Château de Chillon (Chillon Castle) - the most visited castle in switzerland
Location show on map
Avenue de Chillon 21, Veytaux, Switzerland
Date of build
Chillon Castle is a medieval fortress on Lake Geneva in Switzerland, built on a rocky promontory with high defensive qualities.
The first mention of the castle dates back to 1005, when it is mentioned that it was owned by the Bishop of Sion and governed by the "d'Alinge family". As you can easily count Chillon Castle therefore has a written history of over 1000 years.
The purpose of building the castle was to exercise control over the narrow isthmus between the Alps and Lake Geneva, on the commercial route from south to north Europe.
The castle has been rebuilt and extended several times over the centuries. Archaeological discoveries indicate that work around the courtyards took place as early as the 11th and 13th centuries. In the 13th century the moat around the fortress was widened. In the 18th century, a wooden bridge was built to replace the earlier drawbridge.
The size and shape of Chillon Castle resembles that of a ship, being 110 meters long and 45 meters wide at its largest point.
The castle consists of 25 independent buildings, which were gradually combined to achieve its current form.
The buildings consist of three courtyards around which rise barracks, storehouses, the castellan's residence, ducal and court apartments, and a chapel.
The underground was used as a prison for a long time. Many prisoners sat there for political or religious reasons, while others were held as war hostages. Women, thought to be witches, were tortured and burned from the late 16th to the mid 17th century.
The building was originally owned by the bishops of Sion, but in the 12th century the castle was given as a fief to the Dukes of Savoy. In later years, Chillon Castle was owned by the people of Bern, who used it as a warehouse and the seat of feudal lords. This only changed during the French Revolution, when the territory was annexed to Switzerland. It was then that the buildings, which had been destroyed for centuries, started to be rebuilt.
Today, the castle houses a museum and hosts parties, concerts and exhibitions.
The castle consists of more than 40 rooms, ranging from small niches that were once medieval toilets, to large state rooms, such as the Castellan's Dining Hall, decorated in dark wood, with decorated walls, beautiful painted family crests.
The decor of the rooms is very rich, although due to the frequent travels and moves of the owners, there is not much furniture and furnishings here. Of note are the impressively decorated window seats.
Chillon Castle is the most visited castle in Switzerland, with an estimated average of 330,000 visitors each year, of whom only 30% are Swiss. In 2019 alone, it hosted 432,000 tourists from around the world.
Between 1530 and 1536, Francois Bonnivard, a fighter for the liberation of Geneva, was imprisoned in the castle's vaults, as described by George Byron in his poem "The Prisoner of Chillon."
The walls of the castle are overgrown with vines, which are still used today to produce high-quality wine. It is believed that Mary Shelley wrote her famous novel "Frankenstein" during her travels in Switzerland, on Lake Geneva.
The castle also became the inspiration and prototype for the castle depicted in the 1989 Disney classic, "The Little Mermaid".
Official website: https://www.chillon.ch/
"He could only-lie on the rock- with a great deal of sorrows and without being able to spread his body parts." - Victor Hugo