|Château de la Bâtiaz|
The castle takes its name from the Latin word "bastida" meaning fortress or fortified place. It was commissioned by the Bishop of Sion in the thirteenth century and changed hands several times between Sion and the Count of Savoy. It was burnt on 13 November 1475, but the military importance and defensive position of the castle compelled the new bishop to restore it. The château was destroyed again in 1518 and all that remains today is the central building and the tower.
|An imposing fortress overlooking Martigny|
|The central courtyard|
|The Hall of Knights|
The construction of the tower was taken very seriously and the emphasis was on its defence systems. There are very few windows in the fort, and those which exist are for lookout posts or archers only. The outer courtyard has three trebuchets in it, there is a canon just inside the gate and two other 'war machines' are also on the site. The walls of the tower are 3.5m thick and have a staircase winding up inside. (There are two toilets inside the walls as well!)
The tower rises above the dungeon, which is next door to the torture chamber. The castle sits among picturesque vineyards today, but in the early 16th century those vineyards were gallows. There are 125 steps up to the top of the tower and the views from the top are pretty impressive.
|The dungeon, complete with torture instruments and a skeleton|
|The view from the top of the tower looking up the valley.|
Note the terraced vineyards on the slopes of the mountain.
|The view down the valley. In the distance there is a wind turbine farm.|
Martigny is a gateway town to numerous hiking and skiing trails. After visiting the castle, I followed the little yellow trail signs up through the vineyards and then up and up and up! I walked in the direction of Ravoire, winding up some pretty forest trails.
|Lots of options from Martigny|
|The trail up from the castle through the vineyards|
|Quiet forest trails|
After exploring the mountains, I headed back down to check out the town. Martigny has a population of 15,000 people and it is a bustling town with lots of shops (boutiques and outdoors) and a range of restaurants. The Dranse River flows from the Valais Alps into the Rhone here and there are lovely walks and parks along the river. Martigny has a lot to offer - maybe one day we'll skip the mountains and enjoy the town instead!
|An ornate bridge over the Dranse River|