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Chillon Castle (Château de Chillon)

Chillon Castle History

The Chillon Castle (French, Château de Chillon) is situated in Vaud Canton, Switzerland, on the shore of Lake Geneva (Lake Leman), between Montreux and Villeneuve.

Much of its reputation is due to literary descriptions, especially those by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (La Nouvelle Héloïse, 1761), Percy Bysshe Shelley (History of a Six Weeks’ Tour, London, 1817) and Lord Byron (The Prisoner of Chillon, 1816).

Chillon Castle was first recorded in 1150, but it may have been constructed several decades earlier, as the lower part of the donjon and the old chapel appear to date back to the 11th century.

Its position, on a rocky outcrop on the lake, enabled it to control the road leading to Italy over the Simplon and Great St Bernard passes, at the point where the road is confined between the steep mountain slopes and the lake shore.

The castle was progressively enlarged and its defences reinforced by the counts of Savoy, Thomas I and Peter II. By the beginning of the 16th century the power of Savoy had weakened, and in 1536 Chillon fell to the Bernese after a three-day siege.

It then became a bailiff’s residence. Since 1798 the castle has belonged to the canton of Vaud; for a long period it was used as an arsenal and a prison, but it was restored by Albert Naef (1862–1936) and others from 1892 and is now a historic monument.

The shape of Château de Chillon resembles a ship, 110 m long and 45 m wide at the broadest point. It has a tall, 13th-century donjon, which gives a commanding viewpoint over the castle and lake.

The donjon is surrounded by ranges of buildings within two circuits of wall, sheer to the lake and reinforced by two further large towers; on the most vulnerable side facing the shore, there were three successive baileys to be overcome.

The furnishings and decoration of the various rooms and passages at Chillon date from both the medieval and Bernese periods. The small chapel of St George contains beautiful frescoes executed by a follower of Cimabue: large figures, representing prophets and Apostles, are wrapped in full, brightly coloured robes.

The series of large vaulted cellars, partially excavated from the bedrock, were used to store the counts’ arsenal and provisions until their conversion into prisons.

Château de Chillon - Visitor info

Today the Château de Chillon is the most well known and most visited castle in Switzerland.

The castle is open for visitors every day of the year except the 1st of January and the 25th of December.

A ticket for an adult costs 12 CHF, while children aged 6-16 can visit the Chillon castle for half that. Guided tours are available in most international languages.

Chillon Castle Map&Location

Address: Château de Chillon, Avenue de Chillon 24, 1820 Veytaux, Switzerland. Get help with directions using the map provided bellow:

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 Château de Chillon Photos

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Chillon Castle © Jimmy
Chillon panoramic view © Roger Wollstadt
Château de Chillon towers © Martin Burns
Château de Chillon courtyard © Craig Kohtz
Château de Chillon interior © Shannon
Château de Chillon interior © Tomislav Medak
Château de Chillon interior © mightymightymatze
Chateau de Chillon interior © Tomislav Medak