Sion (in French), called Sitten in German, is the capital of the Canton of Valais. The Old Town, which lies between the castle hills of Valère and Tourbillon, dates back to the Middle Ages and is home to numerous sights and attractions. It exudes a special flair and if you did not know better, you might think you were lost in a city in Italy.
Valère is more a fortified village than a castle. The first buildings probably date from the middle of the XIIth century. The buildings were made of wood and have left no trace. The first stone houses appeared in the XIIIth century and covered the whole site. A short time afterwards they were surrounded by a crenellated outer wall that followed the natural contours of the landscape. Valère thus became a fortified site.
The construction of the church probably began at the end of the XIth century. It progressed rapidly since it was already completed by the middle of the XIIIth century. However, in between, aesthetic tastes changed and the original Roman style finally became Gothic. Around 1900, the building was fully restored from a perspective favouring the Medieval vestiges. In 1987, the church was consecrated a Minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II. The same year, a new restoration campaign began and is still in progress.
The organ is the masterpiece of the basilica and the oldest instrument in the world of this type that is still playable.