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Chillon Castle

October 03, 2014 << Back

Chillon Castle can be found a few miles outside Montreux at the eastern end of Lake Leman, Switzerland. 
The first fortress was built in the 9th century to guard the road from Avenches to Italy, which crossed the Great St Bernard, after skirting Lake Geneva.

Lord Byron immortalised the castle in 1816 with his poem “The prisoner of Chillon”

The cellars of Chillon have been used as a State prison more than once, but Francois Bonivard remains the most famous prisoner.

In 1530, when Prior of St Victor at Geneva, Bonivard tried to introduce the Reformation there.
His theses displeased the Duke of Savoy and he had Bonivard arrested and thrown into a part of the castle cellars which is lower than the lake. He lived chained to one of the cellar pillars for six years until he was freed by the Bernese in 1536. It is said his footprints can still be traced in the rock around the pillar.

Between 13th and 18th centuries Chillon’s is a tale of torture, superstition, religious hatred and political revenge. Countless thousands died horrible deaths in the cellars of Chillon.

And yet despite its ugly past, the castle itself is a work of art.

Maybe it is this paradox – the combination of art and terror – that draws tens of thousands of visitors to Chillon every year.