Sion Tourist Attractions
Sion (German Sitten), capital of Valais, occupies the site of the Roman town of Sedunum and has been the see of a bishop since the sixth century. It is now an important market town for fruit and vegetables of the fertile Rhône valley, with many features of interest. The old town is built on the detrital fan of the river Sionne, dominated by two picturesque castle-crowned crags. Here the river Borgne, coming from the Val d'Hérens to the south, flows into the Rhône, carrying down boulders and scree which the Rhône has thrust against its northern bank.
Place de la Planta
In the spacious Place de la Planta are the Palais du Gouvernement (cantonal offices) and a monument commemorating the centenary of Valais' admission into the Confederation (1815).
At 7 rue de Conthey stands the Maison Supersaxo, built by Georg Supersaxo, the provincial governor, in 1505; it has a fine hall with an elaborately carved and painted ceiling.
Rue de Grand-Pont (Town Hall)
In the main street of Sion, Rue du Grand-Pont, which is built over the conduited river Sionne, is the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall, 1660), with an astronomical clock. Built into the hall on the ground floor are a number of Roman inscribed stones, including one of A.D. 377 which is the earliest evidence of Christianity in Switzerland.
Cathedral Notre Dame du Glarier
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame-du-Glarier was rebuilt in the 15th C. and has a 12th C. Romanesque tower. It contains 15th C. bishops' tombs and 17th C. choir-stalls; among the many valuable items in the treasury are a number of reliquaries of the eighth-10th C. In 1988 the great organ, a more than 100-year-old masterpiece by the famous organ builder Carlen of Reckingen, was brought back into service after being restored.
St Théodule's Church (Bishop's Palace)
Facing the Sion cathedral, to the southwest, is the church of St Théodule, a sober building of 1516. The Bishop's Palace (Evêché) on the west side of the square was rebuilt in 1840.
From Sion's Bishop's Palace the narrow Rue de la Tour runs north to the Tour des Sorciers (Wizard's Tower, 12th C.), a relic of the medieval fortifications. Close by, at the junction of Rue de Gravelone and Avenue St-François, stands the Muli (Mule) monument (by M.-E. Sandoz, 1966).
Grenette Cultural Center
In 1988 a cultural center was opened in the Grenette building (1860) with capacity for concerts, exhibitions and other performances in Sion.
Natural History Museum
In Sion there is an interesting Museum of Natural History with geology, mineralogy, botany and zoological departments (dinosaur finds, 1979).
Valais Museum of Art (Cantonal Art Museum)
From the Sion Town Hall a narrow street, Rue des Châteaux (No. 19 Cantonal Museum of Art), leads up to the castles. (It is possible to drive as far as the All Saints chapel and park there.) On the left are the remains of the Château de la Majorie, which now houses the Valais Museum of Art. In front of the castle is a monument to St Theodulus (Bishop of Valais).
Museum of Antiquities
The Sion Museum of Antiquities is at No. 12 Place de la Majorie with prehistoric finds and Gallo-Romanic exhibitions. Beyond this is All Saints chapel (Tous-les-Saints), still in Romanesque style though it was built as late as 1325 (with some 17th C. rebuilding). From here it is a few minutes' walk to the Château de Tourbillon).
Notre-Dame-de-Valère (church and castle)
The Château de Valère (621 m/2,038ft) and the former collegiate church of Notre-Dame-de- Valère (12th-13th C.), built on Roman foundations, combine to form an impressive architectural group (floodlit on summer evenings). The church is a three-aisled pillared basilica, with fantastically decorated capitals in the choir; the carved wooden altar is 16th C., the beautifully carved choir-stalls 17th C., the stone rood-screen 13th C., and the organ, in a painted loft, 15th C. (one of the oldest that can still be played).
Musée de la Valère
Château De Tourbillon
On the higher of the two hills above Sion (655 m/2,149ft) are the imposing ruins of the Château de Tourbillon (built 1294, destroyed by fire 1788), from which there is a view embracing the Rhône valley from Leuk in the east to Martigny in the west.
International Festival of the Ancient Organ of Valère
This annual three-month festival runs from early June to early September and includes over a dozen performances including orchestral, choral and organ concerts. The festival focuses on ancient organ music, and brings together world-class masters.The organ at the center of the festival is the Gothic organ situated in the Valère Cathedral. It is the oldest playable organ in the world, dating back to the eleventh-century.
Tibor Varga Festival
This annual festival includes a series of 15 concerts between early July and early September. The concerts include orchestral, choral and chamber music, with a diverse repertoire. An international violin competition also coincides with the festival in mid-August.The venues are as varied as the repertoire and include the Sion Cathedral, local churches, halls, and state buildings.
Cantonal Historical and Ethnographical Museum
The cultural history of the area from the end of the first millennium to the present day.
Onion Market and Festival
This annual four-day festival has proven popular over the years. The events usually take place in early September.
Map of Sion Attractions