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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Château de Chillon

The Château de Chillon (Chillon Castle) is located on the shore of Lake Léman in the commune of Veytaux, at the eastern end of the lake, 3 km from Montreux, Switzerland. The castle consists of 100 independent buildings that were gradually connected to become the building as it stands now.

The oldest parts of the castle have not been definitively dated, but the first written record of the castle is in 1160 or 1005. From the mid 12th century, the castle was home to the Counts of Savoy, and it was greatly expanded in the 13th century by Pietro II. The Castle was never taken in a siege, but did change hands through treaties.

It was made popular by Lord Byron, who wrote the poem The Prisoner Of Chillon (1816) about François de Bonivard, a Genevois monk and politician who was imprisoned there from 1530 to 1536; Byron also carved his name on a pillar of the dungeon. The castle is one of the settings in Henry James's novella Daisy Miller (1878).

The history of Chillon was influenced by 3 major periods: the Savoy Period, the Bernese Period and the Vaudois Period.

Chillon is currently open to the public for visits and tours. According to the castle website Chillon is listed as "Switzerlands most visited historic monument". There is a fee for entrance and there are both parking spaces and a bus stop near by for travel. Inside the castle there are several recreations of the interiors of some of the main rooms including the grand bedroom, hall and cave stores. Inside the castle itself there are four great halls, three courtyards and a series of bedrooms open to the public. One of the oldest is the Camera domini, which was a room occupied by the Duke of Savoy - it is decorated with 14th Century medieval murals

Visiting the Castle of Chillon is like going back in time! Each hall or room unveils a part of the castle’s history. Modern means enable us to better understand the daily life of the Court of Savoy and also of the Bernese bailiffs.


The architecture of these underground rooms reminds us of the great Gothic cathedrals of the 13th Century. This part of the castle certainly greatly stimulates the imagination, with the numerous legends that have arisen from this place. The most well-known is that of the imprisonment of Bonivard, made famous by Lord Byron, who made him the hero of his poem « The Prisoner of Chillon".

There are four formal great halls in the castle, whose windows all look out over the marvellous landscape of Lake Geneva. The Savoy family held sumptuous banquets in them, whilst the the Bernese renders justice in some of them.

The Grand Hall of the Court of the Chateau de Chillon. In the Middle Ages, this room was the Lower Great Hall for receptions, banquets & other festivities. This room features black marble pillars and beautiful windows that overlook Lake Geneva.

Another interior view of the Grand Hall of the Court. This is a massive room! The black marble pillars which support the ceiling are visible here.

One of the ornate windows from the Grand Hall of the Court that looks out onto Lake Geneva.

Chambre bernoise

A comfortable bedroom, with rather subdued decoration, a large four-poster bed, heating, private toilet and even running water!

Camera domini

This extraordinary room was obviously reserved for the Duke of Savoy. The bestiary of the 14th Century murals is extremely rich in medieval symbols.

Interior of the Camera Domini or Bedroom of the Counts & Dukes of Savoy. This room was built in the 13th Century and refurbished in the 14th Century.

View of the main keep & treasury of the Chateau de Chillon from the window of the Camera Domini, or Bedroom of the Counts & Dukes of Savoy.

The main keep of the Chateau de Chillon. This shot was taken from the Duke's Chamber, which looks out into the second courtyard

The city of Montreux, Switzerland on a rainy day. This shot was taken from the Chateau de Chillon.

An ornate window at the Chateau de Chillon.

Hall of the Scribes in the Chateau de Chillon. This room is where the Duke's attendance stayed. At the end of the room is a huge painting, which features an image of Francois Bonivard, chained to the pillar in the Chateau's prison.

The 4th Courtyard of the Chateau de Chillon. This courtyard is arranged for defending the castle & commanding the old road. The outter defensive wall contains three semi-circular towers & has a moat below. This shot was taken at the foot of the third tower, so only 2 of the 3 towers are visible.

View of the gate leading into the 2nd courtyard of the Chateau de Chillon. The present opening was made in 1836 so that cannons could be moved through the castle when it became an artillery depot. The remains of the original, smaller portal can still be seen on the right side of the the present gateway.

View from the 1st courtyard of the Chateau de Chillon looking through the main gate that leads to the exterior of the castle.

Fountain in the 1st courtyard of the Chateau de Chillon.

Window, designed to represent a crufix at the Chateau de Chillon.

A Map of the Castle

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