Bellinzona (Ger. Bellenz), a town of Switzerland, capital of a district of the same name, and alternately with Lugano and Locarno the capital of the canton of Ticino, on the left bank of the Ticino, 50 m. N. by E. of Milan; pop. about 2,200; of the district, 12,000. It is situated between two rocky heights on the Italian slope of the Alps, at the union of the roads from the St. Gothard and San Bernardino, and Lakes Maggiore and Lugano. The Ticino is here crossed by a bridge of 14 arches and restrained by a long stone dam. It is the key of the Italian-German boundary, and the partly ruined castles on the Giori rocks, Castello di Mezzo and Castello Corbario, which overhang the town, have been strengthened by additional fortifications. On an isolated rock stands a third castle, the Castello Grande, which is used as an arsenal and prison. The church of St. Peter and St. Stephen, with 11 marble altars and a high cupola, is the finest in the canton. The convent of the Augustinians is used as a government house. The inhabitants are farmers and cattle drivers, and many of them seek employment in neighboring Italian towns, leaving the women at home to till the land. There is an active transit trade.
The town long belonged to the dukes of Milan, and has been often a bone of contention, chiefly between Swiss, Italians, and Germans; the Swiss ruling it almost uninterruptedly since the end of the 15th century. The language spoken is an Italian dialect.