Tourist’s guide to Chillon Castle – an important attraction of Switzerland

Chillon Castle is the most famous attraction not only of the Swiss Riviera, but of Switzerland as a whole. The fortress is located near the city of Montreux.

Chillon castle

General information

Chillon Castle was built on a low cliff off the shore of Lake Geneva. The fortress can be divided into two parts: the first, residential, located on the lake side, and the defensive – on the side of the road. In total, the castle complex includes 25 buildings of different times of construction.

Chillon castle, view from the bridge

Photos of the Chillon Castle fascinate with its beauty and mystery, and therefore more than 1,000,000 people visit this place every year.

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Historical notes

The history of the castle was influenced by 3 main periods.

1. The Savoy period (from the 12th century to 1536)
Chillon castle in the 13th century

The first mention of the Chillon cliff dates back to the Bronze Age. At the time of the Roman Empire, there was an outpost, the ruins of which were found by archaeologists (according to one of the many versions, the fortress was laid by the Romans). The fortress itself was first mentioned in 1160, as a family estate of the Counts of Savoy (scientists suggest that the first structures were built much earlier – back in the early 9th century).

Over the course of 5 centuries, the appearance of the castle did not change, and only in the 13th century it was decided to strengthen the building: several towers were completed and some rooms were expanded.

2. The Berne period (1536-1798)
Chillon castle from the 15th century

In the 14th century, the picturesque castle of Switzerland became a prison. It contained only noble criminals – for example, the abbot of Vala from Corvey or the abbot of the local monastery, Francois Bonivar (according to literary scholars, Byron wrote about this man in his famous poem). In the middle of the XIV century, during the plague epidemic, the fortress became a prison for Jews, who were accused of poisoning water sources.

2. The Vaud period (from 1798 to the present)
Byron autograph

In 1798, during the Vaudua revolution, the berets left the castle and it became the property of the canton of Vaud. At first, the building was used to store weapons and ammunition, and also as a prison.

It is interesting that Chillon Castle became famous relatively recently – only in 1816, when the famous writer George Byron dedicated the poem “Prisoner of Chillon” to him.

Since the 1820s and to this day there is a museum.

Castle structure

For many centuries, the building was an important defensive structure in Switzerland, so its many owners always took care of the condition of the walls and loopholes, put a lot of effort to reconstruct and strengthen the fortifications. The building acquired its attractive appearance even under the counts of Savoy in the 12th century.

It is interesting! The name of Chillon Castle from Celtic is translated only as a “stone platform”.

First Courtyard of Chillon Castle

Today, the most famous museum in Switzerland consists of 25 buildings and three courtyards, which are protected from the road by two high walls. In the center of the large courtyard is the main tower, and on the sides of the castle are a few more sentinels. Unlike other similar structures, the Swiss Chillon Castle has an oval shape (like the island itself).

Castle architecture that can be seen

Chillon Castle consists of many rooms, each of which reflects the life and customs of one of the former owners. Here you can see pompous living rooms, and many inexpressive utility rooms. In total, the castle has 4 halls: ceremonial, stamp, military and guest. They are distinguished from the rest of the rooms by high vaulted ceilings and huge fireplaces. The view from the windows of the halls is impressive – the picturesque Lake Geneva and the pine forest in the distance.

Bernese bedroom
Bernese bedroom

One of the most interesting rooms is the Bernese bedroom. It has been preserved in its original form: here, as before, there is a fireplace stove, as well as a small bed (in those days people slept in a sitting position). An interesting feature of the room is that in the corner of the bedroom there is a small opening, which is the beginning of a long and very narrow corridor connected to the guest bedroom.

Bathroom
Bathroom

The bathroom is also interesting: the toilets and the bath itself are made of wood, which over the centuries has managed to peel and damp. In those days, there was no sewage, which means that everything was washed off directly into the lake.

Basement
Basement of Chillon Castle

It is worth recalling about the dungeons, which occupy even a larger territory than the fortress itself. The style of the dungeon is reminiscent of 13th century Gothic cathedrals: high ceilings, long corridors through which the wind walks, and huge pieces of rocks protruding directly from the damp walls.

Walking through these rooms, it becomes clear why Byron decided to write a poem about this place: perhaps, a more mysterious and mysterious atmosphere can not be found anywhere. No wonder it was in the walls of the Chillon Castle that many legends and myths about ghosts and valiant warriors were formed.

Installation of devils in Chillon Castle
Projection of the Shadows of the Past

By the way, every guest of Switzerland can feel for himself the whole mystery of the castle: in one of the underground halls a surprisingly realistic decoration is installed: the shadows of the past that are projected onto the walls of the ancient basement. The projector is installed so that among the shadows of counts, monks and other noble people, tourists can see their silhouettes.

Storage and manufacture of local wines

Today, the dungeons of Chillon Castle are used to store and make local wines. The vineyard itself, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, can be found nearby – it extends from the fortress to the very shore of the lake.

Over the past centuries, the life of the Chillon Castle has changed quite a bit: a lot of different people come here, as before, but you can see modern furniture in several rooms – local businessmen rent out premises, and weddings, anniversaries and other special occasions are often held here.

Opening hours and cost of visiting

The Chillon Castle in Montreux can be visited on any day, with the exception of the Christmas holidays – January 1 and December 25. The work schedule is as follows:

  • From April to September – 9.00-19.00
  • October – 9.30-18.00
  • from November to February – 10.00-17.00
  • March – 9.30-18.00

It should be remembered that you can enter the museum no later than an hour before closing.

Ticket Office of Chillon Castle

Tickets in francs:

  • adult – 12.50;
  • children – 6;
  • students, pensioners, Swiss military personnel – 10.50;
  • family – 29;
  • Holders of Montreux Riviera Card Adult – 6.25;
  • Montreux Riviera Card Child cardholders – 3.00;
  • with a Swiss Travel Pass, Swiss Museum Pass, ICOM card – free of charge;
  • with Club 24 card (2 people can use one card) – 9.50.

At the box office of the castle you will be given a free guide in Russian. It is also possible to purchase an audio guide in Russian. Cost – 6 francs.

Prices on the page are for January 2018. You can check the relevance on the castle’s official website www.chillon.ch.

How to get there

Chillon is located 3 km from the city of Montreux, so getting here is not difficult:

By car
Chillon castle, aerial view

Switzerland and Italy are connected by the E27 highway, which runs just around Chillon. In order to get to the sights, you need to follow the A9 road and turn onto Montreux or Villeneuve (depending on which side you are on). Parking at the castle is paid (can be paid at the entrance).

By bus

You can get to the castle by bus number 201, which goes from Vevey and Villeneuve. The stop is Chillon. Buses run every 10-20 minutes. Ticket price – 3-4 francs.

On a boat
By boat to the Chillon stop

Ships and ferries run every 5-10 minutes. in high season, so getting from Lausanne, Vevey, Montreux and Villeneuve will not be difficult. The boat stop is Chillon (about 100 meters from the castle). Ticket price – 3-4 francs.

By train

Switzerland is famous for its high-speed trains, so experienced travelers are advised to get to Chillon Castle by rail. A direct train from Montreux to Chillon takes less than 15 minutes, and during this time you will have time to enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the lake. Get off at the Veytaux-Chillon train station (about 100 meters from the castle). Cost – 4-5 francs. When you purchase a train ticket, you will also receive a 20% discount on visiting the castle.

On foot
Walk to Chillon

Yet the best way to get to Chillon is to come on foot. The distance from Montreux to the castle can be overcome in 45 minutes (4 km). Switzerland is a fabulously beautiful country, so during a walk you will have time to admire the beauty of the mountains and dense forests. In addition, a picturesque “flower path” leads to the castle from the city. Near the fortress there is also a beautiful beach, which is allowed to sunbathe and swim.

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Useful Tips

  1. When buying a ticket at the box office, you will be offered to take an audio guide in Russian for 6 francs. However, do not rush to buy it. There are really no guides and guards at Chillon Castle, and there will be no one to ask. However, most travelers are not advised to purchase an audio guide, as the brochure, which is issued free of charge at the box office, has everything.
  2. Visit Chillon is best in the morning. In the evening, as a rule, much more tourists come. However, if you arrive by car – there is no cause for concern. In the huge parking lot you are sure to find a place.
  3. View from the site of the Swiss Chillon
  4. The observation deck of the Swiss Chillon is not very popular, but it is definitely worth a visit. An impressive view of Lake Geneva and the surrounding area opens from above.
  5. Near the castle you can find a number of souvenir shops that sell magnets, cups and local wine. However, prices for similar goods are much higher than, for example, in Geneva. As for the wine, then it is not particularly recommended by tourists. It is better to go to a nearby store and buy a couple of cheaper and higher-quality wines.
  6. Many tourists come to Chillon only for a few hours. And in vain: Switzerland is famous for its natural attractions, which are worth paying attention to. The most famous of them is Lake Geneva.

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Chillon Castle is one of the most famous historical sights of Switzerland, and therefore it is definitely worth a visit!

You will find out some more useful information about the castle by watching the video.



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