Hello everyone! In my last post I wrote about one of the landmarks of Montroux, Rochers de Naye, and today I’m gonna introduce to you the most famous castle in Switzerland – the Chillon Castle. Why is it famous? Maybe because of Lord Byron’s poem “The Prisoner of Chillon”.
There are seven pillars of Gothic mould,
In Chillon’s dungeons deep and old,
There are seven columns, massy and grey,
Dim with a dull imprison’d ray,
A sunbeam which hath lost its way,
And through the crevice and the cleft
Of the thick wall is fallen and left;
Creeping o’er the floor so damp,
Like a marsh’s meteor lamp:
And in each pillar there is a ring,
And in each ring there is a chain;
That iron is a cankering thing,
For in these limbs its teeth remain,
With marks that will not wear away,
Till I have done with this new day,
Which now is painful to these eyes,
Which have not seen the sun so rise
For yearsI cannot count them o’er,
I lost their long and heavy score
When my last brother droop’d and died,
And I lay living by his side……
This castle is close to Montreux (5 mins by bus) and since it’s the most famous castle in Switzerland, it’s easily accessible from Lausanne or Vevey by train, bus or ship.
Introduction and history
Chillon Castle is located on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva. The water castle is the most visited historic building in Switzerland. For nearly four centuries Chillon was the residence and profitable toll station of the Counts of Savoy.
Excavations carried out from the end of the 19th century, in particular by the archeologist Albert Naef (1862-1936), affirm that this site has been occupied since the Bronze Age. In its current state, the Castle of Chillon is the result of several centuries of constant building, adaptations, renovations and restorations. The rocky island on which the castle is built, was both a natural protection and a strategic location to control the passage between northern and southern Europe.
The history of the castle was influenced by three major periods:
- The Savoy period (12th century to 1536)
- The Bernese period (1536-1798)
- The Vaudois period (1798 to the present)
If you are interested in history of the castle during these periods of time please click here.
As for the entry ticket prices and opening hours please have a look at the pictures above, or you can click here for more detailed info. (The castle closes its doors at the latest 1 hour after the ticket office closes. If you wanna have a look at all the rooms in a relaxed manner I suggest at least 1.5-2 hours.)
If you wanna have audioguide, you can either download it at home for 3 CHF or rent it on site for 6 CHF. When you buy the tickets, the staff will give you a guidance brochure for free and you can choose from 8 languages. If gives you a general idea of what’s in each room and I think it’s very useful. Don’t forget to get one.
Here are some pages I got from the official website and if you wanna know more about the high lights please click here. The castle is very well oriented. Just follow the numbers and you’ll see everything.
Highlights and recommended rooms
Now I’ll combine the highlights from the official website with the brochure I got in the castle, to show you what are the must-sees according to me and the website. there are in general 46 rooms and courtyards and I’ll add room numbers as caption to the pictures I attach below, so you know which rooms they are. Also I’ll add the numbers of the rooms that you must see and a small introduction after I attach the pictures.
- Room No.9: Bonivard’s prison. This prison owes its frame to the English poet Lord Byron who, in 1816, recounted the captivity of Francois Bonivard in his poem “The Prison of Chillon”.
- Room No.13: Constable’s dining room. The oak columns are original ons from the 13th century.
- Room No.14: Aula Nova. The large shield with the Savoy coat of arms on the far wall dates from the 15th century.
- Room No.16: Bernese bedroom. Used as a bedroom in the middle ages.
- Room No.17: Peter II room.
- Room No.18: Coat-of-arms hall. The chimney and coffered ceiling date from the 15th century.
- Room No.19: Camera Domini. Created in the 13th century and completely refurbished in the 14th century. The spiral staircase, built in about 1336, allowed the lord of the castle to climb up to the ramparts and down to his private chapel.
- Room No.20: Drawing room.
- Room No.21: Latrines. This construction dates from the 13th century.
- Room No.24: Chapel.
- Room No.26: Aula Magna.
- Room No.30: Camera Nova. the committee room.
- Room No.31: Domus Clericorum.
- Room No.32: Model room. The models show the consecutive stages of the castle’s construction.
- Room No.35: Bastion.
- Room No.38: Gatehouse.
- Room No.44: Keep.
I have to say the location of this castle is just wonderful because basically all the bedrooms, dining rooms and even the toilets have a lake view. Through the windows, especially those of the towers, you can see Montreux, lake Léman, French mountain or even further.
In the castle and view from the towers
Sunset in Montreux
After visiting the castle, don’t forget to go to the small garden on your right when you exit. It give a wonderful view of lake Léman, Chillon castle, the French mountains and if you’re on time, the wonderful sunset.
I know I’m recommending to many things but you are not in a hurry why not stopping here for 15 mins and watching the sun going down and hiding behind the mountains? I have to say this is one of the best sunsets that I’ve seen.
if you wanna have a nice picture of the castle but you didn’t take a ship, there is one more spot that you should try. When you exit the castle, turn left and walk ahead till you see a small path leading to the lake. After around 5 mins walk by the lake, you will see a path in the lake made of stones. Follow the path (be careful, there’s quite some sand on the stones so the path is quite slippery), and you will have a wonderful of the castle as well as the mountains and lake.
I wish you a wonderful time visiting Chillon castle and I hope you have the opportunity to watch the peaceful sunset by lake Léman.