After you have found your Montreux hotel for your Montreux, Switzerland vacation, you should begin to plan what you will do while visiting this breathtaking part of the world.  There are many attractions in Montreux and the surrounding area.  You will not want to miss the great skiing or the Montreux festival during your stay; however, there is one castle that you must see during your stay – – the Chillon Castle.  With over 1,000 years of history to explore, you will not want to miss this magnificent castle nestled on the shores of Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps.

Excavations show that the site of the castle has been in use since the Bronze Age.  The location on the rocky island gave the castle natural protection as well as made it an important element in the control of passage from southern to northern Europe.  The castle has been influenced the most by three major periods in history.  From the 12th century through 1536, House of Savoy controlled the route along the shores of Lake Geneva.  The Bernese conquered the area in 1536 and occupied the castle until 1798 using it as a fortress, arsenal and prison.  In 1798, the Bernese left Chillon and it became the property of the Canton of Vaud.  Restoration began at the end of the 19th century.

Guests that visit the castle marvel at the underground rooms reminiscent of great Gothic cathedrals.  In the poem “The Prisoner of Chillon”, Lord Byron wrote of Bonivard’s imprisonment in these rooms.  There are three courtyards at the castle: the lower courtyard, which probably saw most of the castle’s business on a daily basis, Castellan’s courtyard, and then the Courtyard of Honor, which was reserved for the use of the counts.  There are four spectacular Great Halls in the castle where countless banquets were held by royalty and justice was metered out by the Bernese.  All of the windows in the Great Halls look out over Lake Geneva.

Chillon’s Chapel is where the counts and Dukes of Savoy had their private place of worship.  The rare paintings and murals on the walls and ceiling are from the 14th century and were left untouched by the Reformation.  An audiovisual system tells visitors about the history of the chapel.  While the chapel was a place of worship, the mountain side of the castle was dedicated to defense making the castle a fortress.  Watchtowers, a sentry walk, double ramparts a moat and turrets protected the castle from attack.

The castle holds many more secrets to discover on your visit.  Make sure to plan time to see this Montreux attraction.