Sion is one of those cities that seduces you from a great distance, before you even reach the town, watching it from the highway or through the train window. It has ancient castles placed on two rocky hills, opposite to each other, surrounded by the Rhone valley, Rhone river, vineyards and mountain peaks in the background. It certainly leaves a great first impression.
Its beauty revolves around buildings that are 1000 years old, sunny weather, great wine, historical importance and fun outdoor activities. It has some interesting features, like self-driving buses, snorkeling activities and hiking trails with spectacular views.
In most of the cities of Switzerland, there’s a lot of rain, but in here, sunny weather is 300 days per year, so this is the spot for you if you are a fan of the sunny weather. When we visited, in September, it was 30 degrees, so I had a bit of sun-bathe climbing up those hills.
Join us for a tour of this ancient and seducing city of Sion in Switzerland.
Sion is the capital of Valais region, toggled between German and France, but most of the population speaks French. Its history dates back to 6000 years BC; the researchers dug out some ancient tools and instruments of that age. It used to be run by Celtics and then taken over by Romans. There are even notes about Sion in Julie Cesar’s books.
It has an important strategic position, so it was built with high stone walls and castles on hills from which they could control the routes and traders coming back and forth. It is close to Italy and France and it is populated with 34 000 people which is a big number for Switzerland.
As I already mentioned, from the distance, it is really distinctive, you can see its two hills with castles rising above the Rhone valley. Through this valley, the beautiful Rhone river flows through and then enters the Lake Geneva. We mentioned this river before when we talked about Aletsch Glaciers which give birth to it.
The Twin Castles
The first thing to see are the twin castles, Valère and Tourbillon, upon the rocky hills. It takes a nice hearty hike with a beautiful reward at the peak. Julie and I decided to split, so each of us can visit one castle. Prepare yourself for some steps as well. Even though it is only 500 m above sea level, the strong sun rays are making you feel like it is higher than that. Bring some water, comfortable snickers and have fun.
I walked up to Valère, it took about 15 to 20 minutes to get up, and then 10 minutes to get down to the starting position. When you arrive there, you will see the remains of a place where people used to live 1000 years ago, a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic styles. Simple, but beautiful. There are also some quotes in Latin engraved and some interior frescoes that have survived the centuries.
It is mesmerizing and it’s mixed with greenery. There are some big tables set up around it, so you can have a picnic when you get up there. The view is the best part of it. You can look over the valley, the river, the vineyards and surrounding hills and mountains. Make sure to watch our video, so you don’t miss a record of this view!
From the top of the hill, I could also see Julie on the other side, climbing up the hill towards the other castle, Château Tourbillon. That walk is even more difficult, so I left it to the younger and livelier traveler. I can’t even imagine how it used to be like living here. They had to climb these hills each time they needed something. Nothing was easy back then. So, these places remind us how convenient our lives are today. We should be grateful every single day for that.
My friend told me a story about a girl who lived here, you can hear about it in the video. Also, what strikes me is how they built it. It’s placed on a cliff, I can’t even comprehend how much work must have been put into making this beautiful structure.
The Walking Tour
The easiest way is to arrive by train, the route goes from Brig and then after Sion to Lausanne and Geneva. You can also arrive by car and then park, walk around the city and then follow signs to get to the two castles and take a hike or two.
The town is full of ancient buildings, nice restaurants, statues, and churches. The most beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral is in the center, you will recognize it by a big orange clock.
And the most interesting part was driving an automatized bus, we made a special video only about this ride. I will just say that it was banned by the Swiss government because it’s highly developed AI technology.
So, that was our visit to Sion, an ancient beauty in the south part of Switzerland. Make sure to watch our video and leave some comments. Au revoir!