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Locarno, Switzerland

Locarno is the capital of the Locarno district, located on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore (Lago Maggiore) in the Swiss canton of Ticino, close to Ascona at the foot of the Alps. The Locarno International Film Festival takes place every year in August in the city and, at night, on the Piazza Grande.In January 2004, the Italian historian Marino Vigano speculated that Locarno’s castle may have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

On our list of most beautiful places to visit in Switzerland

Main sights

Locarno has a number of interesting sights that draw tourists year-round.

Astrovia Locarno

The Astrovia Locarno is a 1 : 1,000,000,000 scale model of the Solar System. The Sun can be found at the end of Via Gioacchino Respini where the cycle path, which runs alongside the river Maggia, starts. Pluto, the final planet in the model, can be found 6 kilometres (4 miles) away from this starting point in the village of Tegna.

Madonna del Sasso, Cardada and Cimetta

The sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso in Orselina above the city is the principal sight and goal of pilgrimage in the city. The founding of the sanctuary goes back to a vision of the Virgin Mary that the Franciscan brother Bartolomeo d’Ivrea experienced in the night of 14/15 August 1480. The interior is highly decorated, and a platform gives a magnificent view of the city. The Locarno–Madonna del Sasso funicular links Locarno city centre with the Madonna del Sasso sanctuary and Orselina. From Orselina, an cable car operates to the top of Cardada (el. 1,340 m (4,400 ft)), and a chair lift goes further to the top of Cimetta(el. 1,671 m (5,482 ft)).

Castello Visconteo

Castello Visconteo, on the edge of the old town, was built in the 12th century, probably as the residence of a Captain Orelli, who remained true to the Emperor. In 1260, it fell into the hands of the Ghibellines. In 1342 the Visconti of Milan, for whom it is now named, attacked the castle from both the land and the lake side and took it. It first came into the hands of the Eidgenossen in 1503. Today, only a fifth of the original structure remains. Most of that dates from the 15th and 16th centuries. Only the foundation remains from the original structure.

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