Swiss castles of all sizes can be found throughout Switzerland. Few manmade constructs throughout history have captivated the imagination and wonder of people as much as castles. The elegance and unrivaled splendor of many of Europe’s castles are emblematic of the fairy tale court life associated with royalty, wealth, and extravagance. The castles in Switzerland are no exception. The country boasts around 600 castles, which, given the land and population, is impressive. These giant feats of architecture give a glimpse into the feudal, aristocratic, and monarchic history of Europe. They range from large, mansion-like buildings, to the most extravagant and breathtaking, fortress-type, traditional castles. Of all the Swiss castles, Chillon Castle is the most popular, and most visited historical monument in all of Switzerland.
Chillon Castle is located on the banks of Lake Geneva, situated below the high-reaching Swiss Alps. The castle has been around since the Bronze Age, and the earliest correspondence that mentions the castle dates all the way back to 1150. The castle has endured three different periods throughout its history, as it has transitioned from the Savoy period (twelfth century to 1536), to the Bernese period (1536-1798), to the Vaudois period, which came to be after the Vaudois Revolution in 1798.
There is a reason why Chillon Castle remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Switzerland. The awe-inspiring beauty of the outside of this massive construct is rivaled only by the sheer size and detail of the castle’s interior. Visitors are able to go underground to view the cavernous underbelly of the castle, where prisoners were kept. There are also four large halls in the castle, where the Savoys, and other residents throughout history, held balls and feasts. The large chambers have massive windows that look down on Lake Geneva. Guests also have access to the chapel, bedrooms, courtyards and defenses area where sentries monitored the sea. The image of Chillon Castle set against the marvelous Swiss Alps, and rising up, seemingly right out of Lake Geneva, is an amazing sight.
Of all the popular castles in Switzerland, Aigle Castle also ranks near the top. It is located in the Rhone Valley at the foothills of the Vaudois Alps. The castle is situated in the middle of acres of sprawling vineyard that have been productive since the twelfth century. Italian and French cultural influences and traditions meld together in the village’s restaurants and various shops and attractions. This part of Switzerland is popular for winter sports, and tourists who head to the canton of Vaud for hiking or skiing, should put a trip to the intimidating and magnificent Aigle Castle on their to-do list.
Some of the Swiss castles, to this very day, remain in very good condition. Normally, this is from concerted efforts to maintain and restore the buildings over time. Others, however, are not in quite as good condition, but maintain their historical value and significance. The Schauenberg is a Switzerland castle in Zurich. This castle now lies in ruin at Turbenthal, the capital of Zurich, and has endured many changes over the years. At one time, it was a fortress. Tourists to this region work a hike through Turbenthal into their schedule to explore the ruins of this castle. Even the Swiss castles in relative disrepair are enthralling, and Schauenberg Castle is no exception.
If the marvel of the Swiss Alps, the beauty of the alpine forests, or the sight of places like Lake Geneva were not enough to draw tourists, then certainly people will be drawn by the prospect of exploring some of the many castles in Switzerland. Coupled with the raw natural beauty of the land, the Swiss castles are a sight to see, and give a unique glance into the long history of Europe.