The site of Castelgrande has been fortified since at least the late 1st century BC and until the 13th century it was the only fortification in Bellinzona. During its history the castle has been known as the stronghold (before the 13th century), the Old Castle in the 14-15th centuries, Un Castle after 1506 and Saint Michael's Castle from 1818.
The castle can be reached by taking an elevator from the foot of the rock to the castle grounds or by climbing steep, narrow streets from the city center through the city wall onto the castle grounds. The south wing houses a museum that contains "6500 years of human presence on the hill ... and covers the period from the first Neolithic village to the 20th century".
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