Chillon Castle is a top historical attraction in Switzerland. While its true age has yet to be determined, evidence of this Swiss castle on the eastern shore of Lake Geneva appears in a written document from the year 1150. As is true of many castles across Europe, it has been modified over the centuries, and today, visitors can marvel at its mix of architectural styles. Chateau de Chillon, as the castle is locally known, is open to the public, so visitors can step inside for a look around. They can also admire the stunning lake and mountain scenery from the castle grounds.
The Counts of Savoy were in possession of Chillon Castle in 1150, and they didn't relinquish their control of the lakefront fortress until 1536. This was when the Bernese took over, and they occupied the structure until 1798. The next period in Chillon Castle history is the Vaudois period, and it has managed to extend itself until the present day. It is during the Vaudois period that Chateau de Chillon started to transform itself from a fortress and prison into a tourist attraction, and this had much to do with its romantic appeal. It was perhaps Lord Byron who is most credited with putting the castle on the tourist map, however. In 1816, he penned his famous poem The Prisoner of Chillon, which dealt with the ordeals of an imprisoned monk and politician, and this brought increased attention to the site.
Chillon Castle stands majestically on the shore of Lake Geneva, and the rising Alps serve as the backdrop. The setting is about as pristine as it gets, and it is only complemented by the appealing design of the castle itself. Chateau de Chillon is primarily medieval in appearance, and thanks to renovations over the years, it is very well-preserved. Towers, turrets, and a variety of other touches that you might expect a castle to have are all in place, and it's not hard to understand why artists and writers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Lord Byron have long been inspired by its glory. It's not all about the exterior, however. There is plenty to see inside Chateau de Chillon.
There are many highlights when it comes to taking a tour of the Chillon Castle interior. Visitors can explore underground rooms that feature a beautiful, yet eerie gothic design, and in the four different great halls, you can imagine the lavish banquets that were once held at the castle. Several of the main rooms have been recreated in an attempt to give insight into the history of the place, and these rooms include a series of bedrooms. Also of considerable interest is the small chapel, which is architecturally impressive, and art enthusiasts are likely to be awe-inspired by the murals and paintings that are found in both the chapel and the "Camera domini" room. These murals and paintings are from the fourteenth century and feature a variety of fascinating medieval symbols.
Other things that visitors won't want to miss while visiting Chillon Castle are the defenses that are found on the complex's mountain side and the three main courtyards. Often times, the courtyards are used to stage various events and performances. Many of these events and performances revolve around the rich history of the castle. You can also hold your own events at Chillon Castle. Various venues are available for things such as weddings and receptions, and from June to October, the castle's beach can be rented for barbecue parties on the water and things the like. As for visits that are of the more general variety, the Chillon Castle is open every day of the year, save for Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The hours vary according to season, and there is an admission fee. Audio tours and guided tours can be enjoyed for an added fee.
Chateau de Chillon is found on the opposite end of Lake Geneva as the city of Geneva and has a physical address of Avenue de Chillon 21. Nearby is also Aigle Castle. The closest municipalities are Villeneuve, which is just a couple miles away, and the larger Montreux, which is also nearby. You can walk to the castle from both Villeneuve and Montreux, or you can take a bus or a boat. Driving over is also an option, and should you be considering this option, there is a free parking lot in front of the castle. The walk to Chillon Castle takes about 20 minutes from Villeneuve and 40 minutes from Montreux.