Located by the small city of Montreux in the heart of Europe, the relatively small Chillon Castle was hundreds of years ago used as a defence construction for the ships passing by the biggest lake in Europe, Lake Geneva. Now, it is a place of Chinese tourists, historians, school trips and random solo-travelers such as me. Yet its mystery, long-established history and wonder still holds behind its stone walls.
From far away I was slightly disappointed to find the castle to be quite small. Yet when I finally stepped out of my boat and walked towards the castle and later on explored the inside, it was much bigger than I expected. Restored back in the 19th century, this castle has stood since the 12th century.
The first written mention of this castle appears in 1150. At that time it was built in the Chillon island, located in a busy trading route between the lake and the mountains. Many distinguished counts and Swiss rulers lived in this strong castle. Its structure held for so many years, with tall towers you could explore in addition to some courtyards, kitchen, banquet hall, chapel, and many other beautiful and historical locations inside the castle.
I really enjoyed how the museum made a route across the different levels and locations in the castle, with interesting plaques for people interested in random history facts (like me); and interactive entertainment for the young ones. They tried their best to preserve the original location, but additions such as glass doors here and there, and various lightings and recreation of furnitures still enhanced the historical feel of the entire site.
Overall Chillon Castle is a visit you should not miss if you are traveling around this area. I was staying in Lausanne and took a daytrip by boat (takes around 2 hours) to the site itself, then I took a bus (for around 15 minutes) to get to Montreux. Afterwards you can go back to Lausanne (or Geneva, wherever you are staying) by boat again, or by train. The castle itself doesn’t take too long to explore – a maximum of half a day is enough to complete the route. So I’d highly recommend visiting Montreux before or after your visit to the castle. Is it worth the slightly more expensive entrance ticket price? Since everything in Switzerland is expensive anyway, I think it is indeed worth it if you are really interested to visit the place.
If you are a huge fan of castles, or is just interested in a snippet of medieval history in Switzerland, definitely give Chillon Castle a go. It’s beautiful, interesting, and very informative for all ages. The castle opens every day in the summer from 9 am to 7 pm, and full adult rate costs €12.5. For more information, visit the official website here.