late medieval defensive structure guarding a key strategic Alpine pass". The group is composed of Castelgrande, castle Montebello, castle Sasso Corbaro and fortified walls. The Castelgrande is located on a rocky peak overlooking the valley, with a series of fortified walls that protect the old city and connect to the Montebello. The third castle is located on an isolated rocky promontory south-east of the other two.

In the postcard is Montebello Castle (known as the Small, New or Middle Castle in the 15th century, as Schwyz Castle from 1506 and St. Martin's Castle after 1818), built before 1313 for the Rusca family, who occupied the castle following the Visconti victory and occupation of the Castelgrande, and renovated and expanded between 1462 and 1490 to its current state. The defensive walls of the old town originate here and join up with those from San Michele hill. The view from the castle is spectacular, and on a clear day it is possible to see Lake Maggiore in the distance.

About the stamps
The first stamp, depicting even the Three Castles in Bellinzona, is part of the series UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Switzerland, issued on September 9, 2003. The series contain five stamps with the same face value (0.90 CHF):
Three Castles Bellinzona - it's on this postcard
Old City of Berne
Abbey Precinct of Saint Gall
Convent of Müstair

The second stamp is part of a less common category, event stamps. It was issued on May 31, 2013, and was dedicated to the Switzerland’s national ice hockey team, which won the silver medal at the 77th World Championship (held in Stockholm / Sweden and Helsinki / Finland, between 3 and 19 May).

Bellinzona - Wikipedia
Three Castles of Bellinzona - Wikipedia
Three Castles, Defensive Wall and Ramparts of the Market-Town of Bellinzona - UNESCO official website

Sender: Zasa Lein (direct swap)
Sent from Bern (Bern / Switzerland), on 11.06.2013
Photo: Marcus Gyger

1 comment: