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Sion, Switzerland

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View of Sion, Switzerland, and its vineyardsView of Sion, Switzerland, and its vineyards
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authorshipValéry Héritier
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Sion (German: Sitten, Latin: Sedunum) is the capital of Valais canton in Switzerland. The city of 30,000 people (2011 estimate) covers 25.6 sq km (9.9 sq mi) on the north bank of the river Rhône.

View of Sion Old Town with its cathedralView of Sion Old Town with its cathedral
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authorshipMartin Doelberg
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The history of Sion goes back to the pre-historic period. In the 1st century BC, a settlement has appeared here, the capital of the Seduni people, one of the four Celtic tribes in the Valais area. Under the Romans, the settlement became a town known as Sedunum.

Christianity arrived in Sedunum in AD 377. Its Roman Catholic diocese is the oldest in Switzerland, and one of the oldest north of the Alps. The episcopal see was originally sited in Octodurum, as Martigny was known at that time. The first authentically recorded bishop, Saint Theodore, also founded the Abbey of Saint-Maurice, which today is the oldest abbey north of the Alps.

Tourism is today one of the main components of Sion's economy. The city has 14 buildings and sites listed on the list of Swiss heritage site of national significance. The old town has quaint cobblestone streets that you can explore on foot. The city is also the heart of the third biggest wine producing region in Switzerland.

Château de Tourbillon and the Notre-Dame-de-Valère, SionChâteau de Tourbillon and the Notre-Dame-de-Valère, Sion
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The warmest month in Sion is July, when the average high temperature reaches 26.1°C (79°F). Coldest month is January, when the average low drops to -3.8°C (25.2°F). December is the wettest month, receiving 61 mm (2.4 in) of precipitation.

Visiting Sion

You can reach Sion by train from Brig and Montreux.

Sights & Attractions in Sion

  1. Cathédrale Notre-Dame du Glarier
    Cathedral built in the 15th century, though its Romanesque belfry dates to the 12th century.
  2. Château de Tourbillon
    A medieval fortress built in the late 13th century.
  3. Château de Valère
    This is a fortified church, the Notre-Dame-de-Valère. It today houses the Musée cantonal d'Histoire. The church was built in the 12th-13th century, on the site of an 11th century fortress.
  4. Église St-Théodule
    Church built between 1514-16 in the late Gothic style. It is located to the south of the cathedral.
  5. Hotel de Ville
    17th century town hall, a distinctive landmark of the city with its clocktower crowned by a cupola and lantern.
  6. Maison Supersaxo
    Late Gothic house built in 1505 for Georges Supersaxo, the local governor.
  7. Musée cantonal d'Archéologie
    Museum exhibiting the archaeological discoveries in Valais, from carved steles to Greek and Etruscan artifacts.
  8. Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts
    Art gallery housed in two 15th century houses there were once the residence of episcopal officers. It showcases artworks by Valais artists.
  9. Tour des Sorciers
    Literally the Witches' Tower, this is in fact the remains of Sion's medieval fortification. Its conical roof resembles a witch's hat.

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