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Chillon Castle (French: Château de Chillon) is an island castle located on Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), south of Veytaux in the canton of Vaud. It is situated at the eastern end of the lake, on the narrow shore between Montreux and Villeneuve, which gives access to the Alpine valley of the Rhône. Chillon is amongst the most visited castles in Switzerland and Europe.[1]

Château de Chillon
Castle of Chillon N.jpg
View from the north, with the Dents du Midi in the background
Chillon Castle is located in Canton of Vaud
Chillon Castle
Location within Canton of Vaud
Chillon Castle is located in Switzerland
Chillon Castle
Chillon Castle (Switzerland)
General information
Architectural styleMedieval
ClassificationHistoric monument
Town or cityVeytaux
Coordinates46°24′51″N 6°55′39″E / 46.414167°N 6.9275°E / 46.414167; 6.9275



Chillon began as a Roman outpost, guarding the strategic road through the Alpine passes.[2] The later history of Chillon was influenced by three major periods: the Savoy Period, the Bernese Period, and the Vaudois Period.[3]

Savoy periodEdit

Arms of the House of Savoy

The oldest parts of the castle have not been definitively dated, but the first written record of the castle was in 1005.[4] It was built to control the road from Burgundy to the Great Saint Bernard Pass[5] From the mid 12th century, the castle was summer home to the Counts of Savoy, who kept a fleet of ships on Lake Geneva. The castle was greatly expanded in 1248[6] by Peter II.[7]

Chillon as a prisonEdit

During the 16th century Wars of Religion, it was used by the dukes of Savoy to house prisoners. Its most famous prisoner was probably François de Bonivard, a Genevois monk, prior of St. Victor in Geneva and politician who was imprisoned there in 1530 for defending his homeland from the dukes of Savoy.[8]

Bernese periodEdit

Over his six-year term, de Bonivard paced as far as his chain would allow, and the chain and rut are still visible. He was rescued in 1536 by his countrymen and Bernese, who took the castle by force. The prison was residence for the Bernese bailiff until Chillon was converted into a state prison in 1733.[9]

Vaudois periodEdit

In 1798, the French-speaking canton of Vaud drove out the German-speaking Bernese authorities and declared the Lemanic Republic. The Vaudois invited in French troops to help them maintain autonomy from the other Swiss. When the French moved in and occupied, Chillon was used as a munitions and weapons depot.[10]


Chillon is open to the public for visits and tours. According to the castle website, Chillon is listed as "Switzerland's most visited historic monument".[11] There is a fee for entrance and there are both parking spaces and a bus stop nearby for travel. Inside the castle there are several recreations of the interiors of some of the main rooms including the grand bedroom, hall, and cave stores. Inside the castle itself there are four great halls, three courtyards, and a series of bedrooms open to the public. One of the oldest is the Camera domini, which was a room occupied by the Duke of Savoy - it is decorated with 14th century medieval murals.[12]

Popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit

Chromolithograph of Chillon by Helga von Cramm with a Havergal prayer, hymn or poem, c. 1878.


  1. ^ Mc Currach, Ian (27 April 2003). "One Hour From: Geneva". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
  2. ^ de Fabianis, p. 176.
  3. ^ "Château de Chillon - History overview". Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  4. ^ According to publication Chillon by Auguste Guignard (former secretary of the Association for the Restoration of the Chillon Castle), published by Ruckstuhl SA (Renens, Switzerland) in 1996: "The oldest historical document relating to Chillon bears the date 1005, and from this it is seen that the castle belonged to the bishops of Sion, who confided its care to the d'Alinge family."
  5. ^ de Fabianis, p. 175.
  6. ^ de Fabianis, p. 175.
  7. ^ Cox 1967, p. 20.
  8. ^ de Fabianis, p. 175.
  9. ^ de Fabianis, p. 175.
  10. ^ de Fabianis, p. 175.
  11. ^ "Chillon Website - Main Page". Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  12. ^ "Chillon Website - Rooms". Retrieved 2013-01-13.
  13. ^ Morton, Caitlin (14 June 2017). "17 Real-World Locations That Inspired Disney Movies". Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved 3 April 2018.


  • Cox, Eugene L. (1967). The Green Count of Savoy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. LCCN 67-11030.
  • de Fabianis, Valeria, ed. (2013). Castles of the World. New York: Metro Books.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) ISBN 978-1-4351-4845-1

External linksEdit