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🏰 Chillon Castle

Website
Address
Avenue de Chillon 21, 1820 Veytaux
Phone 1
Keyword
2016 April, Excursions
  • Date de Visite
    07.04.2016 && 20.06.2017 && 19.07.2016
  • Fréquentation
    405'000 (2017)
  • GPS
    46.41397 6.92763

Logo Chillon castle

The Chillon castle, king of castles


Chillon Castle is the most beautiful castle in Switzerland and is the most visited site in French-speaking Switzerland with the Cailler House. It is located in the commune of Veytaux near Montreux in the Canton of Vaud and benefits from a strategic position at a gully between Lake Geneva and the steep rock face leading to the Rochers de Naye, which allows it to monitor the transit towards the Great Saint Bernard region. The castle itself is built on a rocky islet surrounded by water a few metres from the shore, giving it a privileged defensive position.

Chillon Castle
Chillon Castle

The Cailler House, the Rochers de Naye montain and the Great Saint Bernard pass.
The Cailler House is one of the most visited museums in French-speaking Switzerland with the Chillon castle Les Rochers de Naye above the Chillon castle The Great Saint Bernard pass used at the time to go to the Chillon castle

Access


Parking spaces along the cantonal road just before the castle coming from Villeneuve.

A must to visit


Chillon Castle is, with the Grande Dixence dam, the most impressive site in French-speaking Switzerland and a must to visit. An signposted route allows you to discover the entire castle and obtain all the useful information. The castle has kept its medieval exterior aspect while the interior allows you to fully appreciate the life in the castle at the time. Fortunately, it does not host museums that significantly alter the nature of the interior of a castle, as is the case in Morges or Yverdon, but rather appropriate thematic exhibitions.

The entrance to the castle with the Savoyard crest. A footbridge replaced the drawbridge in 1750.
Chillon Castle from the shore

Around the imposing keep in the centre of the castle, there are ramparts and towers along several defensive axes built at different times and following the oval rock on which the castle of Chillon rests. From the castle or the gardens along the lake, the view of Lake Geneva and the “Dents du Midi” is beautiful.

The double fortification on the shore side with the keep on which the Swiss flag is flown.
The castle of Chillon seen from the airplane

The rates


The entrance fees to Chillon Castle are as follows:

  • Adults: 12.50 francs
  • Children: 6.50 francs
  • Students, apprentices, pensioners: 10.50 francs

The castle is open approximately between 10am and 6pm with seasonal variations. However, we can still strongly regret a very early closure to the visit at 6pm (!) and shops before 7pm even in the middle of summer. This clearly seems to us to be an aberration from a tourist point of view.

From the castle creation until the 15th century


A presence on the oval islet hosting the castle of Chillon is attested since 1800 BC, then in Roman times with wooden structures. The construction of the castle, whose name “Chillon” means “stone” because of the rock on which it is built, took place over centuries and probably began in the 9th century. A large part was built from the middle of the 11th century to the middle of the 12th and, in 1150, it was ceded by the Bishop of Zion to the Counts of Savoy under circumstances not elucidated by the archives. The ownership of the castle allows Savoie to obtain a base for territorial conquests in the Pays de Vaud. The castle was further improved during the 13th and 14th centuries when it acquired its present appearance. In 1200, Duke Berchtold of Zähringuen besieged the castle in order to access the lake from his territory but suffered a bitter defeat. A notorious stay took place in 1442 with the antipope Felix V, also known as Amédée VIII, Duke of Savoy.

Duke Berchtold of Zähringuen and his wife with the city of Bern at the far right with the old city crest. The Felix V antipope. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Duke Berchtold of Zähringuen and his wife with the city of Bern at the far right with the old city crest. A notorious stay at Chillon Castle took place in 1442 with the antipope Felix V, also known as Amédée VIII, Duke of Savoy

From the Burgundy Wars to “Pays de Vaud” Independence


During the Burgundian Wars from 1474 to 1477, the Bernese attacked a large number of castles in the Pays de Vaud except that of Chillon because of its defensive power, but in 1536 during the conquest of the Pays de Vaud, they besieged it with the Genevans who came with their fleet. The Château fell almost without a fight after the Savoyard castleman fled by the lake. The Pays de Vaud is a territory that occupied the current cantons of Vaud as well as the south of the canton of Fribourg.

A famous prisoner, the Geneva clergyman François Bonivard, was released on this occasion after 6 years of captivity. You can see in the basement of the castle the pillar around which it was attached. In 1803, after the independence of the Canton of Vaud and the invasion of Napoleonic troops, the castle became the property of the brand new canton of Vaud, which transformed it into a prison and arsenal.

The basement of the Chillon castle where François Bonivard was attached.
The basement of the Chillon castle where François Bonivard was attached.

The back door, in the middle at the bottom, giving access to the lake. It is from this door that the Savoyard leaders of the castle escaped by boat in 1536.
The chillon castle from Lake Geneva

The restoration of Chillon Castle


At the end of the 19th century, restorations were undertaken under the supervision of archaeologist Pierre Naef. He had a special life as he briefly enlisted in the German Imperial Navy at the age of 17, then travelled to Europe before returning to Lausanne where he was born. For 20 years he directed the restoration work during which the moats between the castle and the shoreline were cleared after they had been filled in the past. Thanks to his work, he became a leading figure in the field of historical restoration and the demands placed on him came from Switzerland and Europe. In 1936, he was murdered by his second and young wife at the age of 75 with a revolver bullet. The opening of the castle to the public is very old and dates back to 1887, the date of the beginning of restoration.

Two old photos dating from around 1860-1890 with the appearance of the railway on a single track. The line will be doubled in 1900.
The chillon castle in the 19th century The chillon castle in the 19th century

The infrastructures built near the Chillon castle


Chillon Fort


The Chillon fort was built in 1941 in the rock opposite the castle on the other side of the cantonal road. Its entrance is “hidden” next to the bus stop. It was decommissioned militarily in 1994. The Chillon fort was part of an outpost of the Saint-Maurice fortress whose heart was the Dailly fort and which controlled access to the Valais Alpine passes.

The entrance to the fort of Chillon next to the Chillon castle The entrance to the fort of Chillon next to the Chillon castle

The Veytaux pumped storage station


The station of Veytaux is built in the rock a few dozen meters from the castle of Chillon. It allows either to pump the water from Lake Geneva up into the Hongrin dam or, in the opposite direction, to turbine the water falling from the Hongrin reservoir. The Hongrin hydroelectric complex has the particularity, with the penstock connecting the Hongrin dam to the Veytaux plant, of changing the natural flow of water from the North Sea catchment area to the Mediterranean.

the Veytaux hydroelectric plant next to Chillon castle the Veytaux hydroelectric plant next to Chillon castle 

The double vault of the Hongrin dam.
The hongrin dam, whose waters are turbined by the Veytaux factory next to the Chillon castle

The Chillon motorway viaduct


The viaduct was built between 1966 and 1969 just above Chillon Castle. It has pillars nearly 50 metres high. An article in the 24 Heures newspaper offers some photos of its construction. At the time, the viaduct was preferred to a tunnel for financial reasons.

The motorway viaduct above the Chillon castle The motorway viaduct above the Chillon castle

The beach


The very pretty and bucolic little beach of Chillon is located a few meters from the castle towards Montreux. Space is available for barbecues.

 The picturesque beach just a few meters from the castle of Chillon towards Montreux

The Chillon landing stage


The Chillon landing stage of the Compagnie Générale de Navigation (CGN) allows you to come to the castle in an original way. The “Riviera Tour” allows you to travel by boat in the form of a loop through the ports of Vevey Marché, Vevey La Tour, Clarens, Montreux, Territet, Château de Chillon, Villeneuve, Le Bouveret, Saint-Gingolf and back to Vevey by crossing the lake.

A CGN boat goes to the port of Chillon Castle.
View of the lake from Chillon Castle A CGN boat goes to the port of Chillon Castle. Un bateau de la CGN se rend au port du Château de Chillon.

The Chillon castle, a source of inspiration


Chillon Castle is one of the symbols of Switzerland and has inspired many artistic creations. For example, an old animated metal model at the Cantonal Museum of Archaeology and History of the Palais de Rumine in Lausanne or a painting by Gustave Courbet.

An animated model of Chillon Castle and an oil on canvas exhibited at the Belfort Museum of Fine Arts painted by Gustave Courbet in the 19th century.
animated model of the Chillon castle Oil on canvas of the castle of chateau at the Museum of Fine Arts in Belfort painted by Gustave Courbet Video

Video


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Historical building in French-speaking Switzerland
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