A brief history of Chillon Castle
The beautifully located Chillon Castle, or “Château de Chillon” in French, dates back to the 12th century. Its first written testimony appeared in 1150. By that time, the Counts of Savoy controlled the fort. It was gradually expanded over the following centuries, and served as a fort, arsenal and prison. The Bernese habitants took it over for a while, until the Vaudois Revolution of 1798 when the castle’s ownership passed on to the Canton of Vaud. By that time, it began to attract writers and artists. A major restoration project was started by the end of the 19th century, and is still going on today.
How to get there and how to find your way.
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What a visit to the castle looks like
You can explore the castle on your own, using one of the information brochures available in many languages and reading the information on signs. Optionally, you can rent an audio guide for more information and background stories. While strolling through the ancient building and courtyards, you’ll learn about the history of the castle and its surroundings. The property consists of several sections, including underground chambers, courtyards, the great halls, several themed chambers, a weapons’ room and a chapel.
Not only the castle’s history can be explored. The building houses several (temporary) exhibitions on varying cultural subjects and art as well. It also has a connection to wine, which goes for pretty much the entire Lavaux region on the northern shores of eastern Lake Geneva. The winemaker in charge grows grapes at the castle’s own 12.500 m2 vineyard, and both red and white wines are produced.
If you want to take a break, you can do so at the nice picnic spot next to the castle, or grab a bite in the adjacent restaurant Taverne de Chillon. Toilets and luggage lockers are available. After your visit, you may want to shop for some souvenirs or bring along a bottle of wine from one of the shops.
How to prepare
No special preparations are needed for a visit to the castle. As most of your exploration will be indoor, clear weather isn’t required. There’s a lot to explore, so a visit will easily take half a day or even, if you take your time and plan some breaks, a whole day. A quicker exploration can be done within 1,5 to 2 hours.
Combine your castle visit with other activities
The fortress is located right along the northern shores of Lake Geneva, so you can easily combine your visit with a boat trip. A visit to Rochers-de-Naye or the nearby towns Montreux or Lausanne can be added too. For those traveling between the regions of Lake Geneva and the Valais (such as Sion, Brig or Zermatt), a visit to the castle can be a nice break during the trip.