Featured in Lord Byron’s poem The Prisoner of Chillon and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s novel Julie, or the New Heloise, the Château de Chillon in Switzerland is a dashingly handsome fortress you must see…!!
You can unlock the secrets of the past in this castle that stands atop a rock in good condition since the 11th century.
This stunning medieval fortress snuggles itself outside Montreux and has an idyllic setting, a shadowed past and a dungeon that has inspired numerous painters and poets.
Try visiting this castle when the crowds die out to experience history, luxury and some stunning views that can inspire you towards the rhapsody and the esoteric…!!
And to get yourself prepared to make a trip, pin your eyeballs into this post to know all that awaits beyond you.
So, here we open the doors of the Château de Chillon…
1. Experience Life in the Chillon Castle for a Day
Located 4km in Montreux’s Southeast and 40 km from Lausanne in Switzi stands this most visited historic spot- The Château de Chillon!
This dream-like castle looks as if it was resurrected abruptly from Lake Geneva (Lac Leman).
There are tonnes of things both inside and outside the Château de Chillon to entertain your eyes for a day!
From courtyards, halls, dungeons, towers, massive banquet rooms and open fireplaces…
…artwork, furniture, and numerous armaments to the breathtaking views of Lake Geneva looking out from the lead latticed windows.
So, ensure to leave plenty of time to look around and obtain some mind-blowing castle experience in Switzerland.
Ultimately, the best part of the castle is not its construction but rather its locale.
Its strategic position that offers a grand view of the Alps makes it a top attraction over the stone or its walls.
However, you can find a garden just beside the castle outside that offers gorgeous views of castle towers and the walls.
Nevertheless, you can find a tiny restaurant here to grab some drinks and snacks while enjoying the view.
Insider tip: Try Café Byron for a quick coffee with a gorgeous castle and lake view. But you better head off to Montreux for food!
Also, you take a trip by foot from Montreux to Chillon Castle along the lake’s mouth and enjoy the view if the weather permits.
Wondering how to get the Chateau de Chillon pronunciation right? Then you are the best person to click here!
2. Luxury Living, with the Touch of the Past
Okay, now let’s put our senses back in time and escape reality to know when was Chillon Castle built and the real history involved…!!
The secret here is you will never get such a simplified version anywhere, so keep your eyes open as we drain it straight from the castle to your devices (hehe!).
Archaeological excavations show that the Château de Chillon was occupied since the Bronze Age.
But the written records have been sourced since the 11th century, precisely from 1150.
The structure you see today was built in the 13th century by Pierre II of Savoy, and it became a summer parlour from a fortress to the ruling Savoy family.
In detail, the Château de Chillon’s history can be classified into three distinct bygone eras:
- The Savoy Period (12th century to 1536)
- The Bernese Period (1536 to 1798)
- The Vaudois Period (1798 to today)
Now you can peep into each era right here…!!
2.1 The Savoy Period
Suckers! They used this strategically built fortress to profit themselves from the north-to-south Via Francigena route that crossed the front end of the fort.
As travellers, merchants and pilgrims headed to Rome through the Great Saint Bernard Alpine Pass, they generously filled the coffers of the Counts of Savoy.
Later in the 13th century, the castle became a summer residence for Peter II of Savoy. Its subterranean vaults were converted into jails.
François Bonivard, a nobleman, historian and libertine, was this castle’s renowned prisoner.
He languished in the dungeon’s dark depths for six years in the 16th century.
Because he preached about reformation and spoke out contrary to the corruption of the ‘Old Faith’.
However, he became a kind of hero and was immortalised later in the poem The Prisoner of Chillon by Lord Byron.
Byron was impressed by the architectural feat of the dungeons created from cut rocks in the castle’s base.
That’s why he etched his name on one of the gothic pillars of the castle, which you can find there even today (some say it’s a fake signature, though, so go and check it yourself)!
Interesting fact: Did you know? Bonivard was not the only prisoner in the dungeons.
During the 1348 devastating plague, the Jewish townsfolk from Villeneuve were imprisoned and tortured in the dungeons.
They were accused of causing the Black Death to destroy Christianity by poisoning food and the wells.
You can never comprehend the horror of their captivity, but it’s best that we don’t think about the ignorance and cruelty within the walls here!
2.2 The Bernese Period
Thinking if the Château de Chillon was attacked in history?
Well, during this time, the Savoy became careless and neglected the castle in favour of other castles.
That paved the way for the Bernese to invade it in 1563 after conquering the Pays de Vaud.
Now, it became an enduring residence for bailiffs who used it as a stronghold, prison, arsenal, and storage.
However, the bailiffs vacated the castle and inched up sticks for more contemporary, comfortable digs.
2.3 The Vaudois Period
Since the Vaud Revolution in 1798, the castle was seized from the Bernese bailiffs by patriots of Vevey and Montreux.
The surprise here is that the bailiffs left the castle to the invaders after the fight in just two days.
From here onwards, the canton of Vaud owned the castle to store ammunition and weapons and made it a state prison.
And this was the time when Bonivard was released.
Later, in the 19th century, restoration of the castle began, which paved the way to make it a popular attraction in Switzerland.
Occasionally, this place hosts events like musical concerts.
Did you know?
You might think that the locale of the Château de Chillon in Switzerland was peaceful.
But it does have a horrifying history!
It was a hotbed for witch-hunting. Over 2,000 deaths were attributed to the killing of witches, and this castle was not an exception.
And in 1613, 27 witches were burned as a group in the castle’s courtyard.
Fun fact: Wondering what the castle toilets might look like? Well, you can find the picture right here…
You will be astonished to know that it was just two holes during the Middle Ages!
3. Escape Reality and Live for a Day in the Chillon Castle
Wow! It is time to wake up from visiting the past in a modern-day setting.
Here, we sojourn through different modes of transport for you to experience history come alive at the castle…
Don’t worry; taking a day trip to the Château de Chillon in Switzerland is pretty easy and effortless.
You can walk or take public transport like a bus, train or boat. So, continue reading as we unfurl these pathways to get you to the castle!
3.1 By Train
This is the No. 1 most accessible way to get to the Château de Chillon. All you need to do is to board the local Swiss train from Montreux or Villeneuve.
From Montreux, the travel takes just 3 or 4 minutes, and after that, you need to take a 5-minute walk to the Château de Chillon.
In between your journey, you get a chance to get some stunning views of a beautiful lake.
From Veytaux to Château de Chillon, there are regional trains available.
Check the schedules before you board!
3.2 By Bus
Bus services are readily available from Montreux, Villeneuve or Vevey. Take bus number 201 to reach the Chillon stop.
From there, you have to walk up to 3 minutes to reach Château de Chillon.
Buses stop just before the castle every 10-20 minutes.
3.3 By Boat
This is one of the loveliest experiences you can get on your way to the Château de Chillon.
If you are going to the castle in summer, try it if the budget permits.
Trips are starting from Montreux, Villeneuve, and Lausanne to Chillon Castle by boat, and you just need to walk for 2 or 3 minutes from the boat dock to the Chillon Castle entrance.
But if you take a day trip in winter, it’s best to avoid this option as the climate is chilly and the water loses its charm.
4. A Dream Come True: The Best Time to Reach The Château de Chillon
The Chillon Castle has hundreds of visitors landing annually. So, it is best to reach the castle early in the morning.
Also, this is the time you can get some pretty good Chillon Castle photos without people sticking to them.
It usually gets crowded in the afternoon or mid-day.
Book your slot for autumn or spring if you wish to enjoy the castle with mild weather conditions.
On the other hand, summer offers some excellent evening tours and stunning photographs of the sunsets reflecting on the lake.
Additionally, the castle is open over the closing time for you to explore and enjoy!
You can also get numerous vantage points inside and outside the castle of the beautiful scenery that covers the horizon.
Also, avoid weekends and the peak summer season.
5. Exploring the Château de Chillon in Switzerland
Here, we jump in to explore what to adhere to at the Château de Chillon.
5.1 Chillon Castle Opening Times
Ideally, the gates are open daily for tourists from 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. However, opening hours are subject to change depending on the number of visitors;
- January, February, November and December- 10 am to 4 pm.
- March and October- 9.30 am to 5 pm.
- From April to September- 9 am to 6 pm.
Your prime tour will be indoors in the castle, which requires up to a day, depending on the time you allocate for the trip.
If you are short of time, you can complete it in 2 or 3 hours.
While exploring, you can choose to rent an audio guide or brochure with you as you tag along to learn more about the story behind the scenes of the Château de Chillon.
Here’s the address from Google Maps!
Address: Avenue de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux, Switzerland.
5.2 Chillon Castle Tickets
Don’t worry about the price, as the tickets are pretty reasonable, especially for students and children.
However, they might fluctuate depending on the crowds, special events or themed days.
So, you need to book in advance online on the official website…!!
Here’s the price list that is ideally followed;
- Senior: 11.5 CHF
- Adult – 12 CHF
- Child (6-16 years) – 6 CHF
- Students – 10 CHF
Family tickets are also available. It is CHF35, which includes two adults and five children.
Opting for a guided tour is available. But you must reserve it before the requested date (up to two working days).
Trust me, you will NEVER get bored walking through the castle, and it’s a BIG FAT YES that the Château de Chillon is a worthwhile place!
Fascinating Fact: Did you know? The Chillon Castle produces its own wine from the region’s white Chasselas grape.
These vineyards spread over 12,500 sq m close to the castle on the slopes. Also, they are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Lavaux.
If you want, try out a bottle at their museum shop…!!
6. Closing the Château de Chillon
Chillon Castle is a beautiful must-visit place for every tourist stepping on the shores of Switzerland.
This is an easily accessible place, and there are many routes you can choose to reach it.
Ultimately, if you wish to unloose from the 21st century and traverse the medieval ages to glimpse castles, Château de Chillon is THE place to go…!!