Chillon Castle. Switzerland
On a particularly warm and sunny day during our winter holidays we decided to travel along the shores of Lake Geneva and visit the small, lakeside towns. When we started to get closer to the town of Montreux we noticed a signpost to an ancient castle and decided to change our route. As it turned out, it was well worth it.
Chillon Castle (fr. Château de Chillon) is located in Switzerland on the banks of Lake Geneva in the town of Veytaux, in the French-speaking Canton of Vaud.
Visiting the castle
I was really hoping that we’d be able to see the castle not just from the outside but also inside. The thing was I’d had my doubts about it being possible after finding that the castle in Lichtenstein was closed to visitors. It turned out we were in luck! Chillon Castle is a working museum which is open to visitors all year round.
The castle is truly impressive. Not only is it beautiful, but also picturesque. Its location on a small rock on the banks of Lake Geneva, surrounded by the Alps, is enough to lure you in in just one glance. Its historic past, coupled with a multitude of legends, make it one of the most interesting castles in Switzerland. Built in the Romanesque style with elements of early Gothic architecture, the castle is an ancient and majestic estate. The Castle’s entrance can only be reached by crossing the bridge because it’s surrounded by water on all sides.
There is some evidence that construction of the castle began in the 9th century, but the first written mention of Chillun castle can be dated to 1160. Its convenient location allowed it to control the strategically important road, which, along with Great St. Bernard Pass, was the only route from Northern to Southern Europe. Nowadays, the road exists in the form of modern European route E27, which connects Italy and Switzerland.
The castle’s first ruler was the bishop of Sion. As he understood the significance of a castle as an important strategic location, he undertook its fortification.
In 1230 the castle came into the possession of the Duchy of Savoy, which converted the castle into their official residence. By that time the castle had become substantially more fortified and larger.
The face of the castle, which is maintained to this day, took on its modern appearance when it became part of the Canton of Vaud in 1536.
The Savoy coat of arms, a white cross on a red background, continues to adorn the castle’s walls.
The castle itself is made up of twenty-five buildings, which altogether form three inner courtyards. During the governance of the Duchy of Savoy, the castle was furnished with luxurious state and bedrooms, a guard tower, and an arsenal, as well as a prison in the cellar.
Unfortunately, only a small amount of the interior decorations have been preserved. From what’s left, however, it’s easy to imagine what the castle looked like several centuries ago.
In one of the castle’s galleries stages of both its construction and the restoration works are clearly displayed.
We were absolutely amazed by the enormous fireplaces, the likes of which I’d never seen before in my life!
In quite a few of the rooms you could see medieval inscriptions which had been preserved on the walls.
Despite everything – Chillon Castle’s majestic and fine appearance, the wealth and luxury of its galleries and of its halls and living areas, its cellars and vaults give very much a negative impression. For a long time they were employed as an impervious prison.
This is where prisoners were kept. A huge number of people became victims of the Duchy of Savoy’s cruelty, who were allies of the inquisition. They acted as judge, jury and executioner.
The most well-known prisoner interred in Chillon Castle was François Bonivard, an supporter of the reformation and opponent to the Duchy of Savoy. In 1532, on the order of Charles III, the ninth Duke of Savoy, Bonivard was imprisoned in the castle and spent four years there chained to a post. Many of his associates died as a result of the torture and hunger they were forced to endure, but he survived. In 1536 Bonivard was freed by Bernese protestant who subsequently perished in the castle. This became the main slogan of Byron’s renowned “The Prisoner of Chillon”. This was because in 1816, whilst visiting the castle, Byron was so shaken by the story of Bonivard that felt compelled to describe it in his poem.
After the castle was recaptured from the Duchy of Savoy, the vaults were used for a long time as an arsenal.
Nowadays, the dungeons are used as a wine cellar for storing Clos De Chillon, the local wine.
One of the castle’s arrow slits.
It’s interesting whether these lanterns were reconstructed based on sketches from previous centuries or whether they survived into modern times.
An interesting-looking postcard in the souvenir shop.
We were really impressed by the castle. There are lots of hidden treasures, gems and surprises inside, but I won’t tell you what they are. I would recommend anyone to go and see the castle when given a free moment and see it for themselves.
The photographs from this blog entry can also be viewed in the album. Open»
Chillon Castle Foundation
Av. de Chillon 21
Тел.: +41(0)21 966-89-10
Факс: +41(0)21 966-89-12
The castle is open to visitors every day except 25th December and 1st January.
|April – September||09:00-19:00 (last entry before 18:00)|
|October||09:30-18:00 (last entry before 17:00)|
|November – February||10:00-17:00 (last entry before 16:00)|
|March||09:30-18:00 (last entry before 17:00)|
|Children (aged 6-16)||CHF 6.00|
|Families (couple + one child aged 6-16)||CHF 29.00|
(Students, pensioners, people with disabilities,
members of the Swiss armed forces in uniform,
local tourist cards, various discounts;
necessary documentation confirming eligibility must be presented)
|Adults (minimum 20 visitors)||CHF 9.50|
|Children (minimum 20 visitors)||CHF 5.00|
Display route to the castle» (opens a new window)
|From Bern along route A12 – 99 km (an hour without traffic).||Route»|
|From Geneva along routes A1 and A9 – 104 km (one hour ten minutes without traffic).||Route»|
|Reaching Chillon is only possible from Bern by changing in Lausanne (2-2½ hours) or in Visp and Sion (2½ hours)||Schedule»|
|From Lausanne the trains go every 40 minutes. The route requires a change either in Montreux or in Territet which is already practically at the castle.|
|Chillon can be reached by train from Geneva in 1 hours 40 minutes (with changes in Lausanne and Territet) or 1 hour 52 minutes with a single change in Montreux.|
All rail connections and routes, along with departure times, can be viewed on the Swiss Federal Railways site: http://www.sbb.ch/
|Walking from the centre of Montreux to the castle only takes 40 minutes (3.2 km).||Route»|