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Locarno, SwitzerlandLocarno, Switzerland
photo source,_Ascona_%26_Lago_Maggiore_von_Brione_sopra_M.jpg
authorshipGlenn Steiger
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Locarno is a small Italian-speaking town in southern Switzerland. It is located on the northernmost part of Lake Maggiore, in the canton of Ticino. The town covers 19.27 sq km (7.44 sq mi) and has a population of 15,000 (2011 estimate). It is at an average elevation of 200 m (656 ft) and observes the Central European Time (UTC+1) and in summer the Central European Summer Time (UTC+2).

View of Lake Maggiore from LocarnoView of Lake Maggiore from Locarno
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authorshipGürkan Sengün
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Locarno is today a tourist destination attracting visitors to enjoy its Mediterranean climate. Its setting on Lake Maggiore is particularly picturesque.

Three quarters of the population of Locarno speaks Italian, with German being the second most common language. Human habitation in the Locarno area is believed to date back to at least the 14th century BC, based on the discovered in 1934 of 14 urn graves in a necropolis in the area. The following year another necropolis was discovered yielding graves spanning nearly a thousand years, right up to the 3rd century AD.

Roman-era tombs have also been discovered in the Locarno area, providing evidence of Roman occupation of the area. One of the earliest mention of Locarno dates back to 1164, when Emperor Frederick I, Holy Roman Emperor, granted market rights to the town. A market is believed to have been held in the area going back to Roman era.

Chiesa Sant'Antonio Abate, LocarnoChiesa Sant'Antonio Abate, Locarno
photo source
authorshipRoland Zumbuehl
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Locarno was annexed into the Swiss Confederation in 1503. The Protestant Reformation that swept across Central Europe in the 16th century brought the faith to Locarno, which has a small group of Protestants in 1535. However, friction and discrimination against Protestant resulted in the town declaring itself as Catholic in 1550, and four years later, issuing an ultimatum for Protestants to either renounce their faith or leave. This forced some 100 people to leave Locarno, trudging to Zürich.

Locarno became the capital of the Canton of Ticino in 1803 and remains so until 1878. Today it is the administrative capital of Locarno District within Ticino.

Visiting Locarno

You can reach Locarno by train from Zürich, Basel, Lucerne and Milan. If you come by road, the A2 and A13 are the main expressways to reach the city from other parts of Switzerland.

Street in LocarnoStreet in Locarno
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Sights & Attractions in Locarno

  1. Castello Visconteo
    Medieval castle dating to 1342 and enlarged in the late 15th century today houses the museum of history and archaeology.
  2. Chiesa di San Vittore
    The Basilica of San Vittore is a 12th century Romanesque church to the east of the train station.
  3. Chiesa Nuova
    Officially Chiesa Santa Maria Assunta, the "New Church" was built in 1636. It has a splendid Baroque interior.
  4. Chiesa San Francesco
    The Church of St. Francis was built in 1572 on the foundation of a 13th century Franciscan monastery.
  5. Chiesa Sant'Antonio Abate
    The Church of St. Anthony was built in 1692 in the Baroque style and remodelled in 1863.
  6. Lake Maggiore
    Lake in southern Switzerland with Locarno on the northern shore, with mountains rising up in the north and south.
  7. Palazzo della Conferenza
    Palace where the Treaty of Locarno was ratified at the end of World War I between Germany and the other European countries.
  8. Piazza Grande
    Main square of Locarno lined on the northern side by 19th century buildings that today house cafés, bistros and shops.
  9. Pinacoteca Casa Rusca
    Charming 18th century mansion housing the town's art gallery.
  10. Promenade Lungolago Giuseppe Motta
    Lakeside promenade in Locarno lined with palm trees.
  11. Santuario della Madonna del Sasso
    The Sanctuary of Madonna of the Rock is a pilgrimage church overlooking Locarno from a wooded spur.

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