Chillon castle, the “must see landmark” at Lake Geneva
Undoubtedly, this is the most famous castle in Switzerland. Also because of its unique location in (yes, correct) the lake. Easy access via the lake promenade that connects Montreux and the Chillon Castle, a 45 minute walk or a bus ride of 15 minutes. The rocky island on which the castle sits constituted both a form of natural protection and a strategic positioning to control passage from the north to the south of Europe. The fortress took on the oval shape of the genuine island upon which it was built. It is approximately 100 m long and 50 m wide. It also took its name from the rock; the word ‘Chillon’ meant ‘rocky platform’ in an ancient language.
The history of the castle is marked by three great periods: those of the Savoy family, the Bernese bailiffs and the Canton of Vaud.
The first written account about the castle was in 1150. The Savoy family controlled the route that passed in front of the castle and led to the new town of Villeneuve, a path trodden by travelers, merchants and pilgrims heading towards Rome via the Great Saint Bernard alpine pass. The Counts of Savoy profited from this thoroughfare by installing a toll to cover security and maintenance costs for the road.
Then the Swiss, or more specifically the Bernese, conquered the Pays de Vaud in 1536. They finally claimed Chillon Castle on March 29 after a three week siege, when the Catalan fled with his servants by boat.
On January 10,1798, patriots of Vevey and Montreux claimed the fortress from the Bernese bailiffs, who left gracefully, surrendering without a fight. On January 24, with support from local citizens and residents of Lausanne, they declared Vaudois independence. These are just some highlights, we invite you to visit the castle yourself to learn more about its history.
When visiting the castle, we strongly recommend a guided tour. In this way, you will learn more about the castle and the guide will reveal details that will otherwise go uncovered.
Just opened late 2020, visit the brand, spanking new Café Byron. With its large bay windows looking out over the castle, Café Byron is open to visitors in need of a tasty pit-stop throughout the day.
During his visit in 1816, British poet Lord Byron found inspiration in the story of Chillon inmate François Bonivard (1493-1570) making him the protagonist in his poem “The Prisoner of Chillon”, which shot the castle to global fame. It has been translated into 20 languages.
Chillon Castle has its own boat stop. You can board in Montreux and go ether one or both ways by boat.
Included is the guided tour and some time at the restaurant for drinks or a meal.
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