Chateau de Chillon | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Chateau de Chillon

Veytaux, Vaud, Switzerland

Lucy Davidson

19 Apr 2021

About Chateau de Chillon

Chateau de Chillon – also known as Castle Chillon – is a picturesque fort which uses both Lake Geneva and a moat created between a small island and the mainland for defence. First mentioned between 1160 or 1005 AD, it is along the shoreline of Lake Geneva near Veytaux, Switzerland.

Through the centuries it has been home to the Counts of Savoy as well as Lord Byron.

History of Chateau de Chillon

Chillon began as a Roman outpost, guarding the strategic road through the Alpine passes. First construction of the castle itself dates back to the 10th century, though it is likely that it was a military site before that date: objects dating from the Roman and Bronze ages were discovered during 19th century excavations.

The oldest parts of the castle haven’t been definitively dated, but the first written record of the castle is in 1005. From the mid 12th century, the castle was used a summer house for the Counts of Savoy, who kept a fleet of ships on Lake Geneva.

Chateau de Chillon was hugely expanded in 1248 and in 1266-7 by Peter II.

During the 16th century Wars of Religion, the castle was used as a prison by the dukes of Savoy to house prisoners. In 1536, the castle was captured by a Genevois and Bernese force, meaning that all of the prisoners were released, and then served as the residence for the Bernese bailiff until it was converted into a state prison in 1733.

In 1798, the French-speaking canton of Vaud drove out the German-speaking Bernese authorities and declared the Lemanic Republic. From then on, Chillon was used as a weapons and munitions depot.

At the end of the 19th century, structures were set up for scientific and historically accurate restoration project of Chillon. The restoration project was internationally acclaimed for its rigour and attention to detail, with a combination of knowledge and extensive research heavily influencing its development.

Chateau de Chillon Today

Historically, Chillon has attracted romantic writers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Gustave Flaubert, and Lord Byron. Today, Chillon is amongst the most visited castles in Switzerland and Europe, with 42 rooms and an accompanying audio guide making it a hugely worthwhile visit.

Getting to Chateau de Chillon

Chateau de Chillon is a 6 minute drive from the centre of Montreux, via Route 9. By bus, it takes around 15 minutes from the centre, with a number of buses departing every 10 minutes. By foot, it takes around 30 minutes from Montreux’s centre, via Route 9.

 

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