Located on the shores of Lake Geneva between Lausanne and Montreaux, Chillon Castle is a beautiful, historic site. The site has been in use since Roman times. The oldest parts of the current buildings are not definitively dated, but the first references to Chillon castle date back to 1005. Chillon has served as a strategic military post, a prison, a munitions warehouse, and a tourist attraction. In fact, Chillon Castle is reported to be the most visited historic site in Switzerland.
- The Castle Grounds: You can walk around the grounds or participate in a guided tour (entrance requires a fee). Walking through the heavily gated entrance you can feel yourself walk back in time. Chillon Castel is a big site and you can spend the better part of a day here. Tested Travel likes a few of their spaces best:
- Courtyard — Here you can really feel what it might have been like to see the tradesmen working or merchants selling wares. There are often demonstrations going on which really give you a feel for the life at Chillon.
- Great Halls — There are three Great Halls and all overlook Lake Geneva (talk about a room with a view!). The beautiful beamed ceilings and painted walls give a sense of the regal and important gatherings held here.
- Underground Rooms — Of course, one should not miss a visit to the underground! The underground and prison rooms feature large pillars and rooms carved from the stone walls. These caves were memorialized by the poet Byron in his work “Prisoner of Chillon” which told the tale of the imprisonment of Bonivard.
- Activities: As an historic and tourist site, Chillon does a great job of offering a number of festivals, special exhibits, and activities. It was great fun to visit during one festival where they cooked a traditional meat dish served on a large piece of bread. Hearty and delicious! Combined with the spiced wine, we were really feeling Medieval! In addition to the live presentations and activities, Chillon does a good job of peppering the rooms with markers and descriptions (some of which are interactive). Not so much that you feel you are in a museum at all times, but enough to give you a feel for the significance of each room.
Tip: You can get your entrance tickets online in advance of your visit. This should save you some time at the entrance gate.
Visit Chillon Castle’s website.